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Feb 20, 2010 10:23 AM

Running Post - DRW Reviews

Our first reservation is Wednesday night at Highland's Garden Cafe - will post review later that night. YUM - I *LOVE* this time of year!

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  1. We tried Rioja last night and the apps, dessert, and sides were amazing, but the meat in both of our entrees was not good (tough duck and gristly lamb). I really should have said something-kicking myself now. But everything else was so ridiculously good (Rioja "picnic" for two and the beignets, plus everything else on our entree plates), that it was still worth it. The service was outstanding too.

    10 Replies
    1. re: margemayhem

      That's a shame about the meat for sure - glad to hear everything else (including the service) was good. Thanks for your review!

      1. re: margemayhem

        Rioja is 9 days away for me. But Restaurant Kevin Taylor is on tap for tonight!!!

        1. re: LurkerDan

          ohhh! please post back on how it was- we are going tomorrow night. i already know i'm ordering the lamb for sure! can't wait to hear about it and go tomorrow!

          1. re: liveloveat34

            It was very good. I probably watch too much food competition shows on TV, so when I eat at a place like Kevin Taylor, I have my judging hat on. And the food didn't wow me. I had the gnocchi appetizer which was quite good, very delicate flavors. The sauce tasted so delicious I used a piece of bread to get the last of it, but the flavor of the bread overpowered the sauce, it was that delicate! The gnocchi was probably the best part of the meal for me. My gf had the soup, I tasted it and it was good but can't offer much more than that.

            For the entree, we both had the steak. It was prepared nicely, but the steak itself was underseasoned, it needed to be mixed with the other components in one bite, and then it was excellent. The side piece of meat (the listed menu said veal cheeks, but the menu at the restaurant said something different, can't recall) was very tender and tasty, but seemed out of place. Overall, the entree was good, but was just missing something.

            We got one of each dessert, and the creme brulee was definitely our favorite, though the other one was nice.

            The "sommelier recommended" wine on the special 5280 wine list, Banfi Centine super tuscan, was quite good for $32, though of course it's always disheartening to look it up later and know you can buy it yourself for less than half that. Ah, well, that's restaurant wine!

            The service was also impeccable. I especially appreciated how the entire staff seemed dedicated to helping you. All in all, a very good meal, but far from transcendent. Not as good as 2 years ago, but I would still return.

            Hope that helps!

            Terroir up next for me on Wednesday!

            1. re: LurkerDan

              I did Terroir during Boulder First Bite and it was great.

              1. re: margemayhem

                We ate at Terroir last night, and it was up and down. I had the lobster ravioli appetizer and it was not good. I ate it only because it was on my plate, but it had an acrid taste that was unpleasant. I tasted the bruschetta -- the goat cheese and marmalade one -- which was good (but nothing spectacular). The hanger steak, however, was quite tasty. Good flavors, well cooked. I tasted the salmon and it was nicely done, but the steak was better. My dessert was tiramisu and it was fresh tasting and enjoyable, but not spectacular. And the creme brulee was nice, but the dish was too shallow, so too much carmelized shell compared to the custard below.

                Overall, it was a decent meal, but not something that would make me run to eat there again. However, one great thing I must mention. A friend who dined with us is vegan, and they were able to prepare a full restaurant week menu for her. The appetizer and main course were fairly easy to do, but they also prepared a vegan dessert that was not on the menu for her. We all really appreciated their level of service on this.

                We also did an optional $15 wine pairing, and when 2 people in my party did not like the wine they were given, the waiter immediately brought them a different wine. So the restaurant wins points for good service.

                TAG is up next Monday!

                1. re: LurkerDan

                  Ate at TAG last night, first time there. I liked the space, although it is a bit noisy. My gf and I shared meals, so I tasted 2 of each course.

                  I had the chicken salad, which was ok but nothing special at all, I was kind of disappointed in it. One diner at our table had the hamachi appetizer, which he said was rather bland. The clear winner -- and perhaps the best thing I have had yet for any DRW meal -- was the seafood potstickers. Crispy, rich, yet also somehow light, and full of delicious flavors. Really special. Don't bother with the other appetizer choices.

                  For the main course, I had the pork loin and my gf had the steak, and both were delicious. The steak had a curry sauce, which was a surprising flavor (curry and cow are not often mixed!), but it worked beautifully. Both dishes were well cooked and accompanied by sides and sauces that complemented them well.

