Monday, December 15, 2014

Sugarmill

Sugarmill

Happy Anniversary, Sugarmill

Getting There

We admit the Sugarmill was a happy accident. We were planning to visit a different restaurant but in the spirit of "seeking adventure" we failed to make sure the place was actually open. Sadly our intended target was closed for lunch but luckily, Sugarmill was open and was right next door.  Sugarmill is located at Larimer and Broadway on the outskirts of downtown Denver.  There is no large sign so you either have to know about this place or else you have to rely on your GPS to find it.  Because it is located downtown, all parking is either metered or pay lots.  They do not have their own parking lot.

The Atmosphere

Sugarmill has a bright and friendly feeling to it. The kitchen is open and the "bar" means a front row seat to the magic being stirred up by Noah and Kelly. The space is small but well laid out. Our one distraction was the music. Don't get a us wrong, they had some truly righteous tunes playing.  However, it was really loud which is great when you want to sit back with your espresso and enjoy the beats but a little tough when chatting with friends.  They offer an outside seating area but it was a little chilly to try that option out during our visit.

The Eats

Once again we had a friend accompany us to this meal so we were able to sample a range of dishes from the menu...thank goodness.  Although Sugarmill doesn't have a large menu, they have a varied one.  They change their menus seasonally so each visit can be fresh and different.



As we mentioned, it was a chilly day so we started with a spiced hot chocolate seasoned with cinnamon, a vanilla latte, and a plain old cup of coffee.  All were excellent and hit the spot on a cold December day in Denver.

The first dish we tried was biscuits and gravy.  A great mix of tradition and innovation. The biscuits had more of a northern take so rather than the soft, cakey texture of a classic southern style biscuit.  These biscuits had crunchy edges and a dense almost scone like interior. The gravy was not your typical sawmill gravy either.
It was a rich pork gravy consisting of shredded pork shoulder and chorizo.  It had a hearty, rich flavor and paired perfectly with the homemade biscuits.


We also tried the whole grain waffle with lemon curd and maple syrup.  The waffle itself was crispy, light, and absolutely heavenly.  We loved the flavor of the lemon curd.  It had a mild, creamy texture with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  Very, very tasty.

Our friend ordered the Denver omelet.  The presentation of the omelet was beautiful and the mixture of ham, and green peppers was delicious.

And now, for our favorite part - Desserts!

Holy smokes, people.  There is no shortage of sugary deliciousness at the Sugarmill. 

We started off with a sampling of one of their signature desserts, macaron's.  Not to be confused with macaroons which contain coconut, a macaron is a French meringue based dessert similar to a cookie with some sort of cream filling.  We tried the chocolate sea salt caramel, honey bourbon, sea salt caramel, pinot noir, neapolitan, and almond.  The table favorite was the almond.  The two containing the alcohol were very strong and the rest were very good as well.

The house made Tiramisu was light and flavorful.  It was accompanied by a shot of espresso served over marshmallow and vanilla ice cream.  The drink was an unexpected treat and very fun to drink.

We also had the Berry and Almond dessert.  Small, buttery shortbread cakes served with candied almonds, whipped cream, boba seeds, and homemade blueberry and raspberry sorbet.  This dish was bright, colorful, and positively delicious. By the way, the boba seeds were  little delightful surprises on the plate. For those of you that haven't tried them before they pop in your mouth like pomegranate arils.
Now, let's talk about the Noahsphere. Luckily, the owner agreed to make us his house specialty.  A special treat since it is usually reserved for the dinner crowd.  First he melts chocolate into two hollow halves which he then seals together to form an empty spherical chocolate shell leaving a hole at the top large enough to stuff with marshmallows, chocolate cake pieces, pecans, and some caramel sauce.  He then puts the sphere on a plate of homemade whipped cream and drizzles warm caramel over the top.  It is pure heaven.  So delicious.
video

The People 

The staff was superb.  The restaurant does not have a large staff but they work together like a well oiled machine.  Our waiter, Eric was just amazing.  He catered to our every need and answered our many questions without complaint.  We also found out he is a rising star who is just starting his musical career.  We wish him all the luck in the world and urge everybody to request him when visiting the Sugarmill.  We were also lucky enough to meet Noah - one half of the team that owns the Sugarmill.  He was very gracious and quickly won us over by making us his Noahsphere dessert.  Thank you Noah and Eric for making our first visit to The Sugarmill a memorable one!

