Thursday, April 14, 2016


The name is Lola,

It is a restaurant,

With lots of tasty fare,

And a whole fish over there...

Baja Style Whole Fish
We shall stand on the tallest mountain singing the praises of Denver Restaurant Week until the day we die...or until they stop having Denver Restaurant Week.  You know, whichever comes first. 

As we walked into Lola Mexican Fish House,  we were really nervous.  You see, we here at MenuManiacs Headquarters are not what the kids call, "fish-type people".  In fact, before we started this blog, we mostly frequented steakhouses and burger joints. That being said, after a brief retrospective we realized the one reason we started this blog was to try new places and different types of food.  Good plan, us.  If we let the name of the restaurant and the type of food they serve scare us away, we would have missed one of the most interesting, unique, and delicious restaurants we have reviewed to date. 

Lola's is located in the Highland area of downtown Denver on the corner of 16th and Boulder Street.  In fact, it is located not too far from another restaurant we reviewed last year, Forest Room Five.  The space is on the smaller scale so we do recommend reservations.  We were lucky enough to be seated in front of the open kitchen and were continuously entertained while watching the chefs prepare a myriad of dishes.  There is a full bar with ample seating and a cold bar that serves all types of seafood.  They do have a downstairs area used for both overflow as well as private parties.  Dinner starts nightly at 5pm, brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm, and Happy Hour all night Monday through Friday from 4pm-6pm, Saturday and Sunday 2:30pm-5pm.  They have a slew of special events including weekly specials and live music so check their website for a full listing.

Guacamole Master!
The night we visited Lola, we met our favorite server thus far.  When you visit, we demand you ask for Jacquie.  Half the reason we enjoyed our visit was because of this well informed, vibrant, funny, and exquisite server.  She knew the menu inside and out, entertained us with stories about the restaurant and it's history, and was kind enough to set us up with guacamole maker extraordinaire, Rolando.  Or is it Orlando?  Due to the music in the background, we are still debating what the kind gentleman's name was so we do apologize if we got this detail wrong.  If you order one thing at Lola Mexican Fish House, be sure it is the fresh guacamole.  The bussers spend one shift a week making guacamole tableside.
Fresh made guacamole and cocktails
On that shift, they must make one batch for the chef before they are allowed to make it for the patrons.  The chef will approve their skills before they proceed.  A cart is brought table-side with a wide variety of ingredients.  You are given a choice of what you want to include as well as how spicy you want it to be.  Not being huge fans of guacamole, we typically have a bite or two at the most, but we ate the entire serving.  Seriously, the whole thing.  We don't know what was in that stuff.  Maybe it was the fresh lime and paprika but it was unbelievable.  It was such a beautiful presentation and execution that we will come back just for the guacamole.  Amazing!

Because of their varied drink menu, we chose a few unique adult beverages.  The Cucumber Lemonade consisting of cucumber infused vodka and fresh lemonade was very refreshing; however, the Lola Colada was by far our favorite of the evening.  It is made with pineapple-fresno chilie infused espolon blanco, Malibu rum, and agave.  This was an interesting flavor combination that started out sweet and was followed up by a spicy kick.  They offer an extensive tequila list as well as tequila flights if that's your poison.

One of our favorite things a restaurant can offer are sharable plates.  Simply because it gives you a chance to try more of their menu.  Lola's menu is divided into three sections - Large Plates, Cold Shared Plates, and Hot Shared Plates.

From the Cold section, we ordered the Shrimp Ceviche served with tomato, avocado, onion, cilantro, and a boat load of lime.  For those that do not know, Ceviche is a process where raw seafood is cured in citrus juices.  We really enjoyed this dish.  Fresh lime juice is the key and it seemed to be the element that tied all of our food choices together.

Crispy Fried Chicken Mole
We chose two dishes from the Hot Shared Plates section.  The first being the Fundido.  This was made with queso blanco and pico de gallo, served with fry bread and a side of chorizo.  The second dish was the Crispy Fried Chicken Mole served with reposado-honey syrup and pickled jalapenos.  It is always entertaining when the dish you think will be your favorite, well, isn't.  Although we liked both our choices, the mole's subtle smokiness won by a landslide having an excellent texture and flavor.

Pan Roasted Red Grouper
Since we were at Lola Mexican FISH House, we figured we should probably order some fish of some kind.  We decided on the Pan Roasted Red Grouper from the large plates section of their menu.  This was served with salsa veracruz, escabeche, poached egg, and chile olives.  This was seasoned perfectly with a light crust and good texture.  The fish was not dry and flaked beautifully.  Grouper is a meaty fish when compared to other white fish like tilapia; however since it is a fresh water fish, it isn't oily like sea bass.  Grouper is a great choice for the fish-phobic.  Let's just call it a gateway fish.  We absolutely loved this dish which left us shocked and slightly confused.  It is so awesome to try new things! 

Moving on to dessert we choose the Cinnamon Dusted Churros and the Tres Leche Cake, a suggestion by Jacquie the uber super duper server.  We were a little nervous about the Tres Leche Cake because one of us has an issue with soggy textured foods.  However, we really enjoyed the cake.  It was moist but not soggy.  The texture of the cake was well preserved without turning to mush.

Tres Leche Cake
There is one item we did not order that we will be sure to try on our next visit, the Baja Style Whole Fish.  This is one of their signature dishes and is a very interesting presentation.  It is a crispy fried gulf snapper served with carrot mojo, tomatillo tartar sauce, and fried yams.  They serve it with tortillas and from there you basically build your own fish tacos.  It is truly something to behold.