                  For dessert, we had the chocolate cake and the macadamia cake. Both were good, but nothing special. The chocolate cake was very one note which is fine, if that one note is spectacular, but here it was just good. The macadamia nut cake was better if only for the fact that it was accompanied by more, and had a few different flavors at play.

                  Overall, a very satisfying meal, and it succeeded at what DRW is supposed to do: introduce you to new restaurants that you may then (hopefully) return to, and I will return to TAG.

                  1. re: LurkerDan

                    I also dined at Tag for the first time during DRW.

                    The food was very good, the service not so much.

                    I started with the hamachi which I enjoyed followed by the Sunfish which was excellent and finished with the brownie which I enjoyed very much.

                    1. re: apmcmoon

                      I forgot to mention that one of our party had the sunfish, and he also thought it was excellent.

                      Our service was ok. Not stellar, but not terrible either. We were seated right by the kitchen so it enabled us to flag our server down fairly easily when we needed something.

          2. re: LurkerDan

            Ate at Rioja last night. Overall, a fabulous meal and I now understand why it is considered one of the best this city has to offer.

            One thing they did that annoyed me was called to confirm my reservation (that didn't annoy me) but left a message asking me to call back and confirm my reservation. I made a reservation, even gave Open Table a credit card number to do so, and they make me call them to confirm it? That's annoying. Maybe I didn't have to call back, but I wasn't willing to risk it.

            One thing they did for DRW that I thought was fantastic is they had their entire menu available, with a number of the items "included" in the 52.80 but the remaining items all with a few dollars up charge. I had been dying to try their pork belly appetizer, so was glad that I could do so for a $2 additional charge.

            So, I had the pork belly appetizer, and tasted the brussel sprouts salad and a soup special (north african seafood chowder?). All were fantastic.

            For my main, I had the short ribs and my gf had the skate wing, and both were really top notch. Others in our party had the lamb and the scallops, and they were also raving. For dessert we had the beignets.

            Overall, DRW was a great success for me. Rioja was easily the best complete meal, and will be saving my pennies to return there. However, I think the best single thing I ate was the seafood potstickers at TAG.

        2. We ate at Shazz on Sunday and they put together a nice menu for DRW. The appetizers were very small portions, but nice presentation and flavors. They served a lemon sorbet as a palette cleanser that was delicious. Among our group we tried all three entrees and they were all nicely presented. The two desserts were really lackluster - not creative or very flavorful. It was a good excuse to try this place out, but I would have been disappointed if it wasn't at RW prices.

          5 Replies
          1. re: SeattliteChower

            I thought their menu looked good so maybe we'll try that when DRW is all over. Thanks for the review!

            1. re: SeattliteChower

              We ate at Shazz last week as well. Portions were super small, food was well seasoned and had good what I call "plate appeal", but I agree 100% if I was paying full price, even if the portion size were great, I'd be disappointed, don't think I'll try the place on non RW.

              1. re: tesnjen

                SC and tesnjen: do you think the appetizer sizes were typical, or downsized for RW? I mean, the latter would be uncool, but at least it might mean they're normally bigger. But also, sounds like the only disappointment was in desserts, and that you liked the meals overall? I'm just trying to figure out where the disappointment resides *besides* in portion size.

                I ask because it's one place that's on my radar; the regular menu looks great.

                1. re: tatamagouche

                  Tata, I honestly can't make an educated guess....I'd like to to think they are scaled down, as I can't realistically see their stated prices and small plates, being any type of sucess, great tasting or not. That said, since I've only been this one time, I have read some reviews, along the similar theme (disappointing portion size), that were not conducted during RW, so it might be a grander issue that I thought. The food was good, but for me not wow, knock your socks off, write home to mama kind.


                  1. re: tesnjen

                    Got it, thanks...maybe I'll start with trying it for brunch in that case.

