Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I have a crush on "The Crushery"

Seriously, I think about visiting this little gem about three times a week. The Crushery is located on S. Pearl near the Pajama Baking company. This deli/panini/salad shop has sooo much to offer. The owner has created an unbelievable menu, filled with several NYC boiled bagel options, over 75 toppings, panini's, and fresh salads.

Some of my favorites include the Bacon, Lettuce, and Cream Cheese bagel, the Chorizo, Egg, Queso Fresco, and Green Chili bagel, or try out the Buffalo Chicken, Gorgonzola, Red Onion, and Arugula panini. With all of these amazing options, it is easy to overlook the salads, however, try not to. They have a slew of delicious salads with creative and fresh toppings, like the Steak, Gorgonzola, Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Tomato & Gorgonzola Croutons, with Blue Cheese Dressing salad. Yum!

The ambience is pretty average. However, in the summer and warm fall/spring days, the front of the restaurant opens up with a large garage door-esque window. The restaurant also features a delightful back patio, that is often empty.

Prices are completely affordable, especially for the bagel sandwiches. I highly recommend this fabulous little restaurant and suggest making several repeat visits in order to try all 75 toppings!

Note to reader - they are NOT open on Monday. Don't make the mistake of getting your heart set on a delicious bagel filled with goodies and crushed to perfection, only to get there to see the "closed" sign. It will make you sad. I gaurantee it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

If you don't Snooze, you lose

Since opening in 2006 on Park Ave. & Larimer in Denver, Snooze has become THE a.m. eatery for denverites. Serving up a slew of delicious and unique pancake offerings, cheesy hashbrowns, various versions of eggs benedict, and breakfast "spirits", this delightfully retro diner, continues to deliver. Their new location, on the corner of Colorado and 7th Ave. has a permanent line around the building. However, that shouldn’t deter breakfast and brunch lovers from stopping in. The wait is well worth it.
Inside, guests are seated in comfy booths and promptly served breakfast delicacies by smiling staff while owner Jon Schlegel charmingly greets patrons. Schlegel, a University of Denver graduate, has served in the restaurant business since graduating in ’97. After years of service, he made the decision to embrace his inner entrepreneur and opened the doors to the first Snooze eatery. Since opening, the restaurants success has been exponential. As a testament to their success, Snooze has been named “Best Breakfast/Brunch” by 5280 magazine three years running. Riding high on their success, owners are planning to open a third location in spring 2010 in Fort Collins. The new location is sure to be a hit with Colorado State University students.
While Snooze’s success might be attributed to their tasty menu and friendly staff, it’s hard to overlook their continued community involvement. Most recently, they announced that they will be hosting a fundraiser, “Pancakes on Parade” on Tuesday, December 1st from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to benefit the Denver Parade of Lights. Festive pancakes such as the “Snow Ball”, a coconut pancake with vanilla cream and coconut will be served in addition to several other holiday themed offerings. For more information on the restaurant or “Pancakes on Parade”, please visit

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Wish it Were My Kitchen

On Thursday I made a trip to Boulder to connect with some fabulous friends. We had originally planned to visit Salt, the new restaurant in the old Tom's Tavern location on Pearl St. Fortunately, they were booked and we were forced to go to The Kitchen. Thank you Salt! (I still want to visit Salt sometime too, though)

We dined in the Upstairs Kitchen location. There are essentially two restaurants, an upstairs and a downstairs. The Upstairs serves small plates, shared dinners, and offers a great happy hour. The downstairs is more for full course, formal meals.

I arrived early to the restaurant and was able to enjoy the happy hour offerings, which included a "Beer du Jour" for $2.50, red and white wine for $5, and cocktails for $5. I ordered a beer and a wine before the clock struck 6:30 to conclude the happy hour. I also ordered the hummus, which was delicious! Drizzled with olive oil, a sprinkle of red pepper, and served with warm, buttered ciabatta, it was a lovely start to a fantastic evening.

However, it wasn't just the great deals and food that won my affections, it was the FANTASTIC atmosphere. A darker setting, with a bar at the front, large windows looking out onto Pearl St., and cozy booths throughout the rest of the space, it was like walking into a sheek, yet comfortable living room. The waitstaff was absolutely charming and brimming with the essence of Boulder, which as a native of Boulder, I absolutely love. They were kind and soft spoken, focused on making sure their guests needs were appeased.

Then, there was the music...fabulous. I really could have stayed at this restaurant all night. I didn't want to leave. While I sat in my cozy booth, munching on my locally bred lamb burger, delicious tomato soup, and listened to Postal Service play, I wondered why it had taken me so long to visit one of the best restaurants in Boulder.

