Category Archives: Restaurant & multiple restaurants

Metate Room on List of Great Park Eateries

The Daily Meal likes SW Colorado restaurant.

DailyMeal-logoThe Daily Meal, a popular food site, loves “10 best lists.” The most recent is “America’s 10 Best Restaurants in Parks” — city parks, state parks and national parks. Listed as No. 4 is the Metate Room in Mesa Verde National Park. Though neglecting to mention the critical fact that the restaurant is open only seasonally (mid-April through late October), here’s write-up on the site:

Metate Room

Perched high in southwest Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park is Far View Lodge. From its 8,250-foot elevation, visitors can overlook four states while enjoying a contemporary menu at the Metate Room. Inspired by regional foods and flavors, the Metate Room does a stellar job of incorporating history into their menu. Specialty items to order: pork and chili stew, pueblo portobello stack or roasted vegetable salad.

Chinese Exotica in Boulder

Regional authenticity in North Boulder.

001Where a Subway once catered to staff from the now-shuttered Boulder Community Hospital’s Broadway building there is now a small and fairly new Chinese restaurant that appeals to those seeking more unusual dishes than the usual Cantonese/Szechuan/Hong Kong offerings.  Until I read about it recently (perhaps on another food blog), I hadn’t noticed Flower Pepper in that former Subway space. Its droopy, temporary-looking sign is under an awning and behind some trees is challenging to spot in passing.

Painfully tight space -- room enough for one table by the window. Images of Chinese markets and food hang on the wall.
Painfully tight space — room enough for one table by the window. Images of Chinese markets and food hang on the wall.

The offshoot of a  tea importing business, its menu is presumably limited by the kitchen that could be created in the wide and shallow space on the side of parking garage. Noodle and rice dishes predominate, though sadly not the soup dumpling I had somehow hoped for in this fast-casual spot. The tea, served in a thick white ceramic tumbler, was so hot that I couldn’t pick it up, even with two napkins, until I was finished with my food.

Excellent steamed wontons in delicate wrappers.
Excellent steamed wontons in delicate wrappers.

Continue reading Chinese Exotica in Boulder

Zocalito: Oaxaca in the Mountains

Bright & tasty Mexican regional fare in Aspen.

P1030770Turn from Aspen’s Hyman Avenue Mall into a small alley. Go down a flight of stairs into a corner of Mexico.  Atmospheric lighting recalls Mexico after dark rather than blinding sunshine. Sit back and contemplate the interesting and unusual menu. While waiting for the food to arrive, look around at the bright folk art.

Colorful folk art from Oaxaca occupies a prominant corner of Zocalito's front room.
Colorful folk art from Oaxaca occupies a prominant corner of Zocalito’s front room.

The food, which is flavorful and beautifully presented, echoes Oaxaca, the southern Mexico city known for culture and cuisine. It is the city where mole was born. What better Mexican food cred?

Chips and an unusual salsa makes a shareable starter. It is called pico de gallo on the menu, but is unlike any I've had before. Smoky chipotle sauce with the addition of corn kernels, chopped tomatoes and intriguing flavors topped with sou cream and guac.
Chips and an unusual salsa makes a shareable starter. It is called pico de gallo on the menu, but is unlike any I’ve had before. Smoky chipotle sauce with the addition of corn kernels, chopped tomatoes and intriguing flavors topped with sou cream and guac.
Steamed mussels in a spicy sauce of tomatoes, red onion and a Guatemalan-inspired achiote sauce
Steamed mussels in a spicy sauce of tomatoes, red onion and a Guatemalan-inspired achiote sauce.

Continue reading Zocalito: Oaxaca in the Mountains

A Pyramid Scheme for Good Food

P1030741There has been a restaurant on the second floor of Aspen’s Explore Booksellers as long as I can remember. The legendary bookstore has had several owners. The current owner(s), an LLC,  now operate(s) the Pyramid Bistro with a high ceiling, simple settings on bare-wood tables and a lovely, almost Zen-like ambiance that livens up with the tables are occupied.

 The best table in the place: a four-top niched into a windowed alcove.
The best table in the place: a four-top niched into a windowed alcove.

Chef Martin Oswald continues the tradition of wholesome, fresh food on a meat-free menu. He describes himself as a “nutritarian” and had devised a principled menu. Vegetables and grains? In abundance.  Poultry and seafood? Yes. Mammals? No.  Fresh and wholesome? Indeed.

Chewy rustic bread with basil-forward pesto.
Chewy rustic bread with basil-forward pesto.

Continue reading A Pyramid Scheme for Good Food

T&L Taps The Source for Top Food Hall List

Prestigious magazine cites RiNo landmark on world list.

