Monday, May 19, 2008

Deluxe at Last!

Friday was our night to be inspired! The Denver Art Museum is always an interesting place to check out on a Friday evening, and as their excellent exhibit Inspiring Impressionism is winding down, we went with a sense of urgency. If you haven't inspected this show, you have until Sunday the 25th of this month to check it out. Then it's off to Seattle. If you hesitate to go because Impressionism isn't your favorite period, you should re-look at the title: Inspiring Impressionism; in other words, it's something of a comparison between the old-masters' work and the art they inspired. In addition to wonderful pieces like Manet's "Still Life with a Salmon", (above) you'll see a good selection of earlier works by El Greco, Titian, Velazquez and Botticelli, among others. Definitely not a show to miss.

As Manet shows us, art and food often go hand-in-hand. After viewing the exhibit we were ready for a little something to eat. Initially we were thinking coffee and dessert, but Novo Coffee across from the museum was already closed. So we headed off with no location in mind. A place that has always captured our imagination, but never our business is Deluxe. Every time we drive down Broadway and see their charming sign, it reminds us that despite being at the top of our list, we never seem to remember to go there. Now, Friday night on Broadway is not the best time to drop-in to this popular, little restaurant and hope for much more than a look of disbelief when you repeat that "no, in fact, we don't have reservations." Fortunately, there was a little table in the back, just perfect for our tete-a-tete. The room is small, loud, and utterly charming. Warm, gold walls with dark-wood furniture and frames, set an inviting yet convivial mood. From where we were sitting we had a great view of the retro dining room and part of the minuscule kitchen. The two-man team was rocking-and-rolling to get the food out and feed the packed dining room. They also cook-up small plates for the companion-lounge next door Delite.

After studying the menu, we decided that we had to change our focus and try a couple of small plates and order some drinks. I had an excellent Southsider (Sapphire Bombay Gin, Lime, Mint, Soda, garnished with Lemon Grass), M had a Mint Julep, both drinks were amazing. We ordered the Monsoon Dumplings and Halibut Ceviche. The dumplings were wonderfully flavorful, stuffed with ground chicken, ginger, garlic, and a mildly-spicy sauce. The Halibut Ceviche was beautifully classic. Just fish, tomato, onion and served with tostadas. Yum, it's summer and we have to make some ceviche, soon!

We still needed our dessert and a Banana's Foster that was on the menu, then off, then back on, was what we decided on. We didn't get table side flambe, but in a place so small that was a good thing. Served with ice-cream, it was really good. Not our perfect dessert, but definitely a nice way to top-off an wonderful evening of food and art.

Deluxe
30 S. Broadway
Denver, CO 80209
303-722-1550

Friday, May 16, 2008

Benny's Basics

Last night, comfort food at Benny's:

1) 1/2 Litre margarita on the rocks;
2) Side of carne asada;
3) Side of chicharrones;
4) 2 Orders of corn tortillas;
5) Side of guacamole.

Perfect recipe for two weary souls (or soles, oh my feet)!

Benny's Restaurante y Tequila Bar
301 E. 7th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
303-894-0788

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Meals with a Baby

7 months old; that's how old my niece is. Last week I had the time of my life hanging around with a baby! I also got to see what eating out is like from a parent's point of view. "Wow" is all I can muster. Kid eats a steady diet of milk and mush, suburban parents: about the same. Just kiddin'! Getting out of their exurban town to Portland isn't as easy as it used to be for my brother and his wife; they were happy to get beyond Applebees and Burger King. So here is the count, kids:

Lunch at Patzcuaro's: my first foray with the happy family. Baby just off the plane, not too happy! The food was great, however. Tacos de carnitas, cabeza, and asada were stellar and impressed my family. Best of all? The beautiful hand-made tortillas. If you haven't been to this great taqueria in Highland's, get there for some tacos, tortas, or milanesa.

You never know what will impress out-of-towners, but try this: rent a movie, chill a few beers, and call Great Wall for some chinese delivery. If you want to scare your guests, take them to 440 Colfax on Friday night to order take-out from Great Wall! We opted for the kid-friendly delivery and enjoyed some amazing Beef Lo-Mein, Sweet and Sour Pork, Mu Goo Gai Pan, Fried Shrimp, and Cashew Chicken. This is New York style, generous portions, fast service. If you haven't tried to get around town with a baby, trust me, parents will appreciate this family style, down-home dinning. (Look darling, they have a buzzer-intercom, just like on Seinfeld!)

Wednesday night was game night. Rockies versus the Cubs. What did that mean for us: brats and kebabs on the grill. My brother picked up some nice shrimp and veggies at Wild Oats (no, It's not Whole Foods until the sign changes!) and undid the goodness of it all with some Johnsonville brats from Safeway. Oh well, they were good. And what did the baby have? You guessed it: milk and mush. We tried to give her doughnuts from Lamar's and coffee earlier in the day, but she broke out in a rash. Oops!

Probably one of the best meals we had when my family was visiting was at New Saigon on Federal Blvd. Our first visit there about a month ago had been great. We enjoyed some amazing Pho and were intrigued by the extensive menu. After a couple hours at the Butterfly Pavilion with the baby, we decided that Vietnamese was in order (no, I have no idea what the connection is, just forget it). My brother and I were hungry for beef: he had the Bo 5 Mon (beef prepared 5 ways); I had the Bo Luc Lac (sauteed beef in a pepper soy sauce). These were amazing, tender and so flavorful. The Bo 5 Mon we figured, would be a great appetizer for a 4-6 people. My brother's wife had a rice noodle bowl topped with shrimp and grilled pork, she loved it. My wife has been in search of the perfect wonton soup bowl all her life. She will try it at almost any restaurant just to see if it approaches the Holy Grail of Wonton that she had somewhere in Portland, she really doesn't even know where. This one almost did it. And that's all I'll say about New Saigon's food, because that should say it all. Oh, and from a kids POV, our waiter rocked! He knew just how to make our little one as happy as can be; which is great, when your stuck eating milk and mush.