Saturday, December 10, 2016

Colt And Gray

The Meats Are The Cure For The Common Vegan.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

photo courtesy of Miss Rio Photography
Numerous times, we have passed Colt and Gray on our way to other restaurants.  Every time we drive by them, we made a wish to the food gods that we would choose them for the next month's restaurant.

Well, wishes do come true, kids.  That's right!  We selected Colt and Gray!

Named after the owner's two sons, Colt And Gray is known for both their charcuterie and meats.  This is for good reason.  In the basement, they have their own butchery and because of this, the meat is fresh and flavorful.  They call it Viande and the very kind manager, Ben, was gracious enough to give us a tour.

photo courtesy of Miss Rio Photography
The menu is split into several sections:  snacks, smaller plates, entrees from the butcher, and sides. 

One of the most unusual snacks was a cashew, bacon, caramel corn.  Smoky and sweet, it was delicious.  In addition, we tried Lamb Tartare and Sweetbread which was also made from lamb.  Typically Sweetbread comes from cows so it was an unusual choice for a Sweetbread.  For those of you that do not know what Sweetbread is, buckle yourselves in.  It is brains.  Yes, brains  I guess that makes us zombies?  Or should we just go with the saying, "You are what you eat"?

photo courtesy of Miss Rio Photography
Well, I think I'll go with the second one.

(OK, so sweetbread is actually a culinary name for the thymus or the pancreas but it's something of a food urban legend and people think they are actually brains so we'll just go with it.) 

We had a smattering of all things meat.  Ah, heaven.  (So sorry to our Vegan Maniacs out there.  We still love you.)  Carnivores rejoice!  You have a home at Colt and Gray.

photo courtesy of Miss Rio Photography
Our rather large group enjoyed Mussels, Clams and Octopus, Moroccan Lamb, Roasted Chicken, Duroc Pork, Hudson Valley Duck Breast, and the Dry Aged Prime New York Strip.

Some of the noteworthy sides were the crispy rosemary potatoes served in a little cast iron crock.  Crispy and delicious!  Yummy!

photo courtesy of Miss Rio Photography
There is another bar area downstairs called Ste. Ellie.  The owner of Colt and Gray also had a daughter that needed something named after her as well, I mean, it's only fair.  Therefore, Ste. Ellie was born.  We will be visiting them sometime in the future.

Now, let's talk desserts, people.

We tried a variety of desserts that included Apple Crumble, Pot of Cheesecake, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Ellie Torte Chocolate Cake, and various homemade ice creams were among the fare of the evening.

photo courtesy of Miss Rio Photography
The ambiance was wonderful.  An excellent spot for date nights, the restaurant is full of low lighting, fireplaces and candles, a spacious bar area, and a cozy, subdued atmosphere.

The uniqueness of the menu and quality of the food warranted the awarding of the coveted Golden Spoon.

Colt & Gray Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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 good. We’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Where Science Is Delicious!!!

Variety Plate
We were first introduced to The Chocolate Lab at Choctoberfest in 2015.  We purchased and sampled several of their delicious truffles and enjoyed them immensely. 

This year we were lucky enough to see them again at the aforementioned Choctoberfest and were invited to visit their new storefront on East Colfax to experience a tasting with the owner and "Chief Mad Scientist" Phil Simonson.

Triple Truffle Pie
They day we took part in the most glorious of all science experiments known to humankind.  Yes, we are talking about CHOCOLATE.  Besides an amazing assortment of truffles that included such flavors as salted chocolate caramel, salt and pepper, and brown butter and sage, we were able to taste the Triple Truffle Pie with Whipped Mascarpone and Raspberries, Toasted Coconut Clusters, Glazed Pecans with Dark Chocolate, and Cashew Toffee as well.

Creme Brulee
We wanted to know how Phil, a gentlemen who was never all that fond of chocolate in the first place, learned to love it so much that he has created an incredibly successful Colorado business. 
And that leads us to ....

Six Questions From The Maniacs...

1.  What inspired you to start this business? 

I have always yearned to work for myself.  It just took me several years to find a niche concept.  This business was inspired by my friends and family.  Seeing the reactions to the chocolates, and them constantly asking for more caused me to go into business.  

2. What keeps you motivated?

The enjoyment my customers have on their faces when they consume my products.  Without them, I would not have a business.  

3.  What are your plans for the future?

Glazed Pecans with Dark Chocolate
This is an awesome question.  Eventually I would like to see my business grow into several locations where we serve food as well as provide our chocolates and other treats.  