I highly recommend this restaurant. I promise you, that if you live in the Denver area, you won't regret making the trip up to Boulder to dine in this delightful establishment.

Additionally, if you have time this weekend, I recommend making a trip to the restaurant for their First Bite Boulder event, where you can get a three course meal for $26, $39, with wine. Delicious!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Carmine's Delivers...ish

For the past two years, I have passed by Carmine's on Penn, longingly staring in the windows, watching groups of people enjoying one another and gleefully filling their bellies with hearty italian tastes. I have never had an excuse to go there, until recently.

Every year a group of friends comes together to celebrate what was dubbed three years ago as "Meatfest." It began as a dinner at Rodizio's, the brazilian steakhouse, where diners devour so much meat that a flushing of the arteries should be included in the cost. After two years of this carnivorous tradition, it was obvious, we needed to find somewhere else to celebrate "Meatfest."

Voila! In comes Carmine's on Penn, a family style eatery, non-chain, Denver restaurant, popular among locals and foodies, alike. While meat isn't the main offering on the menu, there are definitely dishes with meat, and pasta, and garlic. Yum...

So, I planned a menu of salad, a few chicken dishes, baked ziti, sausage & peppers, and of course, the complimentary garlic knots. I fasted all day in preparation of stuffing myself with the food I had been wanting to try for two years.

Everyone arrived to the restaurant safely, despite the heavy snow that began to fall. As a group that LOVES to eat, there really isn't anything that can keep us away from good food. We were all seated and the stuffing commenced.

Everything was tasty, the garlic knots were dripping with butter and garlic. The caesar salad was amazing, along with the house salad. The meal was started off well. The entrees were served:

Chicken Montana: Chicken + Gorgonzola Cream Sauce = 9 (on a scale from 1 - 10)
Fontina alla Pesto: Chicken + Basil Pesto + Fontina Cheese = 9.5
Chicken Parmigiana: Pretty straightforward = 8
Bolognese: Again, obvious dish, pretty tasty = 8
Baked Ziti: Delicious = 8
Sausage & Peppers: I did not get to try this, but it looked delicious

All in all, I think everyone enjoyed the food and their evening. However, I left feeling like something was missing. As if something was ordered, but never delivered, yet, I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

A couple of days later (aka, today) I realized that it was the service that was never delivered. While it was satisfactory, it wasn't great. There was no "experience" created for the guests. I'm a bit disappointed. The food was good, the restaurant is nice, but I didn't go away feeling like, "I have to go back there, tomorrow."
I hope that this isn't a regular occurrence for the restaurant. I'm sure they have some really great service people, and maybe it was just an off night. Either way, it was lacking.

So, advice to those who visit Carmine's, scope out the friendliest looking waitperson or, don't go on an "off night."

I'm sure at some point, I will return to Carmine's and when I do, I will cross my fingers, and hope that the service I receive will be just as good as the garlic knots.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Palmer Lake's Secret Treasure

Alright, so I am aware that Palmer Lake isn't in Denver...but I just HAD to do a post on this charming establishment. Amuze Bistro is set against the hills of Palmer Lake in what used to be a station agent's house for the Rio Grande. It is the oldest building in Palmer Lake and a unique and inviting setting for a fabulous little bistro.

On a normal night, the restaurant's dining room has a total of four tables: two four-tops and two two-tops. However, my visit to Amuze was a special occasion, in which they put all four tables together for a large group to experience the "Chef's Tasting."

Owner, William Sherman began the evening by reviewing the seven course tasting menu with the group. Sherman was charming and extraordinarily knowledgeable. To illustrate - when discussing the dessert, a New Mexico Red Chili Creme Brulee, he explained the role of olfactory senses and the ability the red chili has to activate those senses, giving the diner an opportunity to experience every flavor to it's fullest.

After listening to Sherman discuss the menu, my olfactory was dying to dive in! The meal began with an "Amuse-Bouche", which is a french phrase meaning "to entertain the palate." My palate was delighted with the Watermelon Cube with Soy Syrup & Black Lava Salt. After my entertained mouth completed it's dance, the seven course parade commenced. Throughout the evening there were constant murmerings of oohs and ahs, compliments bestowed upon the chef with full mouths and even fuller bellies. We were served Cream of Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Blue Crab Toast, Diver Scallop & Cheese Ravioli, a Colorado Lamb Chop & Israeli Couscous in addition to a Prime Filet Mignon with White Truffle Mashed Potatoes, that made my mouth sing AND dance. To top it all off, the Red Chili Creme Brulee. U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E!