The amazing Jacquie!
To sum up, Lola Mexican Fish House was a home run.  The atmosphere, the food, the staff, and the location were simply perfection.  We urge you to give Lola a try.  Of course we awarded Miss Jacquie, the staff, the chefs, and the owner the coveted golden spoon.

It is so exciting to find a place like Lola.  Especially when it's an establishment that we would never have visited if it wasn't for Denver Restaurant Week.  Fellow MenuManiacs, remember to step outside your comfort zone every once in a while to try something new.  Invite your friends and make it an adventure.  After all, that is what life is all about.

Thank you Lola for reminding us why we do this blog.  We'll see you soon for a double batch of guacamole and a whole fish.  Jacquie, save our table by the kitchen.  We can't wait for round two!
Lola Mexican Fish House 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 okay. Not our favorite, but we’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Fort

One Fort Night....

Big B's Spiced Apple Cider
The Fort first opened it's doors in February of 1963.  Built by William Lupkins, the well known adobe architect from Sante Fe, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 4, 2006, and is a replica of historic Bent's Fort.  In 1833, William and Charles Bent built the fort to trade with the Arapaho Plains Indians, Cheyenne Indians, as well as fur trappers for buffalo hides.  It was destroyed in 1849 under mysterious circumstances, although most people believe William Bent burned it down after abandoning the fort due to a cholera epidemic that struck the Oklahoma and other plains Indians.  Others believe it was destroyed to prevent the Government from taking their property.

The Fort is located in beautiful Morrison, Colorado and is not far from the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.  One of the unique offerings The Fort offers is a limousine service through Denver Limo, Inc that offers transportation from as few 2 - 32 passengers.  If you use this service, be sure to mention The Fort to receive a FREE bottle of champagne! 

There are so many fun stories about The Fort and it's history.  One example is Sissy Bear.  The owners adopted a two month old Canadian black bear cub and kept her at the restaurant.  They taught her many tricks including drinking root beer from a bottle and kissing the guests.  Photographs of Sissy adorn the walls of the restaurant, and you can read all about Sissy on The Fort's website.

Buffalo Tenderloin Filet
Presidents, Mayors, Governors, sports legends, and actors have visited The Fort on many occasions.  While dining at The Fort, you may spot a plaque on the back of whichever chair was used  by a President at some point in their history.   If a celebrity visits, that person will sign the bottom of the chair.  Be sure to take a second to see if you are sitting on one of these "special" chairs on your visit.  When asked which celebrity visited the restaurant last, we were told it was Dog The Bounty Hunter.  When asked what he was like, we were told, "Orange."  Well played, people.  Well played.

There are several special meals and events that are offered at The Fort.  For example, Buffalo Prime Rib Weekends, Spring Specials, Mothers Day specials, Easter specials, and the Historic Tesoro Lecture Series focusing on the 19th century and early west.  Check The Fort's website to see a full list of events.

Prickly Pear Cooler
The Fort tries to serve the type of food that people ate along the Santa Fe Trail.  They serve a lot of game including buffalo, elk, and quail.  According to their website, they serve over 80,000 entrees of buffalo a year.  In the tradition of the Native Americans, they serve all parts of the buffalo including Rocky Mountain oysters, buffalo tongue, and the bone marrow which is known as "Prairie Butter". 

From the beverage selection, we tried the Prickly Pear Cooler, Colorado's first non-alcoholic drink served at the South Platte River fur trade ports.  Also, we ordered Big B's Spiced Apple Cider served hot with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.  It was a great choice on a cold Colorado evening.
For appetizers we chose the Hot Sausage Bean Dip made with a delicious stout dark beer and Sam's Famous Guacamole which was listed as "Denver's Best Guacamole" on their menu.  Both were wonderful and we really liked the idea that you could either get a full order or a half order.  We haven't seen that option that often and we think it is a great idea that allows guests to try more of the menu.

Buffalo Sirloin and Quail
We each ordered our main entrees off the Restaurant Week Menu.  Not only does this highlight their most popular dishes but it also saved us quite a bit of money.  We cannot stress how awesome Denver Restaurant Week is.  One of these entrees, if ordered off the original menu, would be about $50.  However, since it was listed on the restaurant week menu, it cost us just $30. That is a pretty substantial savings.  The first dish was a 6oz. Buffalo tenderloin filet served with a dinner salad and glazed carrots.  Also, we ordered a 5oz. Buffalo sirloin with a Teriyaki marinated Quail also served with a dinner salad and  glazed carrots.  Quail is not a common item found at many restaurants, so we were excited about trying it.  It was tender and flavorful and is a must have when you visit.

Mac N' Cheese Pudding
In addition, we also ordered an extra side of President Jefferson's favorite Mac N' Cheese Pudding.  He served this dish at the White House in the early 1800's.  Hail to the Chief's....side dish!.

Dessert consisted of The Fort's famous Negrita - a whipped dark chocolate mixed with Myer's rum and served in a chocolate tulip cup.  This was also listed on the Restaurant Week Menu.  In addition, we ordered the Chocolate Chilie Bourbon Cake - an Aztec combination of dark chocolate, walnuts, and New Mexico red chilies.  It was drizzled with bourbon and topped with a homemade hot fudge sauce.

Our server, Stevie, was a lot of fun.  She was knowledgeable of the restaurant and the history behind it.   For a great meal and a wonderful evening, we gave The Fort a fork.  Thank you for a wonderful night.

The Fort 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 okay. Not our favorite, but we’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.