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Braised Pork Belly in Denver

s
southdenverhoo Nov 4, 2009 08:46 AM

It's my birthday and our celebration of that fact will be at Olivea on Saturday, but I'm in the mood for something less fancy but still good tonight, and the taste I'm hankering for is braised pork belly, maybe with some roasted root vegetables, someplace where I can wear jeans, Chucks, and a polo.

I like the pork belly at Beatrice & Woodsley but that is NOT the scene I'm interested in, for this evening.

Thoughts? Claire? tatamagouche? Bueller? Anybody?

  1. k
    kosslerj Nov 4, 2009 08:51 AM

    Southdenverhoo,
    I haven't tried it on my gluttonous quest yet, but the braised pork belly from Bistro One on Broadway is on Denver Magazine's list of top 100 must eats in Denver.

    jko
    www.musteatdenver.com

    1. s
      SeattliteChower Nov 4, 2009 11:40 AM

      I've loved the pork belly at Rioja both times I've had it, the preparation changes but it is usually on the menu. Bones usually has pork belly on the menu, I haven't tried it.

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      Rioja
      1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

      4 Replies
      1. re: SeattliteChower
        r
        rlm Nov 5, 2009 07:29 PM

        Too bad I missed this yesterday. Let us know where you ended up.

        I would second the amazing pork belly appetizer at Rioja (listed as "fresh bacon"). There would probably be a riot on Larimer if Chef Jen took that or the artichoke tortelloni off of the menu. The first time I had the app was three years ago when a friend and I tromped through the snow from Invesco Field all the way there to meet our better halves. We were cold and starving and my friend kept going on about how all he wanted was some bacon. When we sat down and looked at the menu, there was no question what we were ordering first!

        I like the pork belly buns at Bones too. The belly is better than the piglet, but if you ask nicely they will give you at least one of each so you can compare (there are three total to an order). I would not put extra hoisin on top until you taste it though, as I think they dab plenty on top. Order them as soon as you sit down (and some marrow too!) because they take a bit of extra time. Save room for the pork udon or lobster miso ramen though. They have a happy hour between 5 and 6 with a bunch of $5 apps and drinks (belly not included).

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        Rioja
        1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

        1. re: rlm
          s
          southdenverhoo Nov 6, 2009 09:28 AM

          We went to Bistro One, and the pork belly was very good. Enough so that yesterday i went to the Pacific Ocean Asian Grocery store at 2200 W. Alameda and bought 5 (!) lbs of pork belly, in 2 slabs, ($1.99/lb, and right next to the bellies they had pork butts for $1.69/lb) and I'll be experimenting with that this weekend.

          Bistro One's bellies are, I believe, braised and then grilled, so you get the good pulled pork-ish/stringy texture inside but with a nice grill-marked crust. The central fat strip is no longer visible, I guess all slow-cooked out, but the goodness of the rendered fat is still there. There are little bits of roasted tart apples and sweet potato gnoccchi supporting the belly, but the belly is the star and you get quite a bit of it for the $9 tariiff for this app.

          First step is to try some of my own ideas (this will sound stupid but I'm going to try Dr. Pepper--I know, I know, it's like your crazy Alabama aunt's "Pork Tenderloin in Coca-Cola Sauce"-- as a braising liquid on one of these slabs; I use Dr Pepper in a BBQ sauce that unknowing people I foist it off on seem to like), but I'll definitely be hitting Bones, Rioja, and the Argyll before too long, so thanks, all, for the suggestions.

          We had had a large plate of mussels in a rich broth elsewhere (Rackhouse Pub, in the Stranahan's distillery in the old Heavenly Daze space) and were far from famished, so just did apps and salad at Bistro One; My wife, I regret to say, did not enjoy her soupe l'oignon nearly as much as I did my pork belly, though we both liked the delicately (but delightfully) dressed Bibb salad. (On the onion soup, she prefers gruyere to the Jarslberg they use, and she wasn't thrilled by the flavor of the crouton, and the broth itself seemed a little weird to her.)

          BUT: despite our not ordering mains, the bartender (Kristen?) overheard that it was my birthday and brought us out a dessert menu for my choice of comped birthday dessert, a very gracious gesture I thought, given our very low tab. I do sort of expect it, on a birthday, when doing the full monty, but not with just cocktails and apps at the bar. We chose the cinnamon apple fritter with cinnamon ice cream and a sort of crispy cone-like sugar crust, and caramel sauce, shared it, and loved it.

          This is a very reasonably priced little bistro, eg steak frites at $18, a big ribeye at $23, the majority of the entrees below $20; every seat in the dining room was filled on a November Wednesday night, and everybody looked as happy as we were. Service was wonderful (there are some negative reviews of this aspect, out there in the yelp world, but they do not jibe with our experience at the bar, nor our observations of the dining room)

          We'll be back.

          -----
          Rioja
          1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

          1. re: southdenverhoo
            k
            kosslerj Nov 6, 2009 11:15 AM

            Southdenverhoo - glad you liked it. From your description, I can't wait to give it a shot. I had some pork belly last night at Parallel 17 and was fairly disappointed. Nice write up!

            jko
            www.musteatdenver.com

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            Parallel 17
            1600 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80218

            1. re: southdenverhoo
              tatamagouche Dec 30, 2009 12:35 PM

              Wow, I totally missed this. Rioja's is famously killer, and I love it, but I haven't been to Bistro One since it opened, and it's right around on the corner. Gotta go back soon. Plus I want to support them given all the construction crap they're dealing with.

        2. c
          ClaireWalter Nov 4, 2009 12:01 PM

          I wish I could help, but I'm so not into pork belly these days -- usually way too rich for my taste. Musteastdenver has an interesting pass-along recommendation. I've linked to his/her blog but have no idea who he/she is and haven't been able to notify him/her, so I'm glad the recommendations are appearing here.

          1. m
            Mimi Nov 4, 2009 01:49 PM

            The food section of today's Denver Post featured Argyll (located at 2700 E. Third) and pictured a pork belly with carrot puree that looked fabuluous.

            1. s
              stybeaujolais Feb 2, 2010 10:51 PM

              Fruition has a delicious Pork Belly - a take on Carbonara with a poached egg, peas, and parmesan broth that will melt your face off. It's ridiculously good.

              Table 6's belly variations are great.

              1. f
                FRF30 Feb 3, 2010 01:19 PM

                TAG is doing a take on a bbq steamed pork bun - it has the pork belly resting on top of the bun instead of inside. My description is not giving it justice, but it was fantastic.

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