TheSource-logoWhen Travel & Leisure published its list of The World’s Best New Food Halls, I was thrilled to read that The Source in Denver made the hallowed list of just 12 around the globe — that is, the whole world.  I’m a big admirer of renascent urban neighborhoods, and RiNo exemplifies urban creativity. T&L wrote:

The Source, Denver

The 15 vendors and restaurants at The Source, a repurposed 1880’s brick foundry building, range from sour beer specialists (Crooked Stave) to locally beloved coffee purveyors (Boxcar Coffee Roasters) and a taco truck-turned-modern taqueria (Comida). Don’t miss: wood-fired Colorado trout from Acorn, sister restaurant to Boulder’s renowned OAK at Fourteenth.
This recognition comes just as Zeppelin Development has announced that it is building an eponymous 100-room next door. If there was still a shred of doubt that RiNo is Denver’s most innovative and exciting areas, this should put all that to rest. The hotel, scheduled to open in early 2017, will feature an eighth-floor- rooftop deck with a beer garden and pool; a second 25,000-square- foot market hall with 20-foot ceilings; a ground-floor craft brewery;
a signature independent restaurant joining the great eats in the original; open market-style shopping areas with as many as 12 additional vendors; food and beverage counters, and more. The operators of Boulder’s Hotel St. Julien have been selected  to run The Source Hotel.

Beer Muscling in on Wine Turf

Flagstaff House beer dinner & Parisine beer event with chef competition.

Until recently, chefs tended to devise gourmet meals to pair with wines, and by and large, cooks in this country made far more casual dishes to go well with beer. The lines are blurring, the scene is shifting — and that shift is evident in two special beer-centric culinary evenings that are coming right up.

Flagstaff House Fare and New Belgium Brews

FlagstaffLogoWith its 15,000-bottle cellar and numerous Wine Spectator Grand Awards of Excellence and other honors, Boulder’s Flagstaff House boasts a phenomenal wine program.  Breaking away from its image, this legendary restaurant teams up with Fort Collins’ New Belgium Brewery to present top brews paired with the culinary creations of chefs Chris Royster and Mark Monette on Thursday, July 9.

The evening begins with an hors d’oeuvres reception on Flagstaff House’s gorgeous terrace (weather permitting), followed by a sit-down dinner in the spectacular dining room.  New Belgium’s Master Brewers and Flagstaff House chef Royster introduce the food and beer pairings. New Belgium pours rare, cellared and newly released beers, paired with exquisite Flagstaff House cuisine. The event is $95 per person, plus $31  for tips, taxes and online convenience fee.  Buy online. Here’s the mouth-watering menu:

  • Hors d’oeuvres  with Fat Tire & Slow Ride
  • Rabbit Rillette, Frisée Salad, Rosemary Onion Jam, Pear Chips with 
Pear Ginger Beer
  • Kauai White Prawns, Lemon Risotto, Sage Brown Butter Emulsion with 
Snap Shot & Transatlantique Kriek
  • Crisp Duck Confit, Duck Breast Roulade, Orange Braised Barley, Arugula, Dried Cherry Chutney, Black Pepper Gastrique with Rampant & La Folie
  • Banana-Bacon-Chocolate  with Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout

Pairsine for Beer

Pairsine-logoWine Country Network, whose Pairsine/Taste of Elegance chefs’ competitions have become Front Range faves with foodies, now also puts on a comparable beer event. It challenges 10 local chefs to prepare two dishes each to pair with 20 winning beers from the 2015 Denver International  Beer Competition. The beer Pairsine takes place on July 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the  Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield. General admission is $75, including tastings of all the beers and all the food, plus a neat complimentary beer glass. Buy online. Here’s the 2015 line-up of participating chefs and restaurants:

  • Eli Odell, Executive Chef, Highland Tap & Burger
  • David Davis, Executive Chef, The Sink
  • William Merwin, Executive Chef, The Blue Star
  • Dylan Zwart, Executive Chef, Low Down Brewery
  • Jean-Luc Vogele, Executive Chef, The Westin Hotel, Tabor Center
  • Joshua Hasho, Executive Chef, Omni Interlocken Resort & Spa
  • Jeffrey Samoska, Chef de Cuisine, Pub 17 on Welton/ Grand Hyatt
  • Tim Berry, Executive Chef Fate Brewing Company
  • Kirk Spare, Executive Chef, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
  • Michael Long, Executive Chef, Le Central French Restaurant

Fried Chicken, Anyone?

Just one Colorado eatery on new national list.

DailyMeal-logoI’m actually not a fan of fried chicken. I was put off by an early taste of KFC krap (when the chain was called by its full name, Kentucky Fried Chicken). Now when confronted with fried chicken elsewhere, I usually remove the often-greasy batter and skin to get to the meat, thereby missing the whole point of fried chicken. The Colorado fried chicken I’ve liked the best has been the skillet-fried version, served family-style at The Slogar in Crested Butte.

The Daily Meal selected “America’s 75 Best Fried Chicken Spots,” and the site found just one in Colorado that it found worthy. The fried chicken caboose at #75 is Jus Cookin’s in Lakewood. I’d never heard of it, but when look at its website, it turns out that it opened in 1988, the same year I moved to Colorado.

“Fried chicken in Colorado? Don’t let the unlikely location of this family-owned eatery fool you into thinking it doesn’t have the drumsticks to wow your palate. Jus Cookin’s has been serving some of the nation’s best fried chicken from its unassuming “little yellow farmhouse” since 1988. The restaurant’s humble yet hearty meals have drawn the likes of Katie Couric and former Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook in for dinner.”