Restaurant Kevin Taylor in Hotel Teatro

Just a few foodie highlights from Restaurant Kevin Taylor at the Hotel Teatro in Denver… many thanks to the Boulder Food Media Meetup group for pulling it all together!

Talk about a treat – six mini-courses paired with six gourmet cocktails at one of Denver’s finest restaurants in a luxurious, historic hotel. I swear I have no idea how to live this large, so I just play along and hope for the best…

Foie Gras Mousse at Restaurant Kevin Taylor

Foie Gras Mousse donning turnip marmalade paired with Van Gogh Apple Vodka, Disaronno, and Lucien Albright Rose – is there a yuppie in the house?

Scottish Salmon Rillettes at Restaurant Kevin Taylor

Scottish Salmon Rillettes – sweet potato cake and buckwheat granola with earl grey compote paired with Stranahan’s Whiskey, grapefruit juice, and muddled cucumber – probably my favorite course of the night that wasn’t dessert

Braised Bison Short Rib at Restaurant Kevin Taylor

Braised Bison Short Rib – cumin, olive beet relish, and prune puree paired with rye whiskey, Campari, Bitters, and root beer – no one may ever know how many of these I ate.

Delectable dessert at Restuarant Kevin Taylor

“Snickers” – peanut butter powder, burnt caramel, and nougat paired with a chocolate martini, Godiva Liqueur, Frangelico, and Baileys, which amounts to zero calories, if you’re unwise in the ways of counting calories. They also dipped the glass rim in melted chocolate and then coated it with some kind of sugary perfection prior to serving.

Click here for:




Fruition Restaurant

Briefly, but more commentary to come… Fruition is my favorite restaurant in Colorado. It scores a 99 out of 100 on each of the following points:

– food quality
– food presentation
staff attentiveness, knowledge, and enthusiasm
value for a high-end meal
– date-night atmosphere
attention to every detail contributing to a wonderful dining experience

duck with a side of duck at Fruition

Fruition in Denver is one of very few restaurants exhibiting the wherewithal to serve duck – with a side of duck

Fruition Denver duck

Fruition: where ordering the duck is always a great idea.

Fruition lemon meringue

Fruition’s Lemon Meringue Pie with Graham Cracker Crust & Fresh Blueberry Compote – the upper 90% is gluten free! Also, the meringue kinda looks like the pointy DIA “tents”.

Click here for:



How I won the lottery: Dinner for six with a prodigy chef

Cake as defined by Chef Aaron Kirschner

“Cake” as interpreted by prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner; delectable, chewy chocolate nougat crowned with cinnamon ice cream to the rest of us

In sixth grade, I won a cake.

We had a Cake Walk, which is similar to musical chairs, only when the music stops, if the number you’re standing on matches the number on one of the cakes being given away, you win a cake. Which… I suppose makes it not so similar to musical chairs. Maybe the opposite of musical chairs. Anyway, I was a winner!

Since then, I haven’t won much in terms of food, dining, cheffery, or any other culinary-related prizes – until earlier this year. A friend of mine, Kathleen, called to say she’d won a silent auction item. The auction item turned out to be a four-course meal with eight of her closest foodie pals, prepared by a 15-year-old prodigy chef. I hadn’t heard of Aaron Kirschner until then, and I was unaware of the impression his culinary expertise would leave on our palates in Boulder on a rainy evening in July. We were simply stunned by his talent.

Our evening went something like this: six of us arrived at Kathleen’s house around 6 p.m. Dinner was slated for eight people, but just six of us were able to attend. Chef Aaron and his sous chef, Oliver, proceeded to establish dominion over the kitchen and usher us into the dining room, where wine and water were waiting. The young chefs served as kitchen staff and waitstaff, announcing ingredients prior to each course, and accommodating the unique requests of individuals in the group by providing dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian dishes where appropriate.

You can read about Aaron’s junior chef competition on The Daily Camera, his work at the Black Cat on the Boulder Weekly, his Junior Iron Chef match on the Daily Camera, his experience at Chicago’s Moto restaurant on the Huffington Post, and on Aaron Kirschner’s personal blog, but the elevator pitch is: Aaron is an exceptional chef, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he’s a top-tier chef in the making. His understanding of food as art appears to be matched only by chefs who have already been at it for years. A visual sampling of Aaron’s culinary artwork is below, and it tastes as exquisite as it looks.

One challenge I’ve encountered in food blogging has been to adequately describe how good a dish, a meal, or an entire dining experience is. This is another one of those times. My best suggestion, if you want to experience Aaron’s culinary prowess for yourself, is to head to Black Cat in Boulder, where he currently works in the back of the house. Alternatively, give this a try: a six-course tasting menu prepared by Chef Aaron and his youthful team in a pop-up restaurant format in Boulder. Prepare to be impressed!

