Tag Archives: Denver Restaurant Week

So-So Meal at Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Denver Restaurant Week disappointment at steakhouse chain.

SullivansSteakhouse-logoWe 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.

Sullivan's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Denver Restaurant Week Starts Saturday

Extroverted Mayor Hancock sabers a champagne bottle to launch dining event

DenverRestaurantWeek2011.logoDenver Restaurant Week, which should probably be called Denver Winter Restaurant Week, begins tomorrow, Saturday, February 22, with some 313 metro area restaurants offering $30 prix fixe dinners through February 28. Instead of the previous two-week “week,” there’s now just one, with a second week scheduled for August.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock has again proven to be more hands-on than simply ceremonial official who issues proclamations when it comes to city-wide events. Hizzonor previously tapped a keg of beer made from Denver Urban Gardens-grown pumpkins and personally delivered 10 pizzas to a fifth grade classroom to honor young Yohanis Shay who won a Denver Public School system essay contest writing about Martin Luther King Jr.

His latest was to launch the Restaurant Week by sabered a champagne bottle. See the video at

Denver Restaurant Week 2014

In addition to splitting the dining promotion into two weeks across the calendar from each other, the per-head tab has gone up for the first time in 10 years, rising from $52.80 for two or $26.40 per person, but some restaurants — wanting to hold the price line — have thrown in an extra course or a glass of wine. Tax and gratuities, of course, are additional, but it’s still a helluva good deal. We have our reservations. Do you?

LoHi Steakbar for Restaurant Week

Unusual selections for Denver Restaurant Week at Highland steakery

P1010908The most common mix of courses for Denver Restaurant Week is a choice of three or four appetizers, three or four entrées and a like number of desserts for each person. LoHi Steakbar marches to its own DRW drummer offering a choice of 13 starters and two entrées per person, plus a choice of thee desserts for two people to share. I’m not sure what they do if there’s a solo diner or an odd number at the table. Six of us occupied a round table in the busy dining room, but it did seem as if the similarly sized bar area was equally busy. We all ordered from the DRW menu..

Marinated Salt & Pepper Shrimp, partically in their shells, rest atop a small field of greens.
Marinated Salt & Pepper Shrimp, partially in their shells, rest atop a small field of greens.
Black Bean Chili topped with sour cream, chopped scallions and little grilled cheese
Black Bean Chili topped with sour cream, chopped scallions and little grilled cheese “sandwich” on the.side.
House salad -- one of two on the DRW menu, the other being a Caesar.
House salad — one of two on the DRW menu, the other being a Caesar.
Five out of the six of us ordered  the SteakBar Steak Frites, a broiled flatiron steak served with frites that were supposed to be crisp but weren't, and a  choice of sauce: garlic-herb butter, béarnaise sauce, blue cheese butter or shallot steak sauce. The five chose different sauces and different degrees of doneness from blue to well-done. All but one arrived as ordered.
Five out of the six of us ordered the SteakBar Steak Frites, a broiled flatiron steak served with frites that were supposed to be crisp but weren’t, and a choice of sauce: garlic-herb butter, béarnaise sauce, blue cheese butter or shallot steak sauce. The five chose different sauces and different degrees of doneness from blue to well-done. All but one arrived as ordered.
Salmon filet served with sauteed green vegetables and squash puree.
Salmon filet served with sauteed green vegetables and squash puree.

LoHi SteakBar on Urbanspoon

Reserve Now for Denver Restaurant Week

Top restuaurants are booking up now for two-week culinary “week”

DenverResturantWeekI know they can be a hardship for many restaurants, but “restaurant weeks” like November’s annual First Bite Boulder, upcoming Denver Restaurant Week and numerous others in cities, states, toruist areas and even neighborhoods are fantastic for diners. For a modest fixed price per person, participating restaurants serve a limited menu that enables diners sample their cuisine. Three courses are typical. Some restaurants offer four or add a no-charge amuse before the meal and/or an intermezzo between courses. Some also offer wine specials or even include wine or other beverage in the price.

The majority of the specific menus are up for Denver Restaurant Week, which runs February 23 through March 8. I have long believed that it should be called Denver Restaurant “Weeks” since it does run 14 days. More than 200 restaurants are participating. Each offers a multi-course dinner (usually three courses) for the “mile high” fixed price of $52.80 for two or $26.40 for one, plus tax, tip and beverages. Some offer other optional popular dishes for an upcharge. The fun of this two-week food fest is checking out all the menus and then nabbing a spot at that restaurant you have always wanted to try, but couldn’t afford or hadn’t gotten too yet. Many of the city’s hottest spots are on the list but word on the food street is that many booked up as soon as reservations opened (about three days ago), but many many neighborhood bistros are on the list too. I suppose I should note than many chains have also hooked onto this concept, though it was designed for independently owned restaurants.

We’ve already made out Denver Restaurant Week reservations, but I’m not saying where. I’ll write a blog post after we’ve been there. Please do note that “Denver” in this case stretches from Longmont to Littleton. And an aidditional tip: Make your reservations through OpenTable.com and collect 100 points every time you dine. Points can be converted into gift certificates good at any OpenTable restaurant.

