Eatin’ in Denver (2)

October 8, 2011 at 11:42 PM Leave a comment

In the last year, Jeff has been to Denver three times. During the first trip he enjoyed dinner at Rioja and TAG, almost next-door neighbors on Larimer Street. A few months later he was back in the city and had the opportunity to try Cho Lon a remarkable Asian fusion restaurant that serves some of the most inventive Chinese/Asian food he’s ever had. This trip, Jeff went back to some favorites and tried a new place. Again, he was amazed at the creativity found in the mile-high city.

Upon arrival, Jeff wanted a quick-small meal. The flight was on time, but sat on the runway for an extra ½ hour. After check-in, he ran down to TAG and ordered a glass of Lebanese wine (yes, wine from Lebanon!) and the pork tenderloin dinner. This was a beautifully grilled section accompanied by a stuffed chili filled with corn, bacon and snap peas that exploded over the pork and onto the wonderfully pungent Guajillo (chili) sauce. A perfect, quick, reasonably light meal.

The next day, Jeff hoped to return to Cho Lon. The memory of the Gruyere dumplings and stir-fry Brussels sprouts was calling. Unfortunately, he could not get a reservation. Just in case, he showed up at the front desk hoping to squeeze in a kitchen-bar seat to enjoy the show. No luck. The reason no seat was available is that this was their one-year anniversary and they were having a special multi-course extravaganza for $150. The place was packed. If Michele was along, we may have done it (?) but not after a full day of work. Instead, he ran over to Rioja and grabbed a bar seat for an enjoyable dinner. The fig tart was a perfect starter and based on recommendation, he had the Kurobuto pork chop. It was decadently tender with a fabulous black truffle crème fraiche and smoked bacon vinaigrette surrounding the chop and cheddar “tatter tots”. After ordering dessert and tasting one bit, it all seemed familiar. He had again ordered the Lemon Sabayon Tart, just as the first visit and the meal (and dessert) were as delicious as the first time.

During both previous visits, Fruition was fully booked. Determined not to miss what is generally regarded as the best restaurant in Denver, Jeff made reservations a month in advance. The wait and the planning were worth it. This was food at its best.

Jeff started with the Potato-Wrapped Oysters Rockefeller. An impossibly thin potato slice was wrapped around the oyster before frying. The potato become something like a potato-chip and the oyster inside was succulent and perfect. The tangy spinach bedding added a second layer of complexity to the meal with the parmesan-leek emulsion the topper. Jeff tried to stretch out every bite to make this amazing dish last. These were probably the best cooked oysters Jeff has ever had. Ever.

It must be pork month in Denver. For an entrée, Jeff honed in on the pork chop and the duck. After a consult with the waitress, it became clear that he would have a pork dish three days in a row. Regardless of how good the others were (and as indicated, they were good!) this was the paragon. The chop was extra thick, but cut like a slice of Irish butter and possessed that same buttery taste. It sat upon a goat cheese and corn pancake that was surrounded by a grilled vegetable succotash and tomato vinaigrette. Like the appetizer, Jeff slowly enjoyed each morsel.

Desserts all looked good, but the Gorgonzola Dolce sounded the most interesting and it was. A slice of creamy Gorgonzola cheese was surrounded by sliced figs, die-sized pieces of Olive Oil cake and pickled red onion marmalade. Three collections graced the rectangular plate. This was a genius combination and one which Jeff will not soon forget, just like the entire Fruition experience.

A year ago, Jeff had never in his life been to Denver and now he has had the opportunity to sample some of the best food the city has to offer. Isn’t life interesting? Isn’t food grand?

http://www.riojadenver.com/ 1431 Larimer Street Denver, CO 80202 303-825-2588

http://tag-restaurant.com/ 1441 Larimer Street Denver, CO 80202 303-996-9985

http://www.cholon.com/denver/ 1555 Blake Street Denver, CO 80202 303-353-5223

http://fruitionrestaurant.com/ 1313 East 6th Avenue Denver, CO 80218 303-831-1962

Entry filed under: Eatin' Out of Town. Tags: , , , .

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