On Shanahan’s

Denver Restaurant Week has come and gone once again, and B and I were able to sneak in on the tail end of it, trying out Shanahan’s. Shanahan’s is a place we’ve been meaning to go to for DRW for ages, but it’s never worked out. Thankfully, it finally did (and also became March date night; we went this past Sunday).

On the surface, Shanahan’s is essentially your basic, super expensive steakhouse. Same general food, same exorbitant prices, etc. However, the experience is different in a few ways:
– natural light. A lot of steakhouses are dark holes with very few windows. Shanahan’s, in contrast, has a complete wall of windows which, while we had the light, made the atmosphere a lot less stuffy.
– the music. Our favorite Pandora station is called “Beach Bar Lounge Radio,” which is essentially smooth trance. We were joking that Shanahan’s was playing that station with the request for no songs with lyrics, as we heard several of the same songs at dinner that we’ve heard on Beach Bar.
– the decor. Smooth, modern, clean. Again, not stuffy like steakhouses tend to be. Essentially, Shanahan’s is a steakhouse for the modern era which is probably why it has survived (and thrived) while others have fallen by the wayside in Denver.

To make things a touch more affordable (obviously), we both ate off the restaurant week menu, only adding to it with our drinks (a glass of Pinot Noir for me and a Ketel and tonic for B).

I didn’t get a picture, but we both got the Shanahan’s Salad: iceberg, spinach, and romaine lettuces, English cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, crisp bacon, Champagne herb vinaigrette. It wasn’t bad. The croutons were a bit odd, so I didn’t eat those.

The main course options were a salmon or a filet; we both got the filet. It came with grilled asparagus and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

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(phone pic; sorry)

The filet was cooked perfectly. The sauce was okay – I didn’t really eat the bleu cheese crumbles. The grilled asparagus was delicious and while the mashed potatoes weren’t mine (that is, the best ever), they were better than those at Prime Bellagio.

Dessert was an espresso chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream, a raspberry, and raspberry sauce in an edible chocolate cup.

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It was rich, but tasty. We both thought the espresso either needed to be taken out or amped up, as it was barely noticeable. I ate most of my chocolate cup, but it ultimately proved to be too much for me.

All in all, a delicious meal and we’re glad we finally were able to make it to Shanahan’s. The big question obviously becomes, will we go again? The answer: possibly. If we feel like a super fancy schmancy dinner and don’t feel like trying a new place, we would consider going back. Especially because their patio is apparently awesome.

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On Helga’s German Restaurant

We tend to get in food ruts.

If you pay attention to my travel posts – particularly the ones on cities I’ve visited several times – you’ve probably noticed that we often migrate toward the same places. We’ve tried to get a bit better with this in Las Vegas (and are going to start this in Tucson) … but we’re super guilty of sticking with our old favorites at home in Denver.

Therefore, in order to MAKE US PICK SOME NEW PLACES DANGIT, I actually started a page for “new restaurants tried” in the super loose bullet journal I’ve got going this year.

First new place tried? Helga’s German Restaurant and Deli, in Aurora.

It was a touch obnoxious to get to (sometimes, Google Maps, I swear …), but it’s basically off Exposition sorta behind the train station near Aurora Mall. We went on January 31st at around 6:45 pm. They had some soft pretzels and a beer cheese sauce that looked outstanding, but we decided if we wanted anything extra, we’d rather have dessert rather than an appetizer.

Ambiance was what you’d probably typically think of a German restaurant (that is, Bavarian-style). B I believe had a Paulaner Wheat, which he liked. I abstained since I’m not the biggest fan of German beers.

We both had schnitzels for dinner – his was the traditional, with green beans and fried spaetzle on the side. I had the rahm schnitzel – “Your choice of Pork, Chicken, or Veal: breaded or floured, then fried and topped with our chef’s made-to-order sauce using rich cream, mushrooms, and our brown sauce to create a creamy mushroom delicacy” – with more traditional spaetzle on the side as well as the kroketten (fried potato dumplings … which I was hoping would be the smaller potato balls I fell in love with over there ages ago … but alas, no.).

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Tasty.

Our dinner took a bit longer to come out – even compared to a table that got seated after us – but I think it was probably due to the above-mentioned made-to-order sauce. We’re really pretty patient, but it’s hard seeing people in a larger party than yours who got seated after you get their food first.

(I should mention that we also apparently got soup with our meals and we chose the potato. It had a weird spice in it that was a tad too much, but other than that, we enjoyed it.)

We did decide to do a dessert and split the apple strudel (which we got a la mode):

helgas_apple_strudel

My only complaint with it was that I wish it had been a bit warmer.

Overall, it was a good meal. Would we go back? Probably, but given how heavy it was, not for a good few months.

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.

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.

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.

steubens

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.

booze_water

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.

steubens_lobster_roll

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?

steubens_deviled_eggs

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.

steubens_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 …

casabonita
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.

bruxie

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.

bruxie

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?