On Elway’s

We’re in the midst of Denver Restaurant Week right now (ends Sunday! … I think …) and we once again participated. We’ve been doing our best to try new places and we FINALLY made it to Elway’s.

As steakhouses are stupid expensive, DRW is a great way to try them (like we did Shanahan’s two years ago and Eddie Merlot (though I didn’t blog about it) last year).

Elway’s is a place we’ve been talking about trying for years, but we haven’t either because the menu didn’t look that great or … whatever. But this year … we went.

The actual menu at the restaurant was a bit different than what was shown online, so beware if you choose restaurants this way.

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Internet had fries as a side. And different salad options.

We each had a drink – B had their version of an Old-Fashioned and I had the special Cabernet listed at the bottom of the menu (wasn’t bad).

We also each basically chose the same thing – house salad, the 6 oz filet, broccoli – with differing desserts. We also added on a baked potato for carbs … and because restaurant mashed potatoes never come close to what I can do at home.

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The house salad. Standard, basic. Dressing was possibly a bit too acidic, but still good. Whatever, it’s a salad.

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I had already chopped into my filet when I remembered crap, photo. Filet was DELICIOUS. We’ve definitely been to steakhouses where the steak is not great quality (I’m looking at you, Prime Bellagio), but this? This was tasty. The peppers that came with it were a bit weird, but eh. The broccoli with cheese sauce was good, but nothing special; the broccoli was just plain steamed broccoli with no seasoning, so it needed the cheese sauce. The baked potato with all the various toppings was pretty dang tasty. I was a fan.

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Dessert. B had the key lime pie (which I don’t like) and said it was okay – not good, not bad, just there. As for me … the vanilla bean ice cream was good. The cookies weren’t warm (fail), but the chips were still kinda gooey, so they get a pass. Not the best cookie dessert I’ve had in Denver, but it was honestly kinda up there.

Will we go back (not for DRW)? The steak was good, but I don’t know if it was THAT good. So maybe? But knowing us, honestly probably not.

(Also of note: we went to the Cherry Creek location, since there are a few around town.)

On Ultimate Dinosaurs at DMNS

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has an exhibit on Ultimate Dinosaurs (that is, newer dinosaurs unearthed in recent years) that’s actually ending in a few days – Monday is the final day – and we had been delaying forever on going. So, on January 4, we finally went.

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Entrance.

We all know the usual suspects – Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, our personal favorite T. rex – but this exhibit had other, lesser-known dinosaurs (as mentioned above, because they’re fairly new discoveries). Pretty cool to learn about.

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Three smaller new ones. They also had the fossils/casts of the fossils.

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Husband and dinosaur.

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Nigersaurus head. It has a funny mouth.

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Love the fin-type spines on this one.

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This leg bone is a lot taller than I.

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Our three dinosaurs got in on the diorama action.

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Gigantosaurus, a theropod relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

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SO COOL.

If you’re in Denver and like dinosaurs (and need something to do this weekend), check it out!

On Steuben’s

Over the past … year, probably, I’ve developed somewhat of an unhealthy obsession with lobster rolls. I’ve eaten several of them at Lobster Me in Las Vegas (warm lobster rolls are the BEST) but have been trying to find good ones in the Denver area.

Fresh Fish Company? Is okay.

Everything I’ve read, however, says go to Steuben’s.

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Steuben’s, located on 17th Street in the Uptown neighborhood in Denver in a former garage, is almost like a retro diner on crack, recreating, as the website says, “American Regional classics.” The decor is all in chocolate browns and sky blues and is richly gorgeous. The owners named the restaurant after a restaurant/nightlife hot spot their great uncles owned on Boylston St. in Boston back in the 1940s through 1960s.

After learning of the Northeast heritage/roots, I wasn’t surprised they had the best lobster roll in town.

I went one Thursday afternoon about a month ago. I had tried hitting up Civic Center Eats for the lobster roll food truck, but the truck wasn’t there, so I said screw it, and drove over to Steuben’s.

I loved the aforementioned decor. I enjoyed how the water jugs came in re-purposed liquor bottles.

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I ordered the lobster roll (of course) and treated myself to a chocolate shake. It came, as all good shakes should, with a tin of the extra on the side.

