Justin Brunson, the chef behind Masterpiece Deli, also owns one of Denver’s most important restaurants (the acclaimed Old Major), and his culinary talents are equally showcased at this humble deli. One of the major feats of this Mile High shop is its versatility. The menu features a mouthwatering 12-hour-braised beef brisket smothered in a rich Taleggio fondue and served on a baguette. And damn it if Masterpiece’s bland-as-hell-sounding roasted vegetable sandwich isn’t one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever eat, too. The flavors of the fresh zucchini, wild mushrooms, and piquillo peppers mesh gloriously with the hummus, a zesty tomato tapenade, and aged provolone on a baguette. Though the Cubano — loaded with Black Forest ham and brined mojo pork and glued together with melted Swiss — might be enough to tempt even the president of PETA over to the dark side.
The original is in LoHi, where it was a pioneering good-food presence. There’s a second Masterpiece Deli in Uptown and a related eatery, Masterpiece Kitchen, in Lowry.
Food & Wine magazine selected its choices for the best farm-to-table restaurant in every state, where hey surveyed food writers and bloggers. Even though they didn’t contact me, I’m happy to note that Boulder-born The Kitchen was the Colorado choice. I concur, because The Kitchen really pioneered the concept in this neck of the culinary woods.
Here’s what Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore wrote (but the fact-checking or proofreading was flawed. It’s Kimbal Musk, not Kimbal Husk):
Colorado: The Kitchen
“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I’ve noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said . “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Husk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.
Louisville landmark going dark after nearly a century.
When I moved to Boulder in 1988, “someone” told me about two terrific Italian restaurants in Louisville: Colacci’s and the Blue Parrot. It took me a while to get to them, but compared to the southern Italian restaurants of the Northeast, they were not at all terrific. In fact, to my palate, they were remarkably mediocre. Low-taste recipes and throw-back ambience, better for nostalgia than for actually eating there. The Colacci family was behind both.
Colacci’s closed some years ago, and now The Blue Parrot is planning on closing at the end of the month. Their spaghetti sauce is or was bottled, but I was never motivated to look for it. Too bad it couldn’t hang on for a couple of years to celebrate its 100th birthday. I say “RIP,” but since I couldn’t bring myself to try it a second time, I might be partially responsible for its demise.
Should you wish to pay it a farewell visit, it is at 640 Main Street, Louisville; 303 666-0677.
Italian Christmas Eve feast coming to Jax in Old Town.
Several years ago, a friend and I conspired to prepare the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional southern Italian Christmas Eve feast. Eight or so of us had a great time. The food was good, but nothing compared to what a good restaurant kitchen can put out.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar in downtown Fort Collins is putting on special Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, featuring fresh seafood and other exquisite dishes prepared by Jax Chef Ricky Myers. This is the third year that Jax has put on the Festa dei Sette Pesci, but the first time I’ve been aware of it. In fact, Jax is reportedly the only restaurant in the area that is offering this unique meal on Christmas Eve.
Oysters on the half shell; grapa mignonette
Big Eye Tuna Crudo, pickled fennel and celery, orange segments,
Denver-born breakfast restaurant group gets New York investor.
A decade ago, when Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood was beginning to take off, brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel established Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. In fact, it was born April 2, 2006, and became an instand hit, sparking a movement toward creative, breakfast-oriented restaurants. It became known for its “atomic age’ mid-20th-century décor, energetic atmosphere and friendly service — and of course, it’s great breakfast items.
There are now 17 Snoozes in Arizona, Texas and California as well as Colorado. The capital and managerial infusion comes from York’s Stripes Group. The big name, food industry-wise, is David Swinghamer, former CEO of Shake Shack. He and two other Stripes Group partners are said to be joining Snooze’s board of directors. Will this corporatize Snooze? Will there still be lines spilling onto the sidewalk? Will it loose its Ballpark soul?
24 Carrot Bistro serves great cocktails & sublime food.
Until last night, I’d only eaten one dinner in Erie — years ago at my friend Kuvy Ax’s birthday dinner at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant. It was at Kuvy’s behest that I ate there again last night. This divine dinner was at 24 Carrot Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant with a stellar pedigree. The eatery’s name comes from a play on words — 24 karat relating to the finest gold and carrots referencing a key ingredient in fine classic cuisine.
Not only are partners Bianca Retzloff and Kevin Kidd both chefs, but Bianca is the daughter of Mark Retzloff, founder and owner of Alfalfa’s Market (now Markets, because there are three). Between them, Bianca and Kevin had worked at Alfalfa’s and in various Boulder County restaurants (SALT, Colterra, Jax and others) before crossing the line to Weld County and Erie. This town has exploded with housing developments, but it lacked any good restaurants until July 2015 when 24 Carrot Bistro opened in an 1880 building, originally a butcher shop and most recently a steakhouse. Now exposed brick walls and exposed joists create a warm, rustic and hospitable look.
A blackboard near the entrance lists the local vendors they buy from, but being from Scituate, Mass., executive chef Kevin Kidd has a soft spot for fresh seafood so he has it flown in six days a week.
Price check: At dinner, appetizers, $7-$12 plus $14 for an artisanal cheese plate; salads, $6-$8; small plates, $12-$17; entrées, $17-30 plus $12 for a Bistro Burger; desserts, $7-$8 plus just $2 for a daily selection of mini-bites and ice cream/sorbet tastes.
24 Carrot Bistro is at 578 Briggs Street, Erie; 303-828-1392.
Not surprisingly, Boulder’s stellar Frasca again makes the list. The restaurant continues to dazzle Bill Addison, the site’s restaurant critic. Click here for his 2014 review and ode to Frasca partner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.