Connecticut institution cited as great lobster shack.
When I moved to Colorado in 1988, I was cheered to find prepared clam chowder from Abbott’s of Noank at my local King Soopers. A true taste of New England was much appreciated by this Connecticut native. I used to buy it all the time, until it disappeared from the refrigerated case. I guess there weren’t enough nostalgic New Englanders in Boulder (or all of Colorado) at the time.
Now Abbott’s gets top billing in The Daily Meal’s list of “America’s 40 Best Seafood Shacks.” Well okay. It is first because the list is alphabetical, but I’d put it right up there with Maine’s finest anyway.
Here’s what The Daily Meal posted: “According to the digital countdown clock on the Abbott’s website, at the moment this is being written there are 18 weeks, six days, seven hours, 19 minutes, and 36 seconds, oops, 37, oops…well, you get the idea, left until Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough serves their last lobster of the 2015 season. This reminder is convenient, because you do not want to miss out on this. Abbott’s has been in business for more than a half century, and they put a spin on lobster rolls by low steaming them and serving them hot with melted-on butter — not that it makes them shirk on buttering the roll. Local oysters are on offer, too.”
Tuscan-style restaurant a good option for lone diners in Aspen.
I’m in Aspen for just a couple of days, my prime purpose being to write about the recently opened Aspen Art Museum. A side benefit is always eating. When I arrived I was tired and hungry, so I was looking for a quick bite of something tasty and not too pricey. A local friend suggested L’Hostaria Ristorante— coincidentally across from the museum where I will be tomorrow.
The décor is Tuscan. The menu features a range of starters, meats, seafood, pasta, sides and desserts. There was something vaguely familiar about the look of the place (a bar area separated from the dining area) and even the way the menu is written. When I returned to write and looked up the restaurant, it turns out that the owner(s) opened Bacaró in Boulder. Bacaró is closed, but if a Monday evening in low season in a ski town is an indication, L’Hostaria is still doing strong.
The bar area seating includes the bar itself, a salume bar and tables — a set-up that provides options for lone diners. Because my companion was author Mark Adams in the form of his book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu, I picked a table with the best lighting. A glass of chianti, a savory and a sweet sufficed. The ambiance was very pleasant, though I’m guessing later in the evening, there was more noise from other patrons, which would have made dining solo less pleasant. Like Bacaró, the food was good — but not great. Still, it was a good choice for me.
Price check: I can’t give you the usual range, because I didn’t take notes or take a menu, but my food and wine at the bar came to about $30. And the pleasant atmosphere and congenial service? Priceless.
New England favorite works as a pre-theater treat.
When I got wind of The Oceanaire’s current (till the end of the month) special on lobster and crab rolls, my mouth started watering. We had theater tickets the other night, and The Oceanaire is across the street from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. As a (happily) displaced New Englander, I love and miss lobster rolls, so this was a no-brainer about where to grab a bite before the show.
We were early because we had a 6:30 curtain, so I was happily able to order the at-the-bar special at a table — white cloth and all. (Thanks, general manager John.) Of course, once I get into a seafood restaurant, I always have to try one more thing besides what I came for, and for my husband, whose taste for seafood is limited, the availability of a steak was appealing. The Oceanaire’s coolly elegant décor, inspired by old ocean liners, and the mellow retro music made for a pleasant wait until the wine and then the food came.
Food, music & art form from North Atlantic nation in the Mile High City.
I’ve just returned from Iceland, so I’m still a little obsessed by that wonderful little island nation. I soaked in the fabled Blue Lagoon, but I never got a chance to eat at the Blue Lagoon’s LAVA Restaurant. My loss, because it is considered one of Iceland’s best. My re-entry will be eased if I make it to try the special menu of authentic Icelandic cuisine served at Rioja from September 24 to 27.
Viktor Örn Andrésson, the fabled restaurant’s head chef (and 2014 Nordic Chef of the Year), is flying in to prepare this special meal showcasing the best of Icelandic cuisine. He will work with Rioja’s owner/chef Jennifer Jasinski, whose accolades include James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest and Colorado Chef of the Year, and Rioja’s Chef de Cuisine Tim Kuklinski to offer the menu below ($65 plus $25 for optional wine pairing). Rioja is at 1431 Larimer Street, Denver. For reservations, call 303-820-2282. And if you don’t happen to be in Denver, Taste of Iceland events are also scheduled for Seattle, October 9 t0 12, and Toronto, November 13 to 16.