4.  Why Chocolate?  

Love.  My husband is the creator of the truffle recipe and gave me a box of truffles for our first valentines day.  As our relationship grew, he taught me the recipe and we slowly started the business.  Now, almost 7 years later, it's the love of making my customers, staff, friends and family excited about the crazy creations I get to do.  

5.  What is your favorite product and why?

This is a hard question for me.  I have so many products that I enjoy, even for someone who doesn't really like chocolate.  For truffles, I can't tell you my favorite because they change.  The more creative I get with things, such as the hatch chile, roasted street corn and cotija cheese, the more I want to eat chocolate.  

6.  What is the one thing you want people to know about your business?

Chocolate Carmel Filled Raspberries
Just one?  hmmm....  hand-crafted, creative flavors, no artificial ingredients or preservatives.  
The Chocolate Lab's products are a testament to how hard Phil works to create his amazing chocolates.  The store is directly across from City Park at 2504 E. Colfax Avenue and is open from 11am to 9pm Tuesday through Saturday, Sunday 11am to 7pm, and Monday 12:00pm to 5pm.   They will cater events both large and small and you can even ask for a truffle flavor to be created for you if you are feeling saucy.  Truffles and all other products can be purchased online and shipped cold anywhere you would like them to go.  Be sure to visit their website and like their Facebook page to keep up with the latest news and get details about their upcoming events.

Thank you so much to Phil for his hospitality and time.  We enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to seeing you soon.  Keep up the good work.  It's businesses like yours that make Colorado proud!

Photos courtesy of Miss Rio Photography

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Satchi Fudge

"Oooh fuuudge!"

 - Ralphie Parker, A Christmas Story

MenuManiacs was first introduced to Satchi Fudge at the very first Choctoberfest back in 2013.  It truly was love at first taste.  Aricia and her son, Scott are some of our favorite people at this event and their enthusiasm for what they do only adds to our love of everything Satchi.

The one thing that makes Satchi Fudge so different is the texture and quality of their product.  All of us are used to traditional holiday fudge.  They kind that is basically a dry, overly sweet, hunk of chocolate that is good in theory but after a bite or two, leaves a bad taste in your mouth and often a bad feeling in your tummy.  That is 100%, definitely NOT the case with Satchi.

Image courtesy of Satchi Fudge
Satchi sells fudge in a jar which is exceptional.  The fudge itself is creamy and smooth and is fabulous on everything from toast to fruit or as a stand alone treat.  They do sell fudge bars as well which are as moist and delicious as the jar form.

Because they are such a wonderful Colorado company, we asked Aricia to answer some questions about her business and products. 

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Maniacs of all ages, we would like to introduce something new to you all.
It's a little something we like to call...

Six Questions From The Maniacs

1.  What inspired you to start this business?

Scott was 15 and considering what he wanted to study in college. Business interested him, but he wanted to try it out before committing to a major. Our family tradition is to bring fudge to friends and neighbors and people are always asking where they can buy it. So we created a business plan, studied other businesses for "best practices" and spoke with mentors. And we were so inspired by what people were doing! Not only were they bringing really great products to market with a lot of integrity, they were working to help other businesses succeed and doing good in the world. We created a model that combined the best qualities and values and everything grew from there. We entered the Colorado Chocolate Festival's contest about two months later and to our happy surprise, we won "Best Fudge in Colorado." Since then, we've won each time we've entered and Satchi has gone from an academic exercise to a real business.

2. What keeps you motivated?

Both Scott and I really love learning new things and running a business provides new opportunities every day. We've had the opportunity to learn from some amazing mentors, business experts and chefs. Scott's a junior in business college now and Satchi provides a canvas for him to try new ideas. And, of course, we love trying new recipes. As Scott was growing up, our favorite vacations were cooking weekends we attended with the most talented chefs. So we love our time in the kitchen. Most of all, though, the people we meet keep us motivated. People are so great and they respond so well to our product.

3.  What are your plans for the future?

We have lots of dreams! We'd like to find more businesses to grow with - whether those are shops and stores, farmer's markets and shows or individuals who make really great products. We also want to partner with more non-profits that are working to help kids. One of our guiding principles is to build good will, so we like helping people who are doing great things in the world. We've enjoyed donating to groups like Broomfield FISH, Be Mindful - a group that helps homeless kids in Denver (among other things) and Jhamtse Gatsal - a school in India that helps abandoned children. So many people are doing such outrageously incredible things and when we help, we get to be a small part of that.

