Denver: Turning the Tide

 

We aspired for more on our third day Denver, casting a wider net past the dreary confines of LoHi and out into the greater metropolis.

Our first foray took us to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, http://www.whiskeytf.com/home which was a pleasant twenty-ish minute walk from LoHi (probably less, but there was a google maps cum football playbook zig zagging incident) which, in and of itself, was not terribly impressive, and yet, was an altogether  welcome relief from the Mikey Mouse eateries of days past.

Falling Rock Beer

WTF’s draughts were hearty, local, and varied, and the food, while being somewhat pedestrian, was at least a little ambitious and well executed. For the six of us, there was a sour, an IPA, and a pilsner for all tastes, and to go with them, fried cheese curds (heavy on the fry) with the random addition of jalapenos. I could have done without the chipotle flavored dip, which to my taste, does nothing to brighten or balance fried food, but rather, maintains the same note as the rest of the song.

Curds.JPG

 

The “Colorado Meatballs” were more nuanced, floating in a zesty tomatillo sauce flecked with salty cheese and topped with dipable strips of fried tortilla.

balls

Fort Point Brewery is close by, and it’s the kind of place that literally everyone who hears the word “Denver” recommends.

Falling Rock Taps

I’m still stumped as to why, it’s just a big craggy bar that smells like sour lines and has a pool table or two downstairs. They offer a lot of draught options, but, that’s not particularly rare in those parts.

Cart Driver was an actual destination for us, as in, we didn’t end up there as a result of compromise, but by actual desire.  http://www.cart-driver.com/ The space is charmingly odd, a small shipping container set on the perimeter of a courtyard, alongside what looked like offices, or fledgling young yoga studios and chiropractic practices. The restaurant itself is not more than a tiny hallway with maybe three tables, a counter for ordering, and a pizza oven. Out the back door, a patio, over which we took control.

Cart Driver Patio

Aside from the scorpion bowls on night one, this was the first place we’d been that offered a proper cocktail (I’m sure WTF probably did too, but, this was a marathon, not a race). The negroni did me right, giving my pallet a nice bit of pep after so many heavy beer sessions, and then, our vile food spell was mercifully broken by a luscious chicken liver mousse served with house made focaccia, sardines, blistered flatbread, pate, and giardinera

Cart Driver Spread

Sumptuous chicken liver mouse finished with giant mustard grains and marinated mushrooms, accompanied by fresh, pillowy focaccia

Cart Driver pate

And an impeccable sausage & kale pizza

cart driver pizza

Crooked Stave, a brewery that specializes in sours, was on the itinerary for our next stop, but our attempt was thwarted a few blocks out from Cart Driver, by the sight of First Draft, a two-story, open air, brewery. http://www.firstdraftdenver.com/

first draft

To taste, patrons purchase a card, then waive the card in front of whichever draught they would like to sample, pour the desired amount, and then, a display reads the number of ounces poured. In other words, the drinker is in total control.

Of course, the cost per ounce displays on the screen as you pour, but all I can say is, danger, Will Robinson. After one or two hearty pours, it all gets a little reckless and could certainly lead to financial ruin, but, it’s a really fun concept in a relaxed atmosphere, in a not LoHi neighborhood. Wins all around.

We took a siesta at Zitro’s, where the Michael J Fox retrospective remained in full swing with an airing of “Teen Wolf”

teen wolf

When that grew tiresome, the menagerie of odd signs, mismatched glass collections, string lights and football dolls provided its own visual feast

vitro signs

That night, we took a trip to the Buckhorn Exchange in search of some game meat. http://buckhorn.com/

buckhorn

The Buckhorn is Colorado’s oldest establishment, a Wild Bill Hickok joint, though really, these days, it’s more like a restaurant you’d find in downtown Disney, covered in schticky taxidermy and plastic gingham tablecloths.

Taidermy

Our $22 order of rattlesnake queso was a severe disappointment, wherein the flavor of the meat (if there was any) was completely drowned out by gas station variety nacho cheese.

rattlesnake

Ostrich faired a little better, as it was served a la carte, a round, red filet that looked more like something the cat left on the living room floor than dinner, but, presentation (clearly) was not the point.

Ostrich

We requested a sear on our order of bison prime rib, which ended up being the star of the show, a thick hunk of meat that was well seasoned and perfectly pink and juicy inside. Note to the kitchen, you can go ahead and keep the out-of-season sliced tomato and kale leaf garnish for other uses. Thanks.

Bison

The dry, gooey, and bland mashed potatoes were just plain offensive, as was the flavorless, soft crusted bread, so, unless trying Ostrich is top priority, I’d go ahead and scratch the Buckhorn from the old “must try” list.

 

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