Hearts of palm confit

First course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Hearts of palm confit with squash puree, lychee kimchi, chewy lychee, pickled garlic scapes, green garlic aioli, and nasturtium flowers

Pan-roasted black bass

Second course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Pan-roasted black bass with glazed fava beans, sweet & sour onions, buttered mussels, braised artichokes, pickled grapes, purple basil, thai basil, fennel fronds, and pansies (photograph courtesy of Aaron Kirschner)

Duck breast and arugula pudding

Third course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Duck breast and arugula pudding with poached apricots, craklin, apricot puree, candied pecans, and baby arugula

Chocolate nougat with burnt cinnamon ice cream

Dessert course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Chocolate nougat with burnt cinnamon ice cream, pumpkin seed cake, candied pumpkin seeds, coffee gel, coffee crumble, cinnamon lace tuiles, chocolate mint


Cheese Importers – Artisan Cheese & Specialty Foods

the great wall of cheese, yeah

The Great Wall of “Cheese–Yeah”. Just one of many refrigerated, cheese-filled walls at Cheese Importers in Longmont

Cheese Importers' delectable olive/pepper/antipasto bar

also in Cheese Importers’ cooler is a delectable olive/pepper/antipasto bar… adding a sultry element to Longmont’s allure

Spanish cheese

I have yet to sample this particular Spanish “Capricho de Cabra”, but any cheese housed next to “Cockles from Spain” gets its own patch of real estate on the Unchained Eatery blog

spinach salad at Cheese Importers

Light spinach salad lunch at Cheese Importers’ European Cafe/Bistro was fantastic… the Cafe is conveniently attached to the cheese/specialty shop so you can refuel following what promises to be a spirited morning or afternoon of artisan cheese sampling.

Cheese Importers' Cafe counter

Cheese Importers’ Cafe counter made us feel as if we were in gay Par-ee… but alas… we were in Longmont.

French macarons

French macarons at Cheese Importers in Longmont. Dessert, anyone?

bought lots of cheese

We went a bit nuts on the cheese and chocolate purchasing… we followed it up with wine tasting at Boulder Creek Winery. I gotta say it was a good day.

Click here for:

gift baskets


Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

Fonseca 'bin 27' ruby porto, Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port, and Taylor Fladgate, 10-year tawny port... consumed right to left.

Fonseca ‘bin 27’ ruby porto, Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port, and Taylor Fladgate, 10-year tawny port… consumed right to left.

Who knew the best place to taste test port in Boulder was at a fish house? This isn’t the world’s best photo, but if you drink enough port, it won’t matter. Full review to come…

Click here for:



Kasa Japanese Grill & Bar

Snow Beauty sake at Kasa in Boulder

Pair your unfiltered sake with the best sushi in Boulder at Kasa

My best advice for your visit to Kasa in Boulder: Trust the sushi chef.

Your first step in dining at Kasa should be to return the warm greeting you received upon walking through the front doors from Mimi – the most enthusiastic and charming host in the universe. She makes you feel as though you’re a long-lost friend who just happened to wander into her home. If you’re feeling down, Mimi will brighten your day with a smile and a boatload of friendliness, so at least stop by and say hi.

Back to the sushi chef… after Mimi guides you to the best table in the house, she’ll hand you the nightly sushi features, which have been painstakingly scribed in colorful Sharpie-esque markers on a large, white dinner plate.

Kasa Sushi specials plate

Kasa Sushi specials plate

So here’s what to order: Ask the chef. Ask the chef to prepare whatever he has featured for the night, and you can’t go wrong. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know better than a sushi chef when it comes to ordering sushi. Unless you happen to also be a sushi chef, you will lose. This also means I can only suggest you consider trying whatever sashimi Kasa has on offer when you dine. If the sushi chef agrees you should try it, then go for it. Do not take my word for it. I’m not a sushi chef, nor am I a regular chef. I sometimes make a pickle/olive/cheese plate for dinner, so what the hell do I know?

Chefs, sushi and otherwise, are proud of their craft. Sushi chefs in particular, however, typically have closer interaction with customers than other chef-y types. If you’re sitting at the sushi bar, they’re typically standing right in front of you, waiting for your face to light up in moderate-to-full-blown ecstasy as you indulge in the fruits of their talent. Cooking – or not cooking, in sushi’s case – is their artwork, so feel free to take their word for it when it’s time to order.

you'll want to hug a sushi chef after trusting said chef with your order at Kasa

you’ll want to hug a sushi chef after trusting said chef with your meal at Kasa in Boulder

chef's choice of sashimi at Kasa in Boulder

Kasa’s sushi chef, per usual, delivered sashimi perfection.

marmalade cocktail

Kasa’s refreshing orange marmalade cocktail… one is all you’ll need.

Click here for:



Pizzeria Locale


Pizzeria Locale bartender

Treat yourself to the Charcuterie plate and a handsome bartender at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder.