4.  Why Chocolate?

Chocolate is just magical. Growing up, I always wanted to work as a candy maker so for me, it's a dream come true. Our fudge is inspired by an old family recipe. To be honest, it wasn't really Christmas until the fudge from Aunt Ruth Alice arrived and I wanted to share that joy and happiness with other people. It's near and dear to my heart so we use a blend of the very best chocolate and cocoa. We also use custom blended oils - made for us by another small family business. And when our customers ask for something, we do our best to try and create it. I love that Satchi creates customers for life. So many of our customers have become friends because we get to see them so often!

5.  What is your favorite product and why?

I love our Peanut Butter Chocolate fudge. It's just really smooth and rich and so incredibly satisfying when I want something sweet.  I'm known to snitch a bite of the Salted Caramel Chocolate when we're making that recipe too! 
My favorite one to make is our Chocolate Butterscotch Toffee because it just smells so yummy.

One of my favorite endorsements was from a personal trainer who said he loved telling people about my fudge because a small amount totally satisfies their chocolate craving.

6.  What is the one thing you want people to know about your business?

We'd love to see you at one of our shows or farmer's markets and if you can't make it, please stop by Satchi Ananda Wholesale Candy Company - Best Fudge in Colorado If people want to see what we're up to, they can "like" our Satchi Fudge site on Facebook.  That would mean a lot to us.

Coming up, we'll be at the Colorado Country Christmas, The Athena Festival and at the Alles Gute booth at Christkindl in Denver. Please stop by and say hi! We'll save a taste (or two) of fudge for you!

Satchi Fudge is simply awesome!  If you are looking to treat yourself or find a Holiday gift for those people who have everything, give Satchi a try.  You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Choctoberfest 2016

Whole Lotta Choco-Latta...


This is truly one of our favorite festivals.  Seriously, we fast for two days.  It's that awesome.  We really love it.  There's chocolate everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  Ahh, Choctoberfest.

This year, the third annual Choctoberfest was held at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds.  We really liked the new location because there was a lot more space and a lot more chocolate.

Did we mention the chocolate?

Our good friends at Satchi Fudge, Stewart's Crumpets and Confections, and Goufrais were there again this year and we were introduced to several new companies such as The Chocolate Lab and The Animas Chocolate Company.

As always, Choctoberfest was a huge hit and seemed to be a great success for the vendors.  Seeing so many Colorado companies in one building made our hearts happy.  We were just so giddy with joy, or sugar, or a little bit of both.

There are several Chocolate festivals throughout the year here in Colorado, the next being the Holiday Chocolate Festival at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs on December 2nd and 3rd.  Be sure to check their website for more details about this exciting event.

As usual, in addition to vendor booths, there were chocolate pudding eating contests, wine and chocolate pairings, beer and chocolate pairings, and cider and chocolate pairings. The latter being paired with Stewart's Highland Crème (you know we love you guys). 

Cider and Chocolate Pairing
Choctoberfest is a must for anybody with a sweet tooth.  If you are interested, be sure to like Colorado Chocolate Festival's Facebook page for the most up to date information on events and all things chocolate throughout the year.

To all our friends at Choctoberfest both new and old, it was great to see you all and we are so happy for all of you.  We wish you nothing but success and we will see you all next year!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mustard's Last Stand

Good Dog!  Such a Good Dog!

Mustard's Last Stand has been celebrating their love of Chicago style hot dogs for over 30 years.  They have two locations, one in Denver and one in Boulder.  For this outing, we visited the Denver location at 2081 S. University Boulevard.

Mustard's offers a lot more than just hot dogs.  Their menu is packed full of other items like hamburgers, sandwiches, Italian fare, vegetarian options, a gluten free menu, kids meals, and The Ditka 1/3 lb. Monster Polish.

Our favorite thing about the restaurant was that they offered three sizes of French fries:  taste, small, and large.  So many times we order a sandwich only to face a huge pile of fries.  We here at MenuManiacs have a strict, no fry left behind policy so the fact that we can choose the amount of fries we consume was a great find.

Another thing that impressed us about Mustard's was the fact that each order is cooked fresh.  A lot of hot dog eateries have the dogs pre-cooked in a tub of hot water.  They don't do that type of thing here and you can taste the difference.

Although Mustard's Last Stand celebrates all things Chicago, it is very loyal to the state of Colorado.  They use many local companies such as Steele's Meats in Lafayette, Continental Sausages in Denver, Boulder's Breadworks, and Udi's Gluten Free products.  We love that!

We ordered the Polish sausage with tomatoes and cheese as well as a Chile cheese dog.  The Polish sausage was cooked to perfection.  It was juicy on the inside, crispy and charred on the outside.  Delicious!  The Chili Cheese dog was excellent and the chili was flavorful without being overly spicy.