            2. Highland's Garden Cafe
              -lovely with exposed brickwalls, great nooks and crannies and very quaint

              My Meal
              glass of Adelsheim Pinot Gris
              butternut squash soup
              salad with spinach, dates, cheese, bacon, balsamic dressing
              five cheese lasagna
              cashew brownie with ice cream and homemade caramel sauce with coffee

              The Hub's Meal
              Guy Drew Cab Sav
              same starters
              we shared crab cakes
              beef short ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes
              same dessert with coffee

              We really liked our wine - perfect with our meals.
              The crab cakes were fine - nothing spectacular but definitely better with the onions and red pepper aioli.
              THe soup was good - I make BSS all the time and I prefer mine but mine has a kick of curry in it...this one was good but mild in flavor.
              THe salad was definitely a highlight - so good, clean, fresh and awesome dressing....I love cheese and dates in my salad and they were super tasty.
              My lasagna was good- very cheesy which was up my alley and the tomato sauce with it was very good. The hubs LOVED his short ribs - I don't eat red meat so I didn't taste them but he said they were some of the best he'd ever had....he was cutting with his fork. The potatoes were also good he said.
              The dessert was very good but RICH - I love dessert and could only eat half of it....very chocolatey but the caramel sauce was SOOOOO very good.
              The service was excellent - our waiter was very attentive, nice, helpful and on point. Our water glasses were always full and we had everything we needed the first time.

              Overall, we enjoyed it and will go back again for something else. We are looking forward to our next reservation...Texas de Brazil! I love their salad bar and parmesan pork so I can't wait! Enjoy your meals, everyone! :-)

              1. I see that Soleil is doing their menu without dessert. This is highly desired for me! I'm not a sweets-eater. Has anyone hit a DRW menu that also doesn't do dessert?

                4 Replies
                1. re: e_bone

                  Ditto, e_bone (where've you been?), that's one of the many reasons I'm anti-RW. Let me know what you find.

                  1. re: tatamagouche

                    We did the new outpost of The Oven last night. It wasn't exactly in the spirit of RW (going to a known location) but it was a kids thing. They had a great value meal- you split a large "weeds" and goat cheese salad, then a plate of really good housemade bread (probably a foccacia) with "spreads". A so-so pesto, a good olive tapanade and an amazingly good tomato / chili "stew" that was spicy and reminded me of harissa. You then split any one of their signature pizzas (we had the fresh tomato w/ green olives and oregano). They give you a bottle of Gabbiano chianti (always a solid choice) and then their signature dessert the "donut" (which my wife *loves*): which is a baked round of pizza dough sprinkled with sugar and a side of espresso / chocolate marscarpone cheese. It's rich and sinful.

                    Well executed and a great value. On a detracting note- the space was overly hot and smelled crummy - like they were burning something besides oak in the ovens!

                  2. re: e_bone

                    During First Bite Boulder, Arugula offered an appetizer and two items from their small-plate menu with an excellent choice of options -- not just a couple or three. See Three courses but no dessert included.

                    1. re: e_bone

                      Black Pearl has a cheese plate as one of their dessert options.

                    2. We did Steuben's on Wed. They have no choices on their DRW menu. You get clam chowder (which was a large bowl), their lobster roll, pudding, and a Sam Adams. They did have a choice of pudding: a butterscotch one which was listed on the menu and an off menu chocolate one with salt and a hint of chile.

                      Dinner at Steuben's is never really "fine dining" but it was a heck of a lot of food and was tasty. Our server wasn't the friendliest guy but adequate.

                      Then we ate at Black Pearl last night. The DRW menu was a little bit different than the published one. They had replaced the short ribs with a snapper dish, which disappointed my husband--especially since they moved the short ribs to the (slightly) more expensive "weekly tasting menu" ($33) and he didn't want the other dishes on that menu. They replaced the buffalo chili with a carrot curry soup.

                      I was really happy with the changes. We both LOVED the soup and I really enjoyed my snapper. Hubby really enjoyed his cassoulet. Dessert was a pot de creme (really more of a custard), which was delicious, and a cheese plate, also good (small, but enough for me).

                      Service had a couple of minor snafus, but was so friendly and other times good that it was a very enjoyable evening.

                      Panzano on Wed.!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: margemayhem

                        We were at Black Pearl last week too, they swapped out all but one item on their publicized menu, quite a shock, since we picked the restaurant for their specific menu's. . But our real disappointment was when, they first of all replaced the short ribs, like you mentioned , We were offered a choice of Pot de Creme and Carrot cake souffle, as they were out of the other option and the carrot cake souffle was awesome. Not a bad value, nice setting, but really disappointing when you pick a restaurant for a specific dish and they sub it out.

                        1. re: tesnjen

                          Too bad about Black Pearl; though it has its ups and downs, it's a personal/sentimental fave of mine. Annoying that they should do that—probably for the servers too, who then have to deal with customer disappointment.

                          If you were to give it another shot sometime, I'd like to think you' d both enjoy it even more.