I have never experienced a dinner so thoughtfully prepared and delicious. I more than recommend this restaurant. I request that you make the trip to Palmer Lake to experience this gem. In fact, you don't have any excuse, as the restaurant's one year anniversary is quickly approaching and to celebrate, Amuze is hosting a party on September 26th. The party will be held at the art gallery next door. There will be wine, food, and a contest. The contest will not be a contest for best tasting dish, but rather a competition in "food architecture" as Sherman puts it. Anyone can enter for a nominal fee.

Whether you go to visit the restaurant for dinner or attend the anniversary party, I guarantee that you will be nothing but amuzed...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Splendid Pizza Pie

Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana located on 15th and Platte is an established treasure. While not a new restaurant, I always find myself pleasantly surprised by their offerings. When I went there for lunch today, I did not plan to post about my experience However, after a delicious meal I wanted to share my pleasing experience with all of my faithful followers (one anonymous follower, to be exact).

Upon arriving at the airy, streetside establishment along the banks of the South Platte River, I was reminded of how much I enjoy this area. Today was a unique lunch, as I was dining with seven other coworkers. While I was concerned about Proto's ability to accommodate us, they were unphased and had our table ready immediately. Our friendly waiter was a beefy fellow who aimed to please. He was quick to take our order and tended to all of our needs, which were plenty, seeing as how we were a group of eight women.

After throroughly studying the menu (online, before arriving and once we arrived as a refresher) we decided upon sharing several delectable pies. My favorite was The Lowrider, topped with bacon, pineapple, honey tomato chipotle sauce, cilantro, and cheese. The traditional italian thin crust, made for a wonderful canvas to cover with some of the best ingredients in the world...bacon, cilantro, and chipotle. In addition to this masterpiece, we gorged ourselves on The Proto - sausage, basil, mozzarella, tomato sauce; The Pontiff - spinach, feta, sundried tomato, olive oil and a special pizza that is not on the menu, LASAGNA. What?!?! Yes, that's right...lasagna pizza. Hell yes! It was soooo good. Topped with mini meatballs, mozzarella, ricotta, and tomato sauce, I couldn't get enough. I highly recommend that everyone get their booty into Proto's to try this slice of heaven before it's discontinued.

After completely stuffing myself like the indulgent carnivore that I am, I was unable to treat myself to their tempting Gelato for fear that I wouldn't fit into my pants if I did. I guess I will just have to pay Proto's another visit, and this time I will wear sweatpants. Two words...elastic - waistband!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Encore's Paramount Performance

This beautifully renovated old theater sets a perfect stage for a delicious meal. Previously, the Lowenstein Theater, Encore has settled into the space quite nicely. This hip restaurant has a historic flair, with the old Lowenstein Theater sign displayed along the dining room wall and original stage doors set up at the entrance to the restaurant's private dining room. As guests arrive, they enter into the old box office, where the hostess stand and entrance to the Tattered Cover are now set.

While the space is historic, there is a large focus on a more recent concept, green operations. The restaurant is decorated in various green hues, recycled materials and prides itself in the use of products that are local, organic and environmentally friendly. These values make for a beautiful setting and spectacular food (the most important part).

The menu is compiled of several dishes including appetizers, salads, pizzas and a variety of entrees, all of which sound amazing. With some help from our spirited and very informative waiter, Brad, we decided to start out with a seasonal specialty, the "Peach-za". A delicious flat bread pizza, topped with Colorado peaches, gorgonzola, chicken, and red onion. Another local dish was the soup of the day, a corn chowder with a dill and pesto topping, made with locally grown corn. Mmmmm...good. I was already filling up and that was just the start! For the entrees, we ordered the thai beef noodle salad that featured mango, cabbage, thai noodles and beef. With a bit of a bite, cooled off by the sweetness of the mango, this salad was a delight. The wood-fired Argentinean style steak, basil chimichurri and tomato confit, accompanied by deliciously smooth mashed potatoes was also to die for.

While the entire table was stuffed to the brim, we couldn't resist trying one of Encore's tasty desserts. In another nod to Colorado peaches, we ordered the also seasonal, Ginger Peach Creme Brulee. This little piece of heaven featured actual pieces of peach and a refreshing aftertaste of ginger. It was the perfect end to a perfect dinner.

After my first experience at Encore, I can say with confidence that I highly recommend this charming Colfax restaurant. The waitstaff are attentive and knowledgeable, the food is wonderful, and the atmosphere is unique and lovely. Chef Paul Riley changes the menu about every six months and the restaurant regularly holds special events. We were instructed to call to find out what upcoming events are scheduled. Additionally, I found out that brunch is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I am definitely making a trip back for that!