Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House - Denver
My first experience with a Kevin Taylor restaurant was his original Zenith about 20 years ago and I was blown away by how good it was. Finally, we didn't have to head down to Taos or Santa Fe for upscale Southwestern grub. I've been a fan of his ever since, some of his restaurant creations have been better than others but most are several steps above the competition.
Went to see Spamalot last night at the Buell and "Kevin Taylor's at the Opera" couldn't be any more convenient so we decided to give it a try. No disappointment. The menu is not extensive but does offer variety. We began by sharing an absolutely stellar crab, avocado and mango terrine. My entree was the pan roasted salmon with cucumber salad and vegie spring rolls. Done to perfection. My wife had the roasted artichoke risotto and the only reason she didn't lick the plate was to save room for dessert. Portions are gratefully reasonable - akin to what you might find in Europe as opposed to the Cheesecake Factory. To say we "shared" the apricot creme brulee would be an exaggeration because she scarfed down twice as much as me! Needless to say, it was pretty damn good.
The wine list tends to be a bit on the high side but the selection of wines by the glass was pretty reasonable. Ranged from about $6 - $12. I had a fine Malbec, she had Pinot Grigio.
Although dinner was not cheap, it was not outrageous either. This is a great place to go for a pre-show or pre-opera dinner. But, we'll be back even on an off-night.
I ate there last year (before the opera) and had a similar - good not great - experience. I'd suggest getting to the DCPA half an hour or so earlier and eating at Kevin Taylor's in the Teatro. Last year they even had a price-fix pre theater menu which was a good deal as I recall. All in all, it's a much better experience and only a block away.
Your exposure to Kevin Taylor was similar to mine. I found, and fell in love with Zenith. They rose to #3, behind the Flagstaff House, and Tante Louise. Different atmosphere, and cuisine, but they did very well, indeed.
I followed Kevin Taylor to Brassiere Z, and, while I missed some things, found others. His flash-fried calamari is still #1, and I’ve had calamari around the globe. His artichoke, done in a similar fashion is also still #1. While Tante’s was my all time favorite restaurant, Chef Michael Dagnehart, who did most of the cooking, while I was there, only had 2 #1s, his pecan, garlic crusted soft-shelled crab (my wife and I are from New Orleans, so we know our soft-shelled crabs and the #1, world-wide, is from Denver), and his lobster tamale, which is about #3 for similar, still.
Unfortunately, we left Denver, about the time that Brasserie Z closed, and I did see Restaurant Kevin Taylor, on one trip, but we did not have time to include it. Seems that it was on 16th St, or 17th St. Looked good, but there was no time.
The old venue at the DPAC was adequate, but was not equal to the best, just good and very convenient. I’m glad that Chef Taylor has taken over that spot, and look forward to trying it on our next trip back to Denver. Is his eponymous restaurant still open in the central business district [CBD]? Is it as good as earlier iterations of his places?
As a side, I miss the DPAC so badly. In Phoenix, we have a Frank Lloyd Wright designed venue, with the worst acoustics, and stadium seating. Looks great, but it is not worth the effort. I’d rather catch a show in San Francisco, NYC or London, than here. We just got some new venues in the downtown, but they still pale. Sorry Phoenix, but Denver has it all over you.
Though Tante’s is long gone, as is Zenith and Brasserie Z, I’d still love to come back to see what’s “cooking,” in the Mile High City. I try to follow all the threads, that I can, just to learn for my next (which will not come too soon) visit.
Thanks for the report,
I ate there a couple of years ago and agree that the dinner was great. I would definitely recommend it pre-theater though, as we had 8 p.m. reservations and were literally the only customers in the entire restaurant.
By the way, how late did Spamalot run? We're going to see it Saturday, and I was hoping that we could grab a late meal after the show instead of eating before.
IslayMan - We were there too. It WAS funny, wasn't it?! Soon there will be another Taylor option at the DCPA (plus the two in the Teatro). That space across from the Buell/Ellie entrances now under construction will soon become Taylor's Limelight Supper Club, reportedly offering light pre-theater and intermission fare in one section and fine dining in another. I'm sure the food will be good too.
Claire: We saw Spamalot last year in New York and were "mildly" concerned that it wouldn't be as funny the second time around. WRONG! We thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed just as hard. Glad to hear about the new Taylor empire additions there. Some lighter options would be welcome.