The culinary party of the year is fast approaching. Denver Restaurant Week runs from February 23 to March 8, 2013 and reservations are filling fast. More than 300 restaurants will participate this year, each featuring multi-course dinners for the familiar price of $52.80 (for two), $26.40 (for one) sans tax and tip.
We’ve done the legwork for you and combed through the menus of each restaurant. This will be a three-part series highlighting neighborhoods. Below are standouts from Boulder, Cherry Creek and East Colfax / Capitol Hill.
Boulder – In true Boulder fashion, the majority of the restaurant menus read fresh, local and plenty of vegetarian options.
Arugula Bar e Ristorante has a lengthy restaurant week menu offering four courses with many vegetarian and gluten free options. The elegant Italian restaurant focuses on seasonality, sustainability and selects seafood in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines to prevent overfishing. Stand outs include Hazel Dell Mushrooms with Gorgonzola cheese, Sushi grade Octopus Carpaccio, Penne Pasta with roasted winter squash, apples, fresh rosemary, local honey, walnuts and Val de’Aosta cheese, and Seared Sea Scallops with red pepper / almond Romesco sauce over a celery-herb salad. View the full menu here: http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant/menu?id=814&Arugula+Bar+e+Ristorante&n=yes
Colterra chef / owner Bradford Heap focuses on Southern French and Northern Italian cuisine at the charming restaurant. Heap works closely with local farms such as Oxford, Haystack Mountain, Cure, Mouco Camembert and Red Wagon along with its own garden during the summer. The three course menu highlights winter vegetables such as Butternut Squash and Coconut Curry soup, Tuscan Chickpea and Farro soup, Black Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna with garlic crushed potatoes, Hazel Dell Shitake Mushroom Risotto, and Crispy Duck Leg Confit with carrot potato puree. View the full menu here: http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant/menu?id=1354&Colterra+Food+%26+Wine&n=yes
Cherry Creek – Restaurant week is tough on restaurants with the crowds, prix-fixe menus and the volume of entitlement. Many top restaurants don’t participate, but two of Cherry Creek’s are on the list this year. Be sure to tip your wait staff, they are working overtime!
Elway’s has wowed the masses with its USDA Prime steaks, fin fish, crustaceans and exceptional service. The restaurant week offerings showcase ample serving portions. Start with a choice of fresh soup or salad and move along to Prime Sirloin (10-oz), Prime Rib (10-oz) and a Roasted half chicken. Decadent sides include Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, Creamed Corn and Sautéed Broccoli. Mini-brownies with espresso cream offer a sweet finish. The full menu can be viewed here: http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant/menu?id=392&Elway%27s+Cherry+Creek&n=yes
Satchel’s on 6this a favorite neighborhood gem with a thoughtful menu and curated wine list. Set in a cozy space with wood tones and exposed brick the menu features new American cuisine. Its restaurant week menu offers a lovely additional course of cheese and charcuterie including poached pears. Standouts include Aranci (fried risotto) with aioli, Short Rib with parsnip puree, Flat Iron Steak Salad with fresh arugula, roasted tomatoes and blue cheese, Polenta Lasagna, Mushroom Risotto with sautéed asparagus and cherry reduction, Vegetable and Mushroom Ragu with spicy tomato, Parmesan, Burrata and fresh basil, and Blackened Prime Rib with tomatoes, tarragon, shallots and sherry cream sauce. The dessert course offers Chocolate Mousse Cake, Sweet Action Ice Cream, and Beignets. Satchel’s is also offering wine pairings for $20 a person. The full menu is here: http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant/menu?id=1166&Satchel%27s+on+6th&n=yes
East Colfax / Capitol Hill –
Mataam Fez Moroccan is a colorful spot on the otherwise heavy Italian and chophouse restaurant week list. Established in 1976, the restaurant is authentic (which means dancers and animated pouring of tea). The menu offers five courses starting with traditional Harira Lentil Soup and a Moroccan Salad Platter including marinated eggplant, spiced carrots, marinated beets, cucumber and tomatoes, spinach and potatoes. The third course offers a Bastilla appetizer, shredded chicken, almonds and eggs in a traditional pastry with sugar and cinnamon. The fourth course offers a large assortment of entrees including Cornish Hen, Slow-Braised Lamb with whole artichoke, Hot & Spicy Chicken, Seasonal Fish and vegetarian entrees including Artichoke M’Kally with whole artichoke and vegetarian cous cous. The meal ends with fruit and hot mint tea. The full menu can be seen here: http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant/menu?id=1257&Mataam+Fez+Moroccan+Restaurant&n=yes
Solera Restaurant & Wine Bar is inspired by the Spanish farmhouse concept with comforting and rustic cuisine. Chef / owner Goose Sorensen stays true to the Spanish philosophy of slow roasting and braising quality meats. Standouts from the three course menu include Creamy Red Curry and Roasted Tomato soup with Lentil Onion salad, Grilled Niman Ranch Pork Tenderloin with garlic mashers, confit tomato and spinach salsa verde, Pan Roasted Sea Scallops with white truffled mac and cheese, and Grilled Atlantic Salmon with smoky bacon, cauliflower and truffled pea vinaigrette. Desserts included Yellow Shortcake with Vanilla Bean ice cream or Chocolate Brownie with peanut butter anglaise. The full menu can be viewed here: http://www.solerarestaurant.com/menu/
Next week, we’ll dig into another three neighborhoods. If you read something you like, be sure to make a reservation.