Category Archives: Restaurant & multiple restaurants

SOL Tweaks Its Menu

Mexican food with style in Cherry Creek.

A few days after Denver’s spacious and attractive SOL Mexican Cocina celebrated its first birthday, the Baja-inspired restaurant rolled out new happy hour items and  resized lunch offerings (smaller  renditions of its generous dinner portions). I had the fortunate opportunity to join a couple of hours of sampling many dishes emanating from the glassed-in kitchen presided over by Cortland Collins, elevated from sous-chef to executive chef not long ago. And then, there were the restaurant’s award-winning margs.

Just about everything is made in house, save for the tortillas, which are made to SOL’s specifications by the esteemed La Tolteca Foods in Pueblo. At Cherry Creek rents, it would be foolish to have an in-house production set-up for the quantity they need.

Summery watermelon margarita, judges’ No. 1 choice cocktail at the recent Top Taco event.
Huge tortilla chips with two salsas — tomatillo-chipotle and black bear — made fresh every day.
Tortilla with a floating island of thin avocado slices.
Watermelon copita with cubes of sweet melon, salt, ground chile and lime wedges.
Mexx Chopp Salad (yes, that’s how SOL spells it) — this version with beef.

Continue reading SOL Tweaks Its Menu

A Corner of N’Awlins Now in Boulder

French Quarter Brasserie now open on Pearl Street Mall. 

After months of renovations to turn the former Paradise then Panera bakery space into a restaurant, the French Quarter Brasserie opened last Friday in Boulder. We went this evening, and considering that this is the third location (Washington, D.C., and Fairfax, Virginia being the first two), this restaurant just didn’t seem ready for prime time.

The décor is simple with barely adorned brick walls and low lights. The recorded jazz is LOUD. But then again, almost every eatery in Boulder these days is LOUD — some worse than others. The restaurant is just one door away from Broadway, so  traffic noise and busker noise (the one outside today was blowing a trumpet and tap dancing) compete with the music.

Ringside table for the passing parade on the Mall — this being one little moment when no one was walking by.

The awning says “French Quarter Brasserie and Oyster Bar.” I don’t know where they hid the oyster bar, but I sure didn’t see one. A few minutes after 6, there were a handful of happy hour lingerers on the patio,  only one party in the large restaurant area and no one at the bar. Still, service was pitifully slow. There was a hostess, a bartender and (I think) three waiters, but I wonder whether there was anyone in the kitchen. One supposed-to-be hot entrée and one salad took a very long time to come out. And even then, cold  rice was not  most promising  foundation for the classic red beans, andouille sausage (veggie version) and rice dish.

Also discouraging was that none of the staff who had very little to do bothered picking up the two cardboard coasters that had blown onto the patio floor. Did no one see them? (I was tempted to post a picture, but ultimately decided not to. Wrong decision.)

Fried foods dominate, so the still-gleaming kitchen has a six-basket Fryolator.

I don’t know what the East Coast locations are like, or whether this one will survive or thrive, but I’m disinclined to return — except perhaps for $1 oysters at happy hour. I wonder what happy hour wine pricing might be, because my very modest pour of rosé was $10 at dinner.

Red beans, andouille sausage and rice was supposed to come with corn bread but it didn’t. We didn’t notice — and neither did our waiter.
A salad of “blackened” mahi-mahi atop spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers served with an indiscernible amount of Parmesan, croutons and blood orange vinaigrette.
A shareable trio of beignets — chocolate, classic and honey — with an appropriately generous amount of powdered sugar.

Price check: At dinner, starters, $10-$25; entrées, $18-$35; entrée accoutrements (i.e., sides), $6-$12. No desserts are priced on the dinner menu. At lunch, they are $5-$8.

1207 Pearl Street, Boulder. No local phone number yet on the website. And nothing yet on Zomato.com.

Two Colorado Chefs to Cook in Colombia

Tom Coohill and Daniel Asher at gastronomic fest.

Tom Coohill, chef and co-owner of the Denver restaurant that bears his name, and Daniel Asher of Boulder’s River & Woods  recently made their second trip this year to Washington, D.C., to work with Plate of the Union, a food advocacy organization that is working to address hunger issues through the 2018 Farm Bill.

Soon they are heading to South America for the 10th annual El Sabor Barranquilla Gastronomic Festival in Barranquilla, Colombia, August 25-27. They will demonstrate cooking techniques and participate in culinary forums using his recipes and the Colombian region’s ingredients.

El Sabor Barranquilla is a three-day event focusing on the foods of the Caribbean, with cooking demonstrations and contests, forums exploring biodiversity, sustainability, culinary techniques and advances, and a variety of dishes cooked by chefs from around the world.

 “A crew came out from SaborUSA TV last year to film at the restaurant, and things went so well that they reached out for this event,” says Chef Tom, who will be accompanied by his wife and Coohills co-owner Diane Coohill. “They’re flying me and Daniel down there, and as we proved in D.C. recently, Daniel and I work well together. So, I think this is a great opportunity to have a really cool cultural exchange through food.” 

2018 Denver Dining Passbook on Pre-Sale Now

The 2017-18 Denver Dining Passbook, known for two-for-one entrée deals and other benefits, is on pre-sale now, making the savings even sweeter starting now and valid though August 15, 2018. Hurry, because the special is on only until August 31. Even though we live Boulder, I ordered one, because it only takes a couple of dinners out to break even — and then, it’s pure savings.

