Saturday, May 30, 2009
Last week, while my husband sweated out 4 days of interviewing with a Denver architecture firm, I roamed the city on my own, exploring the culinary terrain (not to mention a few dozen apartments and rental houses). Denver seems to be a growing food city, and I found some quality eats that I just had to share with you.
Snooze: This kitschy-cool diner specializes in breakfast. They do it right—while some joints have a morning menu that reads like a novel, Snooze takes the high road with a smaller menu of expertly prepared dishes, particularly their pancakes and Benedicts (categorized on the menu under “The Art of Hollandaise”). It was so good, I ate there twice. The pancake selection is tempting, and so they offer a Pancake Flight—a choice of any three pancakes—to satisfy those of us with a fear of commitment. I chose the Chocolate Cherry Pancake (chock full of semi-sweet Ghirardelli chips and covered with sour cherry sauce and drizzled melted chocolate), the Sweet Potato Pancake (with a bourbon-caramel glaze and toasted pecans), and my favorite, the Pineapple Upside Down Pancake (embedded with fresh, caramelized pineapple and drizzled with homemade crème anglaise). We also had the Ham Benedict III, which was a savory indulgence. Snooze makes their English muffins from scratch, does a mean smoked cheddar hollandaise sauce, and the soft-poached eggs were gathered from a local purveyor.
Moe’s Original Barbeque: It’s pretty simple, really—great pulled pork, beer specials and four lanes for bowling. We ate for under thirteen bucks apiece (including a beer), and our platters included from-scratch jalepeno cornbread and two sides. It was a little southern trashy, and a little Lebowski—in other words, a perfect date.
Pho 79: We definitely ventured into what some would consider “the wrong side of the tracks” for this dinner, but it was worth it. We enjoyed a refreshing appetizer of shrimp and chicken summer rolls, followed by monstrous bowls of Phở (a Vietnamese beef and noodle soup), chock full of rare steak, brisket and finely chopped tripe. Pho 79 is light on cost, but heavy on the condiments—we received a heaping platter of bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, sliced hot peppers and sauces to adorn our steaming soup. We slurped hot tea and our noodles as the Vietnamese waiters improved their English by staying glued to Wheel of Fortune blaring on the dining room television (which was perched right above the rickshaw- Classic!) (Post-relocation note: We have moved on from Pho 79. Now it's Pho 95 all the way. Both are on South Federal, where you could pretty much blindfold yourself, spin around 10 times, take ten paces and wind up a Vietnamese restaurant. Overall, I think that Pho 95 has a richer broth and was more consistent in quality from visit to visit.)
Lucile’s Creole Café: This lovely little eatery is nestled near the Washington Park neighborhood of Denver, but it might as well be a block off of Bourbon Street. With hot beignets, chicory coffee and dishes like the ever-indulgent Eggs Sardou, it reminded me of a breakfast I enjoyed in New Orleans years ago (one that admittedly followed what I barely recall as "The Night of a Dozen Hurricanes"). Lucile’s serves breakfast and lunch, and aims for authenticity, from the Crawfish Etouffee to the homemade condiments (a kickin’ ketchup, strawberry jam and apple butter). Some dishes are executed better than others--the shrimp on the Eggs Sardou were very small and poorly seasoned--but overall Lucile's did not disappoint, and the crowd of weekend diners waiting for a table on the front porch suggests that this is one of the city's hot spots.
I also think that a meal at Lucile’s might also bring good luck, because an hour after we ate our breakfast there, I found our new home—a cute little postage stamp of a house just a few blocks away. Emmett was offered the job on Friday, and we signed the lease to the rental on Saturday morning before hopping a flight back to Michigan. The house itself is small, but it has a huge kitchen and a garden in the back yard.
Now we have a big move upon us--from Ann Arbor to the Mile High City. And I can’t wait. There is more to come, as The Hungry Masses relocates to Denver, Colorado.
Posted by Alex Harrison at 10:46 AM