Archive for January, 2010
Freshii Posted by
A new Toronto based, fresh food concept plans to open later this year on the 16th Street Mall. Freshii is taking over the currently vacant former 980 SF Colorado Collection location at Republic Plaza. Started in 2005, the concept opened with lines out of the door and has expanded throughout Canada. Just recently, they entered the U.S. market with a location in Chicago. Downtown Denver will be the first Colorado location with others planned in New York, Washington D.C. and Houston. Their vision, simply stated is: Fresh Food, Custom Built, Fast.
“Freshii is focused on becoming the most convenient choice for healthy and fresh meals and snacks served quickly in a cool, clean, and environmentally sustainable setting for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between.”
Their lunch menu has a lot of options including salads, bowls, wraps, burritos, soup and even frozen yogurt. A nice feature is the ability to custom build your selection and know the nutritional value of each one as you go. Along the sustainability route they purposely open smaller stores to minimize their impact on the environment, buy from farms with environmentally responsible growth methods, use packaging made from corn or potatoes and even let you bring in your own bowl to use (they wash it for you). I like that they have a BBQ Chicken Salad on the menu and that they educate consumers using a rating system indicating which choices of dressings/toppings are the healthiest.
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Olinger Mortuary Site Posted by
Today is was confirmed that phase two of the re-development of the former Olinger Mortuary site in the Lower Highlands is moving forward. Developer Paul Tamburello and his partner Stephanie Garcia secured $2.1 million in private financing for the project from investors after they were unable to get a traditional bank loan. This is the same team who a few years ago completed phase one that now is home to LoLa, Vita and Little Man Ice Cream.
Having been to LoLa and Vita many times I am very excited about the possibilities of what will occupy the 18,000+ SF building located at the corner of W 30th Ave. & Umatilla. Already confirmed is a restaurant that will take up half of the second floor (approx. 5,500 SF) and have a huge rooftop patio underneath the giant Olinger sign - very cool. Since this building is about 40 ft taller than the one housing LoLa and Vita, the views of the Downtown skyline will be stunning. The chef and concept of the restaurant are TBD.
Other plans for the site include a plaza in between the buildings along 30th and around Little Man that would be a community gathering place that could be programmed for movies etc. A 7,800 SF ground floor space could be split into two or be occupied by a single tenant - possibly a market. Phase one of the project served as a catalyst for this neighborhood and it will be exciting to see this site evolve in the coming months.
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Denver Restaurant Week 2010 Posted by
This year Denver Restaurant Week will actually be two weeks running from February 20th through March 5th. As a foodie and restaurant junkie, I look forward to this time when I can enjoy my favorite places and try out some new eateries without spending as much. I hope that with two weeks it will be somewhat easier to get reservations but some places are a challenge no matter when it is.
I checked out the list of participating restaurants and the only real disappointment I have is that Fruition chose not to participate. I am sure they have their reasons, but I feel it is a glaring omission. I was hoping Twelve would be on the list as well. I am happy to see that a couple of Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group locations, Bistro Vendome, Rioja and Frank Bonanno’s spots are all participating. I had better make my reservations ASAP or all of my first choices will be booked.
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The Avenue Grill Posted by
On Friday night we had a late supper at the Avenue Grill located at 17th & Washington in Uptown. We have enjoyed the Avenue for the better part of decade, celebrating many special occasions, anniversaries, etc. The Avenue is a “San Francisco style neighborhood bar and grill” that opened back in 1993. My favorite entree on their menu is the “Chinatown Pork Chop” which is served with a hot mustard drizzle, wasabi mashed potatoes and their vegetable spring rolls.
Lately, we have we have been arriving around 10pm to settle in at their bar to enjoy a few cocktails and a couple of their appetizers. While there were no specials on drinks or food, it continues to be a ritual that we really enjoy. This time a new appetizer caught our attention, “Fondue Style Smoked Cheddar with Porcini” that was served with grilled flatbread and an assortment of vegetables. We also selected their “Togarashi Spiced Calamari” (crusted with semolina and seven spice and siracha aioli) and “Chicken and Spinach Pot Stickers”.
The fondue was amazing and we quickly ran out of things to dip into it, the flavors were bold and smokey - an overall nice surprise and something we certainly will order again. The calamari is consistently delicious as are their pot stickers. We found a couple of martinis (they have blue cheese stuffed olives) to be the perfect accompaniment to our late night supper. I like have dining options like this as an alternative to our traditional 8pm reservation scene.
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Goorin Bros. Posted by
One of several new tenants announced recently that plan to open later this year in Larimer Square is Goorin Bros. who will take the space located at 1410 Larimer (formerly Loft 22). The San Francisco based hat shop has been around since 1895 and offers a wide assortment of styles including fedoras, duckbills, beanies, baseball and cadets.
“Goorin offers timeless, classic styles with a unique flare and personality - hats that allow you to make a statement without having to say a word.”
Goorin has locations in some of the most unique shopping destinations around the country including Nob Hill, Haight Street, North Beach, Melrose, Union Square and Bucktown. I think it reflects very well on Downtown Denver that with only 8 stores they chose Larimer Square for their 9th location. Stores that offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience like this are just what we need.
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Smashburger Posted by
Downtown Denver is getting a Smashburger. Long rumored to be looking for a suitable location, they will be taking over the former 2,164 SF Christopher & Banks space at the Tabor Center in between Ling & Louie’s and the future location of Mellow Mushroom. I have not been to one yet but I am excited they are going to be Downtown.
Smashburger is a fast-casual restaurant that has its headquarters in Denver that opened their first store in 2007. Their core concept is that they take fresh, never frozen 100% Angus beef that is then smashed, seared and seasoned on the grill. If you don’t want beef they also offer “smashchicken” and a ”smashsalad”. Along with an assortment of sides including “smashfries” they offer Haagen-Dazs Milk Shakes or Malts and Root Beer Floats. Construction is already underway and Smashburger will open for business this summer.
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Mellow Mushroom Posted by
Mellow Mushroom, a pizza restaurant based out of Atlanta, will be opening their second Colorado location in Downtown Denver later this summer. Located at 1201 16th Street, on the ground floor of the Tabor Center, they will be taking the long vacant 6,402 SF space right at the corner of 16th & Lawrence. This is exciting because it will mean that soon the entire block will have all of its retail spaces filled and as a result generate a huge amount of pedestrian activity in that part of Downtown.
Founded in 1974, Mellow Mushroom offers salads, pizza, calzones, deli hoagies, grilled hoagies and a wide selection of unique and local beers. I look forward to trying their “Funky Q Chicken” (BBQ Chicken, Cheddar Cheese, Caramelized Onions, and Bacon) or “Buffalo Chicken” (Hot Buffalo Chicken, Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Mozzarella Cheese) pizzas and you can also build your own. I previously toured the space when it was just a concrete box and I think Mellow will fit in the space nicely. It will be cool to have a unique, slightly funky, sit down restaurant where you can grab a pizza and some beer right on the Mall.
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Rioja Classics Posted by
I recently found out about a couple of things that make me want to re-visit Rioja again sometime during January. Our last visit was during La Piazza Dell’Arte back in June for brunch. Through the end of the month during lunch they will be bringing back their “Main Lobster Club Sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula, beefsteak tomatoes, aioli and house made crispy vegetable chips“. For dinner they are serving “Carnaroli Risotto with Main lobster, mascarpone, asparagus and lobster bisque“. I am huge fan of lobster so I am going to try and get back to sample both.
Another fun thing they are doing is “Tuesday Sips & Snacks