Earlier this summer, we went to Denver, Colorado for a weekend get-away with another couple. The treasure named Denver is a quick flight from Texas. I fell in love with this city. I admit though, I love new cities. When it comes to new places, “I’m not a player, I just crush a lot.” This post is as much a travel post as it is an EATS post, so excuse me while I dabble in “Travel by PK” for a bit.
100 Miles from Denver: Astounding Natural Beauty
Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Lake Echo: About 1.5 hours from Denver is the Mount Evans Scenic Byway and Lake Echo. The drive alone getting up these mountains is scenic and adventurous. The Byway itself and the top of the Mount Evans are often closed due to ice, like they were in the middle of the summer when we went.
Red Rock, Blue Skies, Green Hills
The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a shorter drive from the heart of Denver and also a must-see attraction if you like nature. We absorbed the beauty eating cliff-side at the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. The massive red rocks standing against green rolling hills and the blue sky are picture-perfect, like a movie-set. The food was good too, but the view was reason enough to eat there.
Mountains are amazing and all, but now for the Food…
Acorn. (click for website) This was one of my favorite stops along our way because as a result of its innovative location, we got more than we bargained for. Let me explain: Acorn is inside a food-complex called The Source. The Source (click for website) is described as “a reclaimed 1880’s foundry turned new epicurean marketplace in Denver’s River North District,” or as a “new generation urban market” and basically that means when you walk into this warehouse, you find a number of restaurants, a bar, a meat market, a bakery, a coffee shop, an art gallery, a brewery, and maybe some live music. I’m serious – this magical place is not a figment of my imagination.
We really enjoyed the kale & apple salad ($12) on the mid-day menu. This salad had the perfect balance of almonds, parmesan, and shaves apples, and was dressed perfectly. Kale salads are on every menu now – I mean, I have even had a few kale salads at the airport. When kale becomes an airport-food, you know kale has made it big. But, not all places are doing it right. This was a REALLY good kale salad, the kind that could convert one into a kale-believer.
The meatballs and grits ($13) was a fun inventive dish – I can’t say I ever even thought of that combination before. We also had a burger, which was good. After we ate a late lunch, we had cappuccinos at the coffee shop in the Source, got some chocolate muffins from the bakery, and window shopped with the other “vendors,” all of which are regional. It was a wonderful way to spend a few hours in-doors in the afternoon.
Fruition. (click for website) Sometimes you have a dining experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. It was our last evening in Denver. We sat at a two-top by the window and the bright sun warmed us as we enjoyed a meal together. My fiancé did not do anything particularly romantic, he didn’t even pick out the restaurant (that’s my job, haha)…but, thanks to the experience, I fell a little bit more in love with him while we ceremoniously had our last vacation meal. (dating tip: good food at a romantic restaurant works like a charm).
Fruition is created by chef Alex Seidel, who often sources from his own 10-acre farm (read more about the farm here). Everything at this restaurant, down to the butter, was delicate and refined, and true to the simple ingredients. Featured below is the Pasta Carbonara with a six-minute egg sitting on top of house-cured pork belly, hand made cavatelli pasta and a cacio pecora broth. I will remember this dish forever, and try desperately to hold the taste in my mind so I can revisit it in my memory. The egg and egg yolk paired perfectly with the pork belly (a match made in heaven). The hand-made pasta and broth could be spooned in with a bite of pork belly, adding moisture and flavor. I won’t ever try to re-create this dish, I just can’t wait to get back to Denver and have it again. The menu changes seasonally, but luckily this is an item is one of the mainstays on the menu.