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).

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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).

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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).

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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.

On the Elm

Every February comes a wonderful little sporting holiday for Boston-area college hockey fans – the Beanpot. On the first two Mondays in February, four schools (Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University) play each other at the Garden for a literal silver beanpot trophy and bragging rights around the city*. Having gone to one of the schools, I like to try to watch the games.

Living in Denver and not having NESN on my TV package can make it a bit tricky. The alumni association has organized watch parties in the past, but hasn’t for the past few years. The last one they organized, however, was at The Elm.

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Menu.

The Elm, on East Colfax, is a Boston bar and a really fun little joint. Since we’re always there on Mondays, B usually partakes in their burger deal which is a $7 burger and fries/side.

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I’ve stolen bites. It really is a pretty tasty burger.

Yesterday, I actually decided to try their clam chowder.

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They call it a traditional New England clam chowder. It’s … okay. It’s so hard to find good chowder not on the coasts of this country. Brandon thought the base was a little too thin and I found it a bit too peppery for my tastes.

What I usually get, though, is their lobster roll (because of course).

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They diced the celery a little finer on my second go around this February which made it a lot better, but this is definitely one of the better lobster rolls around. Chock full of large pieces of lobster on the proper bun (which, as I’ve said before, makes SUCH a difference), I would definitely recommend it.

Our friend Jeremy joined us and got the fried clams both nights. I didn’t snag a picture, but he says they’re as good as any he had when living back East (I tried them; they were good, but I have no reference point). We got chatting with the Elm’s general manager after the game and she said to try their roast beef sandwich, as it’s apparently really close to Massachusetts legend Kelly’s Roast Beef, which I’ve never been able to try.

If you’re a Boston ex-pat (ex-Pat? Ha …) living in Denver or just love a good lobster roll, check out the Elm.

*The women’s team of each school also participates in a women’s Beanpot, typically held on the first two Tuesdays of February, with the exception being this year due to Valentine’s Day.

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.

On Bruxie

Last week (to the date; we went on January 18th), we were meeting a friend/work colleague of Brandon’s for a late lunch. We needed to find something on Colorado Boulevard and we were hoping to try something new, so we decided to try Bruxie.

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Bruxie is a waffle cafe based out of California, making sandwiches with waffles instead of bread. We like waffles and we like sandwiches, so we figured hey, why not?

Brandon had their standard chicken and waffles (because hey, why not?) and I had their roasted turkey club – roasted turkey, applewood bacon, gruyere, avocado, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and pesto aioli.

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With it came fries and I chose to forgo my typical water for their old-fashioned, artisan-crafted cane sugar sodas (root beer). Brandon tried the orange and it was ORANGE. Almost too orange-y for me, and I like orange soda. The root beer was good – nice and smooth.

The sandwich itself was pretty good. I enjoyed it.

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(sandwich close-up).

The fries were okay; I actually prefer Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries (sorry, Bruxie!).

The big question: would I go there again? Probably. It was a decent, affordable lunch option (and we haaaaaate figuring out lunch). *Could* I go there again is the real question – Yelp and comments on Bruxie’s Facebook page are saying that the Colorado location might be closed.

If it’s not … try it out. If it is … check it out next time you’re in SoCal?

Pro Bull Riding 2015

Since we so thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at PBR at the Stock Show last year, we decided to go again this year. I also learned the lessons of last year and bought better seats.

Continuing on with the “learning from history” theme, we also chose NOT to eat at the Stock Show itself, choosing instead to go to the Stockyard Saloon, which is basically on the grounds, but outside the paid admission area. The place is fairly old school – our beers were in cans! – but it wasn’t bad. We both had salads, I had a bacon cheeseburger and Brandon had a steak sandwich. The only thing that truly disappointed both of us was that the cheese on the cheese fries? Melted cheddar grossness. Like cheddar sauce, not actual shredded and THEN melted cheese. Some people like that … not me. I like my cheese not in liquid form.

After dinner, we headed into the Stock Show itself for a few moments. We were considering going to a PBR 101 thing, but ended up not quite having enough time. As a lot of the stuff is the same year after year (and Brandon’s foot was killing him), we mostly just hung out near the horses and talked to them before heading over to the Denver Coliseum

The bull riding itself (as well as team penning – got to see that again this year!) was awesome and the new seats weren’t bad. I think if we want truly good seats, we’ve got to hop on them as soon as they go on sale …

(Also: I need a better camera or figure out a better way with my point-and-shoot to get action shots …)

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Yes, the bull is bucking even though it doesn’t look like it here.

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Team penning.

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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.