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It. Was. Delicious. I know I said above that I prefer warm lobster rolls (lobster and butter in bread as opposed to essentially lobster salad), but Steuben’s roll was on point. The fries were wonderful (if not a tad under-salted) and the shake was rich, thick, and everything a chocolate shake should be.

I raved about it to Brandon later and as a result, we found ourselves there a few weeks later.

We happened upon happy hour and I noticed they had deviled eggs for $.50 each. Clearly I had to try some, because seriously, who has deviled eggs on their menu?

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I will say that I prefer my mom’s or my brother’s over Steuben’s, but they were totally worth the dollar.

Brandon tried the Monte Cristo, and it was as rich and artery-clogging as you’d expect of a good Monte Cristo.

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I probably should have tried something different, but that would just be insanity.

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Loooook at the lobster!

I should probably go back and try more of the menu – everything I saw being delivered to the other diners around me/us looked fantastic – but I can’t guarantee I won’t just order the lobster roll again, because I am weak. Still, tasty place, highly recommended.

On Casa Bonita

If you grew up in Denver – or watched “South Park” in the early 2000s, you’ve probably heard of Casa Bonita.

If you haven’t, you should probably try and find that episode (it’s from 2003) and watch the last seven minutes or so. Everything Trey Parker and Matt Stone put in there? Completely accurate, down to the sketchy strip mall the restaurant lives in.

In any case, Casa Bonita is affectionately known as Mexican Disneyland. We used to go when I was a kid relatively frequently (frequently being whenever we had out of town guests) and I remember hating it. Of course, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Mexican food and Casa Bonita’s is not … good. However, when Brandon and I got married, we decided (okay, I did, because I’m cruel) to take a lot of our out-of-town guests and friends – most of whom didn’t know each other – and take them to Casa Bonita without their knowledge.

I figured, at the very least, we’re old enough to drink now and if it was that bad, booze could save the night. It ended up being the perfect ice breaker, and a great story for everyone to tell their friends from home. Back in 2011, the restaurant was also still embracing their connection to “South Park.”

We hadn’t been back since … until earlier in August. My brother and sister-in-law decided to go there for my niece’s second birthday. I documented the experience to share …

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This pink tower is in a ghetto strip mall on west Colfax.

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The entertainment requires you to purchase their food …

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Birthday family (and a glimpse of the food).

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Gorilla show.

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Black Bart (or, in this case, Bertha) show.

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Flaming juggler cliff diver show.

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Sopapilla. Really the only reason to come – they are as good as advertised.

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Old-time photo.

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Forget which show this was from …

Not pictured: Black Bart’s cave, puppet show, mariachis (didn’t see them that night …), falling apart arcade.

If you find yourself in Denver and want a truly “Denver” experience (that’s not the damn mountains) … go. It’s totally worth it.

Cartier at the Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum currently has an exhibit on jewelry house Cartier called Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century. Ever since I heard about it, I wanted to go. Good exhibits are also a nice excuse to hit up the DAM – last time I went was for an Yves-Saint Laurent exhibition.

The pieces displayed inside were gorgeous and there was some nifty history that was tied into the exhibit as well (for example, a section filled with cigarette cases and the like due to the rise in popularity of smoking). However, I can’t help but think back to a piece I read in the Denver Post back when the exhibit started which essentially says that the show is also free marketing for Cartier, a company still very much in business today.

Whichever way you feel, I would still say it’s very much worth a trip to the Denver Art Museum, as the pieces displayed can truly be called “art.” You still have a chance to see it for another month; it ends March 15.

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Going in.

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Necklace, I believe for an Indian Maharajah.

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Bracelet.

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One of the “tutti frutti” necklaces.

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Stunning cigarette case.

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Traveling bar kit.

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Replica of Charles Lindbergh’s Wright Whirlwind engine.

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Necklace in the adverts.

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Beautiful ruby set. Birthstone!

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Probably my favorite necklace of the whole collection. No idea why.

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Blurry, yes, but taken for the sheer size of this pendant – it’s a 478-carat sapphire …

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Watch. So, cool historical fact that I’m going to presume is true – apparently one of the Cartiers invented the modern wristwatch for a Brazilian airplane pilot who needed an easier way to check the time other than pulling out a pocket watch, which was the fashion at the time.

Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens

I’ve known about glass artist Dale Chihuly for a little while – mainly because of his work at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Awesome stuff.

So, when an exhibition of his came to the Denver Botanic Gardens, I knew I had to go. It started in June, but I heard they were doing night tours (now sold out) starting in October, so I decided to wait until then to go.

I am SO glad I went – very, very cool time. If you’re in Denver, go before it’s gone; if you’re not, and an exhibit of his comes to town, go. You will not regret it.

Here is a small sampling of all the photos I took when I went.

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This boat did not work as well at night.

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A friend described this as Chihuly meets Walter White.

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Another exhibit that didn’t work quite as well at night.

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Workshop display.

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These were awesome during the day, too, but the sunset behind them was too good to pass up.

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Same deal with this one.

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This worked a lot better at night with the reflection.

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Shadow play on this one looked awesome at night. During the day, fairly unremarkable, comparatively.

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Awesomeness of these came out at night.

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On Civic Center EATS

While I get in the terrible, terrible habit of delaying these blogs until the things contained within are no longer around, the topic of today’s post isn’t over quite yet! Okay, so Thursday’s the last day, but still …

Anyway, for the past nine years, the city of Denver does a thing called Civic Center EATS on the vast majority of Tuesdays and Thursdays from late May through early October. Essentially, a bunch of food trucks converge on Civic Center Park from 11am through 2pm to feed you delicious, delicious lunch. We’ve considered going for at least the past three years, but finally only made it this year.

And then we went twice. The first time was in the midst of date day to the zoo and the DMNS.

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The masses of people.

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Where I got my lunch.

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Mmmm, chicken souvlaki pita.

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Brandon and his sliders.

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Slider close-up.

The first time we went, we went on a Thursday. The second time, on a Tuesday as different trucks will show up each day. Certain trucks are only Tuesdays, others Thursdays; some, both days.

The second time, we met downtown after we both got off our respective jobs. I forget exactly what Brandon had, but I had a lobster BLT:

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Thinner bacon probably would have been better …

If you’re in Denver mid-week in the summer and want a fun (and possibly affordable; depends on how crazy you get …) lunch idea, Civic Center EATS is a fantastic option.

On the DMNS Maya Exhibit

This past spring and summer, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science had an exhibit on the Maya. As a I took a Mayan archaeology class in college (oh, electives …), I really wanted to make this exhibit. So, in mid-July on a mutual day off, Brandon and I made it a point to head to the DMNS (and the Zoo – hit up both on the same day) to see the exhibit.

The exhibit was really pretty cool – it had a plethora of artifacts from several different sites. It also had some fun interactive stuff. Below is a smattering of photos.

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Sign at the entrance.

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Statue.

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Dresden Codex. Important text when it comes to the Maya.

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Turtle (with a bit of Maya myth included).

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You could create your own Maya names. We could also create our own stelae, which was cool.

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Ball game.

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See that “Courtesy Peabody Museum” thing? Yeah, I spent a bit of time there in college for that Maya class. It made me laugh.

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Brandon being a rockin’ Maya dentist.

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I created a pattern!

Very fun time. One of my favorite exhibits at the DMNS in recent memory.

Denver Chalk Art Festival

Earlier this month, Denver held its annual Chalk Art Festival. I’ve known about it for years and have always wanted to go. This year, Brandon was home and I decided you know what? We’re going. I had a race that morning in Louisville; we came home, I showered and we headed downtown.

We almost didn’t go – traffic/construction downtown was JUST. THAT. BAD. – but we finally gave up, found a garage, parked and walked to Larimer Square where the festival was being held.

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There were a ton of artists featured – many still working on their creations. Most of the artwork was reproductions of famous pieces; some, representing a company (I believe their sponsor? Not 100% sure …). It was really crowded and hard to get a good look at everything, but I was able to get a few pictures of my favorite pieces.

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Octopus.

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Beautiful Art Deco piece.

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Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”.

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Hokkusai recreation.

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Hungry Hungry Hippos. (Brandon loved this one.)

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Blue horse of death from DIA.

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I believe a Colorado twist on Serendipity.

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Not sure the original artist/inspiration, but love the black and white.