The Passbook features some 90 restaurants, including 30 new ones like Mizu Izakaya, Departure, Candela Latin Kitchen and the soon-to-open FNG Restaurant.  Buy now for $39 including shipping (way down from the regular cost of $99 plus shipping) for a year’s worth of dining deals. Click here an enter promo code PBPRESALE2017.

Participating Restaurants

10 Barrel Brewing Co., 1515 Restaurant, 801 Chop House, Adelitas Cocina Y Cantina, Adrift Tiki Bar, Aloy Thai, Atticus, The Avenue Grill, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Bar Dough, The Berkshire, Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Billy’s Inn, Blackbird Public House, Blue Island Oyster Bar, Blueprint Bar, Brider, Brodo Italian Scratch Kitchen, Broken Rice, bubu, BurgerFi, Butcher’s Bistro, Candela, The Cherry Tomato, CHUBurger, Corner Office, Crafty Fox, Denver Deep Dish, Departure, DiFranco’s, Dos Santos, El Jefe, Element Kitchen, Esters, FNG, Fish N Beer, Gaetano’s, Go Fish, Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole, Hashtag, Highland Tap & Burger, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Humboldt Farm Fish Wine, Ignite Kitchen + Cocktails, Ink! Coffee, Jack’s Uptown Grille, Jax Fish House Glendale, Jett Asian Kitchen & Sushi Bar, Kachina, La Sandia, Leña, Lime, Little India 6th Avenue, Little India LoDo, Lo Stella Ristorante, The Lobby, LoHi Steakbar, Lola Mexican Fish House, Los Chingones, Low Country Kitchen, Lucky Pie, Marco’s Coal Fired Pizzeria, Marg’s Taco Bistro, Max’s Wine Dive, Mizu Izakaya, Modern Market, North County, Olive & Finch, Onefold, Park Burger, The Pig & The Sprout, PokeCity, Prohibition, range, Recess Beer Garden, Revelry Kitchen, The Rosedale, Scratch Burrito, Shells & Sauce, Ship Tavern, STK, Sushi Hai, Sushi Ronin, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, TAG Burger Bar, Tamayo, Tap & Burger at Sloan’s Lake, There…, Tupelo Honey, Uno Mas Taqueria, Urban Farmer, White Pie, The Wooden Table

Two Denver Eateries on “Best New” List

Bon Appétit picks 50 in the country.

There seems to be no end to the “best of” and “top” lists. When a national publication or organization does the listing, I’m pleased when Colorado gets a nod.

The latest is Bon Appétit’s selection of the nation’s 50 best new restaurants. The magazine must have a thing for food halls, because it selected Annette in the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora (restaurants and so much more) and the entire Central Market in RiNo. Click here for my post on Annette, and here for my post about the then-anticipated opening of the Central Market in RiNo.

Buy Tix Now For Denver Burger Battle

Burgers, brews and more sing the song of summer.

The eighth annual Denver Burger Battle on Thursday, August 3   features  craft beer, boozy milkshakes, bite-sized desserts and 16 of the best burgers in Colorado. It takes place on the Tivoli Quad Park in Denver. VIP entry begins at 5:30 p.m. and general admission at 6:30. Prices are $69.99 and $124.99 respectively. This event tends to sell out. Click on the website link to purchase tickets.

2017 Competitors

Stoic & Genuine (‘2016 judges’ champ)

Cherry Cricket (2016 people’s champ)
TAG Burger Bar
Parkburger 
Highland Tap & Burger
Crave Real Burgers
Uber eats 
American Grind 
Stanley Beer Hall 
Pig & Sprout 
Concourse 
Prohibition
Departure 
Marczyk Fine Foods
My Brother’s Bar 
Bully Ranch 

Annette at Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace

Engaging, inventive restaurant in repurposed factory.

The Annette referenced by the name of Caroline Glover’s restaurant called  Annette Scratch-to-Table is her grandmother, The gastronomic pedigree includes New York’s Spotted Pig gastropub under star chef April Bloomfield and Denver’s Acorn, where she was sous-chef. Acorn is located in The Source, a repurposed foundry in RiNo. so it’s no stretch that she felt comfortable committing to Stanley Marketplace, a repurposed aviation equipment factory next to the old Stapleton Airport.

Glover calls her cuisine “scratch to  table” with an emphasis on small plates and shareable dishes. That was just right when we were taking my bother-in-law and sister-in-law to Denver International Airport and wanted something to do and someplace to eat en route. Stanley Marketplace fit the bill — an aviation theme, interesting shops, many places to eat and a short run to DIA.

We decided that Annette looked interesting for a late afternoon/early evening stop. The restaurant is attractive and welcoming, but we opted for a patio table. Salads and sandwiches both for adventurous eaters (beef tongue, octopus sandwich) and for those who aren’t (grilled cheese, potato soup — but each with a twist). The wine list is small, but as with the food, there’s something for all tastes.

Price check: At dinner, snacks, $3-$4; “plates,” $7 (fries) to $30 (whole roasted fish).

Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, Suite 108,  Aurora;
720-710-9975. Astonishingly, Zomato has not yet found Annette.