Aria Hits High Culinary Notes

Two young chefs’ restaurant week menu in Cherry Creek North

I have wanted to eat at Aria ever since it opened, because I admire the imaginative contemporary cuisine and beautiful plating that Michael Long, the executive chef at opening, is known for. I waited too long for Long, if you’ll excuse the word game.

Despite the creativity and energy coming from the kitchen, the restaurant, which has had problems gaining traction (Josephine Street is hardly Cherry Creek North’s liveliest), underwent changes last fall. The cheffing duties now fall to Travis Masar and Jenica Flippo, both Johnson & Wales alums and well- traveled oenophiles (German wines in particular). If this week’s Denver Restaurant Week offerings are any indication, they are following the path that Long established for Aria in terms of creative combinations and beautiful plating.

Water cascades over standing stones into rock-filled pool at the entrance to area.

The restaurant’s foyer features a cascading fountain in rock pool, creating a Zen quality. Past the hostess stand is an attractive semi-private dining room, a lounge with a bar and a few tables, and a big dining room with spacious granite-top tables. Diners feel as if they have a lot of elbow room. The service is considerate without being intrusive or overbearing — as it should be.

Continue reading Aria Hits High Culinary Notes

Trendy TAG’s Terrific Restaurant Week Menu

Larimer Square restaurant’s innovative combos & sparkling tastes 

Denver Restaurant Week 2011 ended this evening after a two-week run. Chefs, waitstaff and everyone else at the participating restaurants is presumbly in recuperation mode, but I’m still coasting on the pleasure of dining at the last two restaurants I visited. On Wednesday, my friend and MileHighOnTheCheap.com partner Laura and I rendezvoused at TAG, the Larimer Square eatery that has coined the phrase, “continental social food.” With inspiration from cuisines of the Americas, Asia and Europe, the name is not restricted to one particular continent but implies a high degree of sophistication and cultural cross-fertizilation.

The name reflects owner/chef Troy Atherton Guard’s initials, but there’s a double meaning too becausetag is a game, and there’s also a playfulness both to the decor and the sprightly menu that contrasts colors, textures and flavors in every dish. Decor-wise, there’s a bulldog portrait hung on a brick wall, a toy bulldog over the front entrance, a bulldog with a crown on the menu and perhaps other bulldogs that I didn’t spot. It is hommage to Guard’s bulldog who is named (drum roll),  Tag.

Tables in the main part of the restauant wrap around a tall, slim double-glass-sided wine cellar. At Aureole in Las Vegas, “wine angels” ride up and down in bossun’s chairs to retrieve wine from an even taller cellar. At TAG, they do it the old-fashioned way, using a ladder. There’s an open kitchen, minimalist black  tables and interesting pendant lamps hanging from the very high ceiling.  

Denver Restauarant Week Menu

I had never dined at TAG before, so I can’t relate the special three-course DRW menu to the regular one, but the that might be irregular too because it’s not available on the website. which implies that it often changes. The restaurant week menu reflected a wide range of inspirations as well as Kreativity and Kourage, because one of the first-course options was Kangaroo — not your usual Rocky Mountain fare.

The first course was called Inclination. In addition to our two choices, Petaluma chicken confit empanadas with bruléed avocado, smoked goat cheese and Tag mole was available. I was tempted to try that if only to tast bruléed avocado. We did have:

Deconstructed salad of Hawaiian ahi, Jerusalem artichokes, Persian lime and smoked aioli -- many influences in one dish.

 

Slices of tender kangaroo loin, cooked rare, on a base of kabocha squash and lemongrass gnocchi with Chinese black bean jus -- another cross-cultural combination.

The second course, called Temptation on the menu, featured two meats and a fish offering. The one we did not order was the center cut Yorkshire pork loin with scallion potato mash, long beans and chile pasilla sauce. We did order:

Colorado bison shortribs with sweet potato puree, Brussels sprouts, TAG pancetta and king pao butter.
Columbia River steelhead (a species that in Colorado is called rainbow trout) with quinoa, soy beans (out of the shell - hooray!), sunflower seeds and a sea of pureed pequillo peppers-plus.

Dessert was called Seduction on the menu. I would have called it Satisfaction, because satistified describes our feeling after we had cleaned our plates. White chocolate bread pudding with beet raspberry gel, ancho chile-chocolate crumble and crushed hazelnuts was the dessert that neither of us ordered. It appealed to me on many culinary creative levels, but I had several bread puddings in Alaska just last week, so I went for the semi-freddo instead.  

A devilishly rich disk of nutella semi-freddo atop a black pepper cookie-like crust of the same size and a scoop of raspberry lemongrass sorbet were excellent but would have looked lost on the plate, were it not for the chocolate swoosh and the sprinking of nutella powder.
East meets West in this picture-pretty assemblage of citrus almond spongecake cubes with jiggly pear gele, micro shiso and miso caramel.

TAG on Urbanspoon