Denver Restaurant Week disappointment at steakhouse chain.
We trek to Denver every year to share a Denver Restaurant Week experience with friends — and we’ve had some really good meals at very reasonable prices. Restaurant Kevin Taylor a few years back remains a stand-out memory, and TAG was very good as well. By contrast, the Denver location of Sullivan’s Steakhouse, which is part of the high-end DelFrisco’s Restaurant Group, was a triumph of form over substance. One of our friends, who thinks my husband suffers from meat deprivation, selected it. A thoughtful but misguided choice.
Located in LoDo near Coors Field, Denver’s Sullivan’s exhibits the classic Chicago steakhouse look — dark wood, moderated light, white tablecloths, waiters in white shirts and ties, etc. There are four included courses on the $30 DRW menu rather than the usual three, but that’s because steakhouses consider side dishes to be a separate course. Oh, and if you wanted one of their “signature butters and sauces,” which they list as a separate course, that would have been $2 additional. Such steakhouse practices always feel like a rip-off. Furthermore, plunking a lonely piece of meat on a white plate, maybe with a sprinkle of chopped parsley or a ramekin of steak sauce, isn’t visually appealing either. In fact, the entire meal at Sullivan’s was so predictable and minimally presented that I won’t waste pixels showing any images.
The food itself was mostly forgettable. The round bread loaf was soft-crusted and bland. A wedge of iceberg lettuce is a wedge of iceberg lettuce, no matter what is plunked on top. The mushroom soup was pronounced to be OK. I don’t really blame the restaurant for plating the Romaine lettuce for the Caesar salad ahead of time during restaurant week, but it had that sad, flat-on-the-plate texture of having spent a long time in the walk-in.
The filet mignon was pronounced good (I didn’t try it). The 14-ounce strip steak was tough and gristly in spots. Roasted (read: overcooked) balsamic chicken with wild mushroom couscous comprised two breast/wing halves that looked glazed but when it came to the flavors had no discernable balsamic taste. The couscous assemblage was salty and featured also-overcooked mushrooms and one lonely cippollini onion. Among us we ordered three desserts. My chocolate mousse looked like light mocha mousse and was flecked with chocolate grains — perhaps intentional. My husband’s Key lime pie wasn’t bad, except for the soggy crust. I didn’t taste the banana bread pudding across the table.
DRW pricing has risen to $30 per person. Add one glass of wine (mine), tax and tip, my husband and I dropped nearly $100 on this mediocre meal. I don’t care for most steakhouses and on my own, I avoid chains. Nothing in this experience caused me to modify my opinions — even allowing for the DRW crush. Be forewarned.