I have a new hero. Her name is Chef Jen Jasinski and she owns and operates three restaurants in Denver, Colorado – all of which, we happened to gorge ourselves. Well, one, we just tried. After our first night at Rioja, it was no coincidence we ate at the other two restaurants. We headed back to Larimer Square to check out a doggy boutique… Bella is so spoiled, but we missed her so much, it seemed easy to drop the kind of cash that we did. Besides, in retrospect, she only cost about a dinner and lunch 🙂 Her three new collars:
Brad picked the camo and fishing – which can only be used in a hunting or fishing setting. I picked the bella bean cupcake collar and matching leash – I wish it was pink, but alas, bella and cupcakes will have to suffice. It’s a little too big now, but after seeing her today after four days, she will definitely grow into it quickly!
Ok, back to Chef Jen. We went to Euclid Hall for lunch. Located just around the corner from Larmier Square, Euclid Hall was probably my favorite. It’s like bar food gone wild – but amazingly wild and good and fantastic – all in one! We started off with the bone marrow.
Let me start with this – mouth-watering, amazing, probably the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Hands down, great. Honestly. If you haven’t tried this, I suggest we evaluate our friendship. Although I don’t know how to prepare this myself, the waiter explained that it’s soaked in milk before it’s prepared. He could have said it was pulled out of the gutter and if it still tasted the way it did, I would have been licking the ground begging for more. For those of you who had it, you know what I’m talking about.
For the main course, I had the Roasted Duck Poutine – duck gravy, black pepper and Wisconsin cheddar curds over hand-cut French fries. If you don’t know what “poutine” is, google it and then try it.
Brad had: Euclidean Cheeseteak – cheddar gougere, house-made cheese sauce, sliced Prime tri-tip steak and pickled peppers and onions. He also ordered a side of House-made Kenebec fries with a bacon aioli.
Unfortunately I am back in Santa Barbara as I write this, and I kid you not, my mouth is watering. I’m sad because I know I cannot get anything like this here. However, probably for the better since I don’t even know how much weight I’ve gained yet. I did, however, bring back Chef Jen’s cookbook Perfect Bites, so I will be updating all of you when I try out my first. thing… I’m thinking it’s going to be the Cardamom Pork Belly!!! Mmmmmmmm.
Ok, dinner. We went to Bistro Vendome, also on Larimer Square and directly across the street from Rioja. I also read somewhere that it was rated “best patio dining”. Considering the tables were covered in snow, I’ll take their word for it. Word on the (Denver) street (from EVERYONE we talked to) is that it’s usually sunny and the snow doesn’t last for longer than a day. We were assured that we came at a unusual time. Unusual or not, it was clear that the patio would have been a nice option sans le snow. We did, however, enjoy a tasty meal inside.
For our starter, we ordered the special of the night: thymus gland (aka sweat bread) wrapped in bacon with white beans, crimini mushrooms and les haricots verts over a pear and port reduction. We made the mistake (?) of googling the thymus gland while eating… actually, it wasn’t that bad. We were very confused though, because when our server explained it, we were thinking more along the lines of actual bread… regardless, it was great! We were later surprised with OUR VERY FIRST AMUSE BOUCHE!! It was a warm chicken salad with asparagus and sweet potatoes and tossed in a vinagrette. Yummmmm.
Now for the main course… drum roll please.
Me: Truite en Croute de Pisaches: sauteed pisachio and spice crusted trout, new potatoes (AMAZING), asparagus, bacon, onions, red peppers, parsley oil
Brad: Elan Facon Bourguignonne: red wine elk stew, crimini mushrooms, haricot vert, onion, tomato, parsnips, fried sweet potatoes
There really aren’t enough good things that I can say about Chef Jen or any of her restaurants (Chef Matt Anderson was at Bistro Vendome). We had a wonderful time in Denver and as you can see, we ate really well. I’m sorry that I couldn’t update you in real-time and I didn’t provide a lot of pictures. I hope that in reading this, you are inspired to 1 – go to Denver because clearly they are being overlooked and 2 – try something new. Although you don’t have to go as far as have thymus gland or bone marrow, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Now, back to the kitchen for me…