Denver is getting spoiled. In recent years a number of shining stars have come to the restaurant scene, elevating Denver’s culinary options to increasingly higher levels. It seems with each new day area foodies bask in a diner’s paradise of excellent meals, with options across the state. Meanwhile, more established restaurants have been raising the bar (and kitchen) to keep pace with the newcomers. While they can sometimes get lost in the rush to try the newest restaurants, many longstanding restaurants are worth a look. Among them is Gene Tang’s chic 1515 Restaurant in LoDo.
We began dinner with a bottle of rosé wine and a toast to spring, accompanied by an amuse bouche of smoked salmon with a pungent tamponade. 1515 Restaurant was participating in Taste Around Town, a restaurant week for wine. To celebrate, we chose a Rhône wine, M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Rose 2011. It was dry, delicate, and tasted of strawberries and spring’s first blossoms. It was the perfect prelude to a wonderful meal.
Four appetizers followed:
7X Colorado Cattle Company Wagyu Beef served Ishiyaki-style, cooked tableside on a 500-degree stone, with XO Paint and Yazu Ponzu. Pretty much the coolest interactive dish ever. Think of it as the appetizer equivalent of a hot stone massage.
Elk Carpaccio and 7X Tartare with “Yolk,” capers, malt aioli, pickled mustard, pecorino, and foie dippin’ dots. The pungent flavors in this preparation were a welcome surprise, and quickly elevated this appetizer to a favorites list. It was robust and bold, and seemed like it might overpower the more muted notes in the rosé wine. However the acidity in the wine proved a nice complement to the bright flavors and textures in the dish.
Molecular Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Gnocchi with sunchokes, espuma verde, heirloom carrots, Brussels sprouts, and Calamansi lime. The staff recommended our group of four order it for an appetizer. It was an earthy dish featuring sweet potato gnocchi made the traditional way, and a frothier version made the molecular way, whipped to increase the air.
Seared Diver Scallops with vanilla terrine, watermelon radish, cocoa, and fennel pollen. These buttery-rich scallops were a natural pairing with the dry rosé.
To accompany the main courses, we agreed on an excellent bottle of Murua Reserva Rioja Tempranillo 2007. It offered a smooth, peppery finish that was made for food.
Sous-Vide Colorado Lamb Chop and Braised Cheeks with mace braised fennel, garbanzo beans, pine nuts, turmeric gel, and pickled garlic. Sous-vide is the name of the cooking technique where the food marinates and cooks in a vacuum-sealed package at an even temperature for 27+ hours. The environment forces the flavors into the food, ideally to the “molecular” level.
“True” Sous Vide Black Angus Beef Tenderloin that really did melt in the mouth.
Chicken Three Ways with ricotta dumplings, fiddlehead ferns, and huckeberry. This dish presented three unusual preparations of chicken, complete with the unexpected fiddlehead ferns. Refreshing, and paired very well with the Rioja.
Grilled Elk Steak with creamy faro, sunchoke flan, heirloom carrots, and a butterscotch demi. Every morsel of this entrée was thoughtfully prepared and almost as thoughtfully downed. Delicious!
Hard to pass up dessert:
Flambé Baked Alaska a La Molecular Gastronomy. Just too cool. It arrived aflame and left diners agog.
Vanilla and Coffee Crème Brulée with braised sour cherries, pistachio, butterscotch, and coffee powder. Twin dishes of crème brulée arrived with multiple tasting spoons.
1515 Restaurant offers Modern American Cuisine with a French twist. For a fun meal, reserve your seat at an upcoming 1515 Test Kitchen Dinner featuring dishes made using molecular gastronomy and sous-vide techniques.
Until our next adventure in wine and food…
1515 Market Street at 15th Street
Denver, Colorado 80202