There is a seating area inside and a large patio outside.  They have a small parking lot and street parking is available if you can find it.  The restaurant is a diner setting so if you are looking for a delicious, quick meal, Mustard's Last Stand is a good place to go.  Also, if you can't make it to the actual restaurant, Mustard's can be ordered through GrubHub.

Sometimes, you just need a good dog.  When the mood strikes you, try Mustard's Last Stand because they are worth the trip.  For all the good food and service, we give Mustard's a fork.  Thank you to the entire staff for a fun afternoon.

Mustard's Last Stand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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 good. We’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Sew, Sartos Will Tailor Make A Meal For You...

The first thing we noticed when walking into Sartos was the very large, sewing needles that served as handles on their front door.  Because we don't research our locations before we visit them, we were just a little bit confused.

The first question we asked our server was what Sartos actually means.  We were told that it was an occupational name meaning "tailor" in Italian, from the Latin sartus "to mend".   Well, that made a lot of sense.  It explained the door handles and the schematics of sewing machines as well as the actual antique sewing machines found throughout the restaurant.  The bathrooms are lined up in a hallway and are labeled "fitting rooms" and a there is a three way mirror at the end of the hallway which was a nice touch.  Plaster casts of scissors and other items used in sewing are hung on the walls as well.  The "tailor" theme is carried through all parts of the restaurant.  You see, the owner's name is Taylor which is why this theme was chosen.  Very cute, Sartos.  We like it.

The restaurant itself is beautiful.  With tons of natural light and large windows, it is a clean and pristine white with a beautiful patio area that also serves as a mini garden.  The restaurant grows things like tomatoes and rosemary to be used in their dishes.  They offer a pantry area where customers can purchase soups and sandwiches for lunch and buy food such as pastas and sauces to go.  They also sell boquets of flowers for six dollars. 
For our Maniacs with gluten issues, never fear!  Sartos offers gluten free options on their menu.

Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday and dinner starts at 5pm.

One of the unique offerings Sartos has is a chef's counter option.  This costs $60 per person with an optional wine pairing for an additional $30.  It consists of a "tailor made" (see what we did there?) five course meal made especially for you and depending on any limitations you give them, it can be quite the experience.  We had a few food allergies to worry about and they excelled at working around those issues.

We actually arrived quite a bit early so we tried some cocktails before dinner.  We would like to compliment, Josh, our wonderful bartender who made custom drinks on the fly based on our distinct tastes.  He was a master of beverages that night creating both alcoholic and virgin cocktails that were all very delicious.  He was knowledgeable and knew exactly where each glass of wine came from.  He gave accurate and detailed descriptions of each for those people who chose to add the wine pairing.  Thank you, Josh, for helping to make the evening a great one.

As we have said before, we love writing this blog.  Without it, we would not try a lot of the food we have in the last few years.  Some food we have liked and some food we have not, but  we tried it and that is what counts.  For instance, the first course included salmon, oko tuna from Hawaii, scallops, compressed melon, catfish caviar, fresh basil, oranges, and arugula puree.  These were all served on a block of pure, pink Himalayan salt which "cooked" the fish and added a delicious saltiness that paired with the sweetness of the fruit.  This is one of those things we would not try...ever.  All in all, it wasn't that bad.

From there we were served a fresh salad of seasonal veggies and pickled plums served over a creamy, fluffy goat cheese.  All produce, aside from what they grow on their patio, is sourced from Colorado farms. The night's produce was supplied by Leffler Family Farms in Evans, Colorado.  Farm to table is truly one of our favorite things.  The difference in taste and freshness is just amazing.

One of the more unique dishes was a risotto type dish made from huitlacoche.  Pronounced whee-tla-KO-cheh, it is also known as corn mushroom, corn smut, or Mexican truffle. It is a fungus, which randomly grows on organic corn (not sprayed with any fungicide) and was topped with fresh sweet corn.  Man, we learned so much that night!  So much fun!!!

The first main course was Oko tuna with a red onion ash, and forbidden black rice (rice that was only served to Chinese emperors),  Although we are not huge fans of fish, this was quite good and the ash coating tasted a little bit like coffee.

For desert we had a fabulous tiramisu which is always a favorite.

Thank you to Reggie, our talented chef, for a wonderful meal.  You were a lot of fun and we appreciate you putting up with all our questions.