Taste of Iceland Menu at Rioja
F I R S T • Arctic Char
Blow-torched and lemon-cured Arctic char
Beetroots, cream cheese, horseradish, chervil
S E C O N D • Icelandic Cod and Langoustine
Slowly cooked cod and dried seaweed ‘söl‘ from Stykkishólmur
Lightly smoked langoustine salad, apple, black salsify, pickled onion
T H I R D • Icelandic Free-Range Lamb
Roasted rack of lamb and slowly cooked lamb shoulder, sun chokes, watercress, mustard, mushrooms and Madeira sauce
F O U R T H • Icelandic Viking Skyr
Skyr and red currant mousse, chocolate cremaux,
Marzipan cake, marshmallow, skyr and lemon ice cream
Music, Cocktails & Yard Storming
Denver’s Icelandic experience includes several other events. Music lovers can attend the free Reykjavik Calling Concert on Saturday, September 27 at 7 p.m.at the 3 Kings Tavern. Mixologist Chris Sage conducts craft cocktail classes at Rioja’s sister restaurant, Bistro Vendome, featuring a variety of cocktails using Reyka Vodka and Icelandic ingredients. Classes from September 25 through 27 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. are free but are limited to 20 guests (21+ only) per class. Reservations are required (and might already be filled), but call 303-825-3232 and try.
Iceland is a nation of sheep (the four-legged kind) and therefore, also of knitters. Artist and knitter extraordinaire Linda Björk Eiríksdóttir (also known as BarbaKnit) invites experienced knitters and novice knitters alike to a free yarn storming party on Saturday, September 27 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at the lawn just east of the McNichols Building at Civic Center Park (144 West Colfax). Guests will create an all-new art installation by “yarn storming” park trees with a splash of color and texture. Guests are encouraged to bring their own knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn or any other fabric lying around. Linda is available to teach guests easy ways to get started in the wide world of knit art.
After hoofing our way through Reykjavik on our arrival day in Iceland, my husband and I passed on the elegant white tablecloth restaurants downtown, and even I wasn’t feeling the spirit of culinary adventure. I just didn’t want to eat minke whale or puffin for dinner that evening, and maybe never. We ended up at an informal, pub-like restaurant downtown. I can’t begin to spell or pronounce the name. A beer for him, some wine for me and food — because we were famished, immediately ordered.
I picked cod with mango sauce (probably from a jar) because it came with vegetables, which I was craving. While my fish was fresh and superb, the mango didn’t really enhance it, so I kept looking at my husband’s fish and chips, and coveted that dish.
The next day, after poking around the New Harbor, we and a couple of friends crossed the street to the new Reykjavik Fish Restaurant, whose façade includes the words “Fish & Chips” in big, bold letters. This fast-casual restaurant dips fresh cod into into a fine, delicate batter, fries it crisp and serves it hot from the fryer with a choice of dipping sauces, none of which was tartar sauce from a jar. We all ordered it, and even though the potatoes were nothing special, we were all happy.
Even before we forked into the delicious cod, we enjoyed the sprightly décor and friendly service.
The East Coast summer tradition of a clambake gets transplanted to East Colfax Avenue, where Marczyk Fine Foods assembles the requisite components. Saturday, August 2 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. is clambake time. Each order contains a 1-pound lobster, steamers (clams), local corn and potatoes, and also melted butter, plus a lobster bib, because things get messy at a clambake done right. Marczyk’s should perhaps replace the pig parts on their logo with a lobster.
While the event now in its third year takes place at the 5100 East Colfax Avenue market, clambakes can be ordered at both markets fully cooked to eat there or raw to take home — until they sell out. The price is $27.99 per person. Order in person by stop by either market to pre-purchase, or order by phone on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The numbers are 303- 894-9499 or 303- 243-3355.
Chef Jennifer Jasinski now doing seafood at Stoic & Genuine.
Among the many things that have come with Union Station’s exciting renovation/resurrection is the emergence of a new dining destination in this century-old landmark. Several of the greater Denver area’s top chefs and restaurateurs have signed on to open branches there. Some are up and running, while others are coming online soon.
The first to open was Stoic & Genuine, a new seafood restaurant operated by chef Jennifer Jasinski and front-of-house whiz Beth Gruitch. The partners already run a trio of terrific neighboring restaurants. Rioja does Spanish and other Mediterranean food, Bistro Vendome is French and Euclid Hall is meat-centric. Stoic & Genuine gets the partners a few blocks from those Larimer Square restaurants — especially now, because they both spend a lot of time during the launch of a new one.
The bright, high-ceilinged restaurant has simply set tables with an octopus mural sinuously wrapping its tentacles on the walls and interesting lights above. The menu is tight and the seafood is fresher than you might expect in the middle of the country. “No Ocean. No Worries. Fresh Seafood Flown in Daily” is what the menu promises. The best of the catch is on display on ice at one end of the booze bar. There are items meant to be served raw and others that are cooked but are served chilled. They are listed on a sushi-style menu.
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.