I would say I would definitely go to this again, but the crowds made it really difficult to say. We went on the third day (of three). I would say I’d prefer to go on day one, Friday, but I don’t think many if at all of the pieces would be completed … seeing as we went midday on day three and some pieces still weren’t finished.

If you DON’T mind crowds and heat and whatnot, go, definitely go, as the artwork is outstanding.

Root Down Denver

A few weeks back, Brandon and I met our friends Nic and Leanne for dinner at Root Down, a restaurant in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver. The restaurant, located at 33rd and Osage, resides in a former garage.

Root Down has become known in the Denver dining scene for their cuisine which, according to their own words, follows a “field to fork” mentality, trying to stay as organic, natural and local as possible. The menu itself has a list of all of the local farms/distributors on it. As a result, the menu also changes seasonally, so very few things are constant on the menu. We figured this out while reading Yelp reviews of the place waiting for our friends to show – people were recommending dishes that weren’t on the menu currently.

We’re pretty basic when it comes to food – we don’t experiment too crazily and a lot of “exotic” foods make us a bit nervous, but we decided to take the plunge and finally accept Nic’s invite to Root Down (she’d been insisting we go for months) … and were glad we did.

Since we were early for dinner, we sat and waited … and I commented to Brandon that the chairs we were sitting in seemed familiar. I mentioned the possibility that they came from the old Stapleton Airport – Brandon thinks that’s exactly where they came from. Just like Root Down tries to go local with their food, they did the same with their building materials – the floor was an old gym floor, repurposed. It makes for a funky, eclectic, slightly hipster, but very cool, vibe.

Nic and Leanne came and we had some wine (well, the girls; Brandon had to work that night). I don’t remember the red I had – I’m still very much a wine newbie – but it was actually fairly tolerable. Nursed one glass all night, but eh.

We shared two appetizers:

Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad
Tender Belly bacon, quicos, pecorino, compressed apple, fried sweet potatoes, and roasted garlic vin; and

Edamame Hummus
Sesame seeds, medjool dates, olives, radish, chili oil and flatbread (we got gluten-free flatbread for Nic’s celiac)

The Brussels sprouts and kale salad¬†was a lot going on at once, but it all worked at the same time (how, I don’t know). I had quite a bit of it. The hummus was definitely different from other types of hummus I’ve had, but at the same time, it was quite tasty. I had it with cucumber, the surprisingly tasty gluten-free flatbread and watermelon radishes, which I regret not getting a photo of because they are cool looking.

For the meal, Brandon and Nic ended up getting the same thing and Leanne and I did as well. Nic and Brandon had the following:

Colorado Lamb Sliders
Ground lamb, aged white cheddar, harissa aioli, arugula, sweet potato fries and mint-garlic (and curry-lime) yogurt

Nic had hers with gluten-free buns, of course. Speaking of which, the menu is clearly labeled in regard to vegan and/or gluten-free items and has specific cooking areas on their grills as to accommodate as many people as possible. To quote their Web site – “At Root Down we pride ourselves on striving to solve the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’. We have created a dining spot where all dietary needs will be accommodated, including vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free; also allergies or intolerances are always handled professionally by the kitchen team. Our menu has icons reflecting this philosophy, though we always request you notify your server of specific needs.”

I tried the sliders; something on them – probably the aioli – was way too spicy for my tastes, but I probably ate more of Brandon’s sweet potato fries than he did. Oops.

In reading the reviews, a lot of people said to try the seasonal gnocchi, so that’s exactly what I (and Leanne) did:

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi
Roasted Hazel Dell mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, red kuri squash, poached egg, piquillo-almond pesto and bacon vin

It. was. fantastic. I inhaled it. It was a decent-sized portion and I devoured it. Definitely try the seasonal gnocchi if you go.

While we were all fairly full, we still decided we needed dessert … so we split one:

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Chocolate Truffle
Coconut chia sorbet, carrot-honey coulis, port wine raisins and candied almonds

While it looks fantastic, this was actually my least favorite part of the meal. I’m glad we split this between the four of us because I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to eat this all by myself.

Dinner was a bit pricey for the four of us, but it was well worth the good food, good friends and good conversation.

If you’re in Denver – or even the airport! Root Down has an outpost on Concourse C at Denver International Airport – and are looking for locally-sourced cuisine and/or have special dietary needs, give Root Down a try. We’re glad we did.