I just returned from a fabulous girls weekend in Denver. It was one of those weekends you never want to end; ok actually I think my liver did want it to end. Five amazing women, three dogs, (all of which we managed to jam into one Subaru Forester for a trip out to Red Rocks Canyon) lots of laughter, some tears and really good times. Although the number one highlight of the trip was my friends of course, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool the foodie/bar scene in Denver is.
We started the foodie fun at my friend Lauryn’s restaurant, The Coral Room. It’s a totally cute neighbourhood spot that has its crowd of locals (as every place we went in Denver does). The menu is focused on local quality ingredients, and somewhat complex dishes that are far from convoluted, but totally delicious in every way. After polishing off a meat and cheese plate, complete with house made onion marmalade that was to die for, and delicious castel veltrano olives, I had the Colorado black bass (when in Rome right?) which came with whipped potatoes and sauteed purple cabbage. We also tried the pumpkin ravioli and the the evening’s special; filet with creamed spinach, crisp potato chips and a rootbeer demi-glace. Everything was fantastic, had a lot of depth in flavour, and the plates were really well composed without being ‘fluffy’. The prices are totally reasonable for the portions so this should definitely be on your hit list if you’re in town. I hear they do a good brunch too!
After dinner we headed to Williams and Graham, which is this totally cool speakeasy type joint. You walk in to a little vestibule and then once you get the green light to go in, the hostess opens up a bookcase and you walk into a 1920’s wonderland. The bar staff are dressed like Nucky Thompson’s cronies in Boardwalk Empire and they serve up just about any classic cocktail you can think of. We were served frenet which is an Italian herbaceous bitter drink that all the Denver hipsters are into. It’s like Jaegermeister without the sugar.
The next morning, we woke up and needed to tend to our high altitude induced hangovers and headed to Highland Tap & Burger, another cute neighbourhood spot. It was so warm we could have sat on the patio, but inside was just as nice. With lots of TV’s it’s a great place to watch the game. We all opted for their signature cheeseburger, although the menu does have lots of interesting add ons like chimichurri sauce or rootbeer pulled pork (apparently rootbeer is the it food of the moment in Denver). Seriously one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while. And the homemade pickles are not to be missed here. I washed my ‘breakfast’ down with a pint of the Odell Levity Amber Ale to cure what was ailing me. I also picked up a 6 pack of their seasonal Isolation Ale and it was top notch. I love a good stouty winter ale, but can usually only drink 1 or 2. The nice thing about the Isolation Ale is that it’s light and malty, but still has that nice warming winter flavour.
The foodie fun continued on the way back from fetching another friend from the airport, at The Berkshire in Stapleton. If you don’t eat pork you better not set foot in this place, because 90% of their menu items contain pork in some form. We’re all totally down with the piggy so along with some cocktails we indulged in an afternoon snack of Berkshire spuds (bacon wrapped potatoes), deep fried pickles (bacon free), stuffed wrapped jalapenos (yep, they’re wrapped with bacon too), and firecracker shrimp (do I even need to tell you what these are wrapped in?). The food was all excellent and the atmosphere is fun.
Our last stop was at The Squeaky Bean. We were spoiled rotten here by our friend Steve and thus, the Bean deserves a whole post to itself that will be forthcoming, so stay tuned.
Needless to say, I left Denver with a happy heart for many reasons. I got to see my girls, eat some of the best meals I’ve had back to back anywhere, and enjoy fresh mountain air and good local beer. Oh, and there was some nice wine in there too somewhere I think. Bottom line, if you have an excuse to visit Denver, make it happen, because it’s sneaker hit. I’ve always said I’d never live anywhere more than an hour from the ocean, but I’d make an exception for D-Town.