Summing Up

The Sugarmill opened it's doors on 12/4/14 and their first year has been very successful.  In addition to the restaurant and bar, they offer catering and make some very decorative and impressive cakes as well.  They offer a seasonal menu which allows each visit to be different and are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Also, everything on the menu is made in house from scratch.  It is a cozy little restaurant that is as tasty as it is quaint.  We were so happy Noah was there to accept the coveted Golden Spoon.  The Sugarmill is a must for anybody that enjoys good food and sweet treats.


Our January lunch pick will be Le Central.



Sugarmill on Urbanspoon
The Officially Unofficial Voting Legend
Take it with a grain of salt, we're not professionals.
Awesome place, we’ll shovel more food in our face!
It was okay. Not our favorite, but we’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cafe Terracotta

Homemade Goodness

Getting There


Café Terracotta is located in an area of Old Towne Littleton that is swimming with "mom and pop" type restaurants and store fronts.  It is a renovated, Victorian era home located just off Main Street. While the Café was relatively easy to find, parking proved to be a little challenging. They do have a small parking lot in the back and street parking is available at no charge if you can find it.

The Atmosphere


The restaurant is cozy, warm, and inviting.  The walls are a beautiful exposed brick which is an excellent backdrop for the artwork on display (all of which is for sale if you see a painting that strikes your fancy).  As stated previously, it is a renovated house so the seating area is on the smaller side which means there is a good chance of a wait to get a table during busy times.  If there is a line, they have a small lobby area and outside there is a beautiful wrap around porch as well with tables and chairs to use.  For cooler days, complimentary blankets are offered to keep patrons warm as they wait.  In the Spring and Summer, beautiful gardens adorn the courtyard outside and they also have a patio if you prefer outdoor seating. They offer bar seating which faces the open kitchen for those people that want to watch the action as their meal is being prepared.  It is an open setting so it can get a little loud when the restaurant is full.  Overall, Café Terracotta is a very welcoming space.

The Eats


Some dear friends of ours came with us on this excursion which is always a plus.  This way, we are able to sample more of the menu and get a better idea of what the restaurant has to offer.  The thing that caught our attention regarding the menu was that it contains breakfast and lunch well into the afternoon.

A friend ordered the country breakfast which consisted of 2 made from scratch biscuits with pork gravy, eggs, and bacon.  We found it interesting that the gravy was a pork gravy and not the usual country, sausage gravy that is found in most breakfast restaurants.  It was very flavorful and was a welcome change that gave the same old biscuits and gravy dish a little kick.

Another item ordered from the breakfast menu was the Monte Cristo Sandwich.  This sandwich is made up of turkey, ham, raspberry preserves, and Challah French toast bread.  For those of you not familiar with a traditional Monte Cristo, this sandwich is typically battered and deep fried.  This particular Monte Cristo was grilled, so it wasn't quite as heavy as most Monte Cristos.  Aside from possibly needing more raspberry preserves, it was quite tasty.  It came with a side of hash browns which were also served with a twist.  Not grated like typical hash browns, they were served in very, very thin strips and then griddle fried.  On first glance, they resembled a small pile of onions but the strips had a nice flavor and crisp texture.  Unfortunately, they came out cold so that was a bit of a disappointment.

Two sandwiches were ordered from the lunch menu. The first being the French Dip with Cheese.  This was interesting because instead of the typical roast beef found on this type of sandwich, they used a smoked roast beef and white cheddar cheese.  Although it was good, the smoked meat paired with the white cheddar cheese was a strange pairing and wasn't a table favorite.  The au jus was amazing.  It was obvious it was the actual drippings from the meat and not a powdered, reconstituted mix that you find with most French dips at other restaurants.  This sandwich was served with homemade potato chips.  They are made in house and are simply delicious, crisp, and fresh.