Pizzeria Locale dough tossing

The artisans at Locale in Boulder toss the dough before your eyes at a sushi-style pizza bar.

Pizzeria Locale Mais

If Locale’s sweet corn & prosciutto pie were a presidential candidate, it would win the electoral college by a gigantic landslide.

Pizzeria Locale dough toss

The Locale flour is flyin’ everywhere – behind the protective glass, of course.

Pizzeria Locale Ripieno Calzone

The basil/ricotta/prosciutto Ripieno is Locale’s answer to calzone, and, as my mom would say: “It’s to die for.”

Pizzeria Locale Basil Margherita

Locale’s Margherita pizza is topped with Perfect and served with a side of Awesome.

When the goods are this good, it’s wise to be economical with words. I’ll just say this…

Several weeks ago while indulging at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, my friend Ryan turned to me – in mid-bite of his sweet-corn prosciutto pie – and said:

“I think they must use a secret ingredient in their crust that makes it taste better than any other pizza in the entire universe.”

There you have it.

Click here for:



Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

If you’re craving vegan or vegetarian fare, Leaf should definitely be one of your top choices for a romance-y dinner in Boulder.

portobello mushroom steak at Leaf in Boulder

Jedi Mind Trick from Leaf in Boulder: this looks like a giant steak, but it’s actually a portobello mushroom

I recommend starting with the Raw Wrap (rainbow chard, pea shoots, mixed sprouts, carrots, basil almond pâté, cashew “ricotta”) and following it up with the Vegetable Wellington (mushroom, onion, tomato, spinach & fontina in puff pastry, bordelaise, twice baked potato, sautéed greens, endive) entree. There’s a fair chance you won’t be able to finish the Wellington because it’s huge and awesome. The puff pastry and accompanying sauce are incredible.

It turns out it’s probably just as well you don’t finish the Wellington as Leaf features a prix fixe option where you choose three of one small plate, one salad, one entree, and one dessert. It’s a great deal for a boatload of high quality food.

Leaf vegan blueberry cheesecake

We inhaled the Leaf vegan blueberry cheesecake in less than 90 seconds.

As an aside, Leaf is owned by Aji Latin American Restaurant, which has one of the best happy hours deals in town on Sundays because it lasts for six hours – food and drink. Go get some.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant in Boulder

What Leaf has, Aji has, and vice versa

Click here for:



Basta – A Wood Fire Eatery + Pizzeria

asparagus soup and bacon salad

Basta lunch: chilled asparagus soup followed by a baby lettuce salad with dates, walnuts, blue cheese, and awesome, enormous chunks of bacon — plus a New Belgium Heavenly Feijoa Tripel

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta:

baked herbed ricotta

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: house cheese – baked herbed ricotta, cherry tomato and sliced sunchoke

Basta Farro Salad

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: Farro salad – pomegranate, butternut squash, kale, hazelnut, and Colorado goat cheese – paired with slightly less Hog heaven

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: 24-hour slow-cooked, red-wine chuck flap, fingerling potato + root vegetable - paired with not much Hog Heaven left at all

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: 24-hour slow-cooked, red-wine chuck flap, fingerling potato + root vegetable – paired with not much Hog Heaven left at all

Basta campfire vanilla ice cream

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: homemade Basta campfire vanilla ice cream – paired with a local Boulder porter

Basta's all wood fire oven

Basta’s all wood fire oven with a reflection of my enormous hair in the protective glass

Basta wood fire vegetable salad

Pizzeria Basta – wood fire vegetable salad – radicchio, beets, croutons, wood fire balsamic, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes

Basta House red

House red at Pizzeria Basta in front of firewood used to stoke the oven

Basta Daisy Pizza

Basta Daisy Pizza – tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, olive oil – This pie rivals Pizzeria Locale’s Margherita. Exquisite!

Basta burnt caramel ice cream with sea salt

Pizzeria Basta dessert – burnt caramel ice cream with sea salt – Try it with a Porter!

Click here for:



Salt the Bistro

Click here for:

Salt Bistro Boulder menu



Full review coming soon!

Click here for:



Flagstaff House Restaurant


G&E @ Flagstaff House in Boulder

G’s 30-something’th b-day @ Flagstaff House in Boulder.

Click here for:



Black Cat

Full review coming soon!

Click here for:



Frasca Food and Wine


Frasca cheese plate

I saved my cheese plate for dessert. It was amazing, and the folks at Frasca were good enough to roll me out on a forklift.

Click here for:

Frasca Food and Wine menu


Vesta Dipping Grill

Full review coming soon!

Vesta is certainly hip, but not so hip that you don’t feel comfortable eating there. I’m planning a warm Spring evening of dining at Vesta soon, so stay tuned!

Click here for:

Vesta Grill menu