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.