On La Merise

Denver recently wrapped up this year’s edition of Denver Restaurant Week and B and I chose to participate with some place completely new this year – La Merise.

La Merise is located in Cherry Creek North. We both enjoy French cuisine – which is typically fairly pricey – and it wasn’t too far away from home, so we figured we’d give it a try.

We both had basically the same thing, save for appetizer.

B had Mussels a la Mariniere (fresh mussels steamed in a garlic cream white wine sauce). I snagged one – it wasn’t bad, but I’ve definitely had better (particularly at the no-longer-around Le Central).

I had the Escargots de Bourgogne (imported French snails baked in a homemade garlic-herb butter).

la_merise_escargot

They were some of the better snails I’ve had, but the butter was a bit too herb-y, almost like a pesto, which was a bit overwhelming.

For the entree, we both had Beef Bourguignon (all natural beef braised in red wine and veal demi glace with vegetables, mushrooms, bacon lardons, and herbs; served with mashed potatoes).

la_merise_boeuf_bourgignon

This … was delicious. Our only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it. B wasn’t the biggest fan of the pearl onions in it, but that problem was easily solved as I snarfed them down.

For dessert, we both chose the Chocolate Mousse (French style chocolate mousse).

la_merise_mousse_chocolat

Completely chocolate-y, completely delicious. Again, we wish there would have been more of it. Perfect way to end the meal.

We’d walked past La Merise several times before finally deciding to eat there for DRW, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be back, as it was delicious.

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Denver Restaurant Week 2013

I talked about Denver Restaurant Week last year on this blog and we went again this year. “Cheap” food can be hard to find, after all.

As with last year, we went to Rodizio again, since 5280 week is the only time we can truly afford it. I had a food baby afterward that made me look about three months pregnant, but it was totally worth it. Mmmm.

However, we also wanted to try someplace new. We decided on LoHi Steakbar, a place that looked tempting last year, but we ultimately passed on. This year, it was our “new” choice, and it was delicious.

We each had a choice of appetizer: I chose the French Onion soup, which wasn’t bad – not the best I’ve had, but still pretty tasty, and Brandon had the buffalo wings, which he enjoyed. I tried them – good flavor, but too spicy for my weenie taste buds.

For the main course, we both chose the classic Steak Frites – I chose a garlic-herb butter to go with mine and Brandon, the blue cheese butter with his. I like a good steak-frites, and LoHi’s was definitely delicious (D Bar Desserts also has a tasty steak-frites).

Then, we had the choice a few desserts to split; we chose the bistro style lemon tart:
lohi_lemon_tart
Very, very delicious. We devoured this thing.

All in all, we’re very glad we went. However, looking at menu prices, we realized that by doing the $52.80 deal, we really only saved about $10, which isn’t that much. Doing Restaurant Week at Rodizio, in contrast, saves at least $30, which is a much better deal. That being said, DRW is for either getting a good deal on food or using it as a good excuse to try new places. Would we have tried LoHi had it not been for DRW? Perhaps, but I ultimately doubt it. Therefore, it was good that we went.

Denver Restaurant Week 2012

Every year in late-February, early-March, Denver does its Restaurant Week (two weeks now, since it’s so popular). I’m sure other cities do the same; various restaurants in the Denver metro area do a special menu for DRW where typically one person dines for $26.40 or two people for $52.80 (since Denver is the Mile High City and one mile is 5280 feet … we use that number a lot ’round these parts), though it can vary at normally cheaper restaurants. It’s a great way to a.) try places you’ve always wanted to try but never did because they were too expensive or b.) go to places you love but rarely eat at due to cost.

For the hubby and I, we went out twice for DRW for both of the above reasons.

Rodizio Grill was our choice for reason B above. It holds a sentimental place in our hearts as it was the location of our first date, had been our annual New Year’s Eve date place until we did D Bar this year and was where we held our rehearsal dinner. It’s a Brazilian-style churrascaria (steakhouse) with a salad bar and gauchos who walk around with giant swords of meat. It’s a food orgy to be sure and if you’re not stuffed walking out of there, you didn’t truly experience the place.

Although, one of these days, I want to not eat as they bring food just to see how much I end up eating there. I probably haven’t yet because the thought of how much I actually eat there kind of scares me …

The Oceanaire Seafood Room was our choice for reason A above. We’d always seen it while driving downtown and since both of us love seafood, we’ve been meaning to try it, but seafood gets expensive living here. Being landlocked will do that, obviously.

So, when we saw the tasting menu for 52.80 week and it looked pretty decent, we decided to make our reservations and try it out.

The actual restaurant was really cool. The theme is 1930s oceanliner – very streamlined. The actual bar is in the same location as the oyster bar and the overall aesthetic was very pleasing (go clicky the link – there are pictures).

The meal though … was disappointing. For the first course, Brandon had the creamy potato bisque which really was quite good. I had the New England Clam Chowder which was … not. There was some odd spice in it that I couldn’t quite place my finger on that gave it a funky taste. The Oceanaire Web site says its chowder is award-winning; well, not in my book. Brandon gives me a lot of crap because I very, extremely rarely order chowder away from a coast.  I went to school in Boston and ate a lot of good chowder. Therefore, my chowder palate is highly refined. This did not live up to my expectations.

Before the soup, they gave us the standard sourdough which was good, but would have been better warm. It should have been, if only for the sheer fact that our reservations were for when the place opened for dinner. The butter was also cold which a lot of restaurants do and I hate all of them for it. I don’t like destroying my bread by trying to spread cold butter on it. Places? Get on this. Along with the bread, we also got a random tray of vegetables (wrinkly grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, olives, pickles). It was underwhelming.

For the main course, Brandon got the grilled flat iron steak and shrimp. He enjoyed it, but also said that it was nothing special. I took a chance and tried the almond dusted Idaho rainbow trout. I shouldn’t have taken the chance. The fish itself wasn’t all that bad, but the accompanying items (date-bleu cheese butter, butternut squash, bacon) melded together for a not-pleasant combination of flavors. We also ordered some matchstick fries off the regular menu as my trout didn’t really come with any sides – another mistake on our part. I love French fries in general, but I did not love these.

For dessert, Brandon got the key lime pie and I got the cheesecake. I have had MUCH better cheesecake before and Brandon has had better key lime pie. Plus the tiny squares they gave us reminded us of the crappy squares of cheesecake and cake they serve at Country Buffet. Not something I want to be reminded of when we’re spending that much money on food.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend The Oceanaire … unless you’re not a seafood snob. Then, go party – you’ll probably like it.