The second sandwich was their house specialty, the Pikes Peak Burger.  A hamburger with blue cheese, bacon, and fried onion straws.  The burger was cooked perfectly - juicy and tasty.  The blue cheese was flavorful without being overwhelming and the bun was grilled making it crispy and chewy at the same time.  It was served with house made French fries that were crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

We also ordered two additional sides from the menu.  Their homemade coleslaw was excellent.  It was crisp, fresh, creamy, and had a hint of cucumber and caraway.  The other side we tried was the potato salad.  Again, creamy and flavorful with bacon.  And as we all know, Bacon can heal the world.

And now for...Desserts!

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee - Creamy custard, not gritty, flavorful, with a crispy sweet shell.  Delightful!

Bourbon Pecan Tart - Homemade crust, flavorful, and nutty.

By far the crowned jewel of the dessert menu was Café Terracotta's Nanimo Bars.  This is a Canadian dish consisting of dark chocolate, walnuts, coconut, and a graham cracker crust. It is layered and then cut into slices.  They were a cross between a layer bar and candy.  It was very rich but had a cookie crunch to it.  Definitely the favorite dish of the day.  It is worth a trip just for this dessert.


The People


Our server Andrea was lovely.  She was quite helpful with suggestions and descriptions and did very well handling our many questions. Although Andrea was amazing, we found the rest of the staff to be slightly disconnected.  This was maybe our only "lack luster" moment at Cafe Terracotta.  If you visit Café Terracotta, please request Andrea.  She is a true delight.

Summing Up


Café Terracotta made for a tasty outing.  We would certainly consider it a good option while shopping on Main Street. They offer a fairly varied menu with good sized portions and fresh made food.  We award this restaurant a fork.  We would suggest visiting in the Spring or Summer to take advantage of the beautiful gardens and neighborhood. 

Thank you Andrea and staff for a really good meal.

Our December lunch pick will be Amerigo Delicatus

 
Cafe Terracotta on Urbanspoon

The Officially Unofficial Voting Legend
Take it with a grain of salt, we're not professionals.
Awesome place, we’ll shovel more food in our face!
It was okay. Not our favorite, but we’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Golden Europe Restaurant

We've struck GOLD at Golden Europe!


Serving the Denver Metro area for more than 20 years, it is no surprise this establishment has been in business for so long.  Nestled along busy Wadsworth Parkway, you have probably passed this restaurant on your way to some random pizza place or typical chain restaurant.  We encourage you to stop in and discover this amazing Colorado find.

We think it is important to explain that neither of us are die hard fans of this type of food. We had been scarred by horrible canned and over cooked krauts and vinegary meats so when we drew Golden Europe from the bucket we experienced a strange mix of excitement and fear similar to the feeling you get after receiving a dare from a friend. We are not Czech, German, or Polish food savvy; therefore, discovering Golden Europe was truly an unexpected delight.

Getting There

The Golden Europe Restaurant is located between 66th and 68th Streets on Wadsworth Parkway in Arvada and shares a large parking area with a few office buildings. Parking was easy and of course free.

The Atmosphere

This restaurant has a very clean, everyday festive European ambiance.  It is welcoming and warm and has almost a cabin type feel.  There are beautiful beer steins decorating the shelves and culturally authentic music plays in the background at a level that does not overpower your conversations at the table.  In warmer weather, The Golden Europe Restaurant has a patio which would be a great spot to enjoy a meal and an ice cold German beer.


The Eats

Thankfully a good friend of ours joined us for dinner. It is always nice when we can get multiple people on these outings to add more variety to our dining experience. We ordered something from each of the "regions".

Fresh baked rye bread is served with the meal.  It was so fresh and so flavorful that we went through two and a half baskets during the course of our meal.  We also started with German Potato Pancakes served with a side of sour cream and applesauce.  The greatest test with food is if it is tasty enough to stand on its own without the aid of sauces or extra added seasoning.  These potato pancakes passed the test with flying colors.  They were crispy, served at a good temperature, had a great texture, and were flavorful.  They were wonderful by themselves but even better with the applesauce and sour cream.