On this outing, we were lucky enough to be joined by one of our Maniacs and budding photographer, Rio Rivera.  The photos on this blog entry are just a few examples of the extent of Rio's talent.  She has taken photos of our pets as well and they are simply phenomenal.  She has a real gift.  If you are in need of a photographer, please contact Rio at

Overall, Santos was a very good restaurant.  The staff was amazing, knowledgeable, and friendly.  We were given a tour of the restaurant, we met the Manager, and the atmosphere was fun and light.  The chef's counter is definitely the way to go.  It is a wonderful way to learn all about new food and to try something unique.  For all these reasons, we give Sartos a fork.

As they say in Italy, Grazie a tutto il personale Sartos per l'ospitalità e cibo eccellente. Ci vediamo presto!

Thanks again!
Sarto's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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 good. We’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

3 Chicks Kitchen

When 1 or 2 Chicks are not enough and 4 Chicks are just plain excessive....

3 Chicks Kitchen is one of those happy accidents that we cherish here at MenuManiacs HQ.  We have driven past this little gem quite a few times in the past.  One Sunday morning while we were trying to find a place for breakfast, everywhere we stopped had up to an hour long wait for a seat.  Then we remembered the little breakfast spot next to Sonic, and we decided to give 3 Chicks Kitchen a try.

3 Chicks Kitchen is located in a little strip mall just off 128th Avenue and Zuni in Broomfield.  Parking is free, plentiful, and directly in front of the building.  3 Chicks Kitchen is appropriately named since it began it's existence with three sisters.  Over time the sisters moved on to other ventures and the final sister sold the business to a great couple, Corey and Sandy Christman.  Corey and Sandy took a hard look at the menu and realized great improvements could be made.  For example, they are switching from frozen and pre-made items to homemade, fresh cooking.  They are looking to add some spice to the menu with a variety of chiles brought directly from Mexico for fresh made salsas.  Luckily, we were able to sample some the day we visited (check out our Instagram for pics of all the goodies).

Juice, Mimosa, Bloody Mary
After meeting and talking with Sandy, we realized it was imperative for us to come back for a proper review so we could showcase the amount of passion and care they put into their food.  The following week, we returned to 3 Chicks Kitchen with empty bellies and notebooks in hand. 

Chicken and Waffles
In typical MenuManiac fashion, we asked for their suggestions.  They recommended any of the six varieties of Benny's on their menu.  These are variations of eggs benedict.  The burritos are a customer favorite and the sandwiches are amazing; however, the one item they insisted on us trying was their chicken and waffles.  Not being fans of chicken and waffles, we smiled and said "that sounds great".  You should understand that up to this point, this dish has been viewed as an unholy alliance of dinner and breakfast foods.  Well, 3 Chicks changed our mind in this regard.  The waffle was crisp and fluffy, the fresh chicken tenders were tempura fried which allowed the breading to remain light and crispy while allowing the flavor of the fresh chicken to shine through.  The whole dish was drizzled with maple syrup and smothered in sausage gravy.  It was topped off with crumbled bacon on the top.  It sounds odd, but it works.  Holy schmokes, does it ever work. Yes, after eating this amazing meal, you will be doing extra sit-ups but we promise it is worth it.  We regret nothing!

Chicken Fried Steak
Let's take a moment and talk gravy.  3 Chicks Kitchen sports two kinds of sawmill gravy (that's a pan gravy made with dairy) one with sausage and one vegetarian.  We really have nothing bad to say about either of these.  Served over biscuits in the Southern Benny or smothering the chicken and waffles, we think you'll agree that it is good stuff.

Pancakes with Candied Walnuts
Their pancakes were also a suggestion by the owners.  Specifically their candied walnuts.  They are a little sweet and a little spicy with just a hint of cayenne pepper.  We ordered a short stack and the two pancakes took up the whole plate.  Just a small amount of butter and little syrup is all you need for this delicious item.

Corey and Sandy are still in the middle of revamping the restaurant.  In addition to a whole new menu, they are planning a variety of special events including everything from beer pairing dinners to drag shows.  Because so many of these events are only found in downtown Denver, we are very excited to have them in our area without having to head downtown.  We will post these events on our Facebook page in the future.

3 Chicks will also rent their space in the evenings for private events like rehearsal dinners or company gatherings.

They are open for breakfast and lunch and are a perfect spot for delicious, homemade food with fresh ingredients brimming with creativity. For all their wonderful food and excellent service, we awarded 3 Chicks Kitchen a fork, or maybe we need to add a spork? We continue to look forward to all the changes the Christman's are making to the restaurant.  We'll see you all soon!

3 Chicks Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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 good. We’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.