Each meal is served with a choice of soup or salad.  The soups offered that night were Chicken and Rice and Liver Dumpling Soup.  We had to be brave and ordered some of both.  The Chicken and Rice Soup was excellent with large pieces of chicken and rice.  A great choice for a snowy night.  The Liver Dumpling soup consisted of a beef broth with a single dumpling containing chicken liver.  It was not bad at all.  It tasted like a meatball although one of us could taste the liver and couldn't get past it. 

Now for the main courses!

Our friend chose the Roast Duck for his dinner.  Now, none of us are fans of duck because we find it overly fatty and a little bit oily; however, this was perfectly prepared.  The skin was crisp and the meat was still moist and juicy.  It just fell off the bone and was just fantastic.

The Polish Kielbasa was juicy due to the fact that they cross hatch the meat to release some of the fat.  It was flavorful without being to intricate and complex.  It was a simple Kielbasa without any fanfare and stood on it's own.  Definitely a favorite at the table.

We also ordered the special of the night which was the Beef Stroganoff.  It was truly amazing.  Hearty, flavorful, rich, and tender to the point of being able to cut with a fork.  It was like a pot roast with a creamy, rich gravy.  We actually found ourselves fighting over the final few bites like cavemen. 

The final dinner item we ordered was a Jager Schnitzel (Pork cutlet served with gravy and onions) it was crispy without being soggy, the onions were slightly caramelized which was a good contrast to the richness of the sauce.  Also, you could taste the flavor of the pork even with all the gravy and onions.  Very, very good.

We strategically ordered almost every side dish on the menu. The Czech Potato Dumplings were a little plain but paired with the gravy of either the Stroganoff or the Schnitzel it really came alive. The Cucumber Salad was fresh and crisp and not overly sweet with a wonderful hint of dill.  The Red Cabbage was a sweet, beet infused cabbage that was crispy and flavorful. The German Potato Salad is traditionally served warm and was sweet and vinegary. It was served as chunks and not slices which was different than other German Potato Salad's we have eaten in the past.  Spaetzle was served with the Stroganoff and had a soft, delicate texture which mixed perfectly with the gravy. Now, let's talk about sauerkraut, people.  Sauerkraut.  Nobody who went to this dinner is a fan of sauerkraut but since it was a European restaurant, we had to try it.   To our surprise, it was really, really tasty.  The reason it was so good was because it was homemade.  It had a perfect balance of vinegar, caraway seeds, and cabbage.

Desserts!

We ordered one of everything as it is our way.
Cream Puffs = Amazing!  Homemade whipped cream inside a flaky, delicate, light pastry that is made in house.  Excellent and tasty without being a huge hunk of dough.

Apple Streusel also made in house.  Once again, we are not "apple people" BUT this was very tasty.  Cinnamon and spices mixed with ice cream and whipped cream all contained within a delicious pastry.

The Tiramisu was the only item on the menu not made in house; however, it is made at a local Colorado bakery.  This was great as well.

The People


A wonderful young lady named Bella was our server and was very attentive and knowledgeable. Please be sure to request her when you visit.  The owner/manager, Joe stopped by our table and had a nice chat with us.  We love visits from managers.  It is always a nice touch.  He told us the history of the restaurant and let us know that his wife does much of the cooking for the restaurant.  In fact, many of his family members work there as well.  Everybody was so friendly and happy even though it was snowy and freezing outside.  We felt very welcome.

Thank you Joe and staff for the warm reception and wonderful meal.



Summing Up


Absolutely and without question, we award The Golden Europe Restaurant the coveted golden spoon.  This is a restaurant you MUST try.  So many people overlook cuisine from this part of the world.  The Golden Europe Restaurant needs exposure and a new generation of fans.  It is simply incredible.  Grab some friends and try it.  You will NOT be disappointed!

December's dinner pick is The Plimoth







Golden Europe on Urbanspoon
The Officially Unofficial Voting Legend
Take it with a grain of salt, we're not professionals.
Awesome place, we’ll shovel more food in our face!
It was okay. Not our favorite, but we’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Name

We heard you! In talking with friends and family over the past couple months we decided a rethinking of our name was needed. So we did that! Check the right side of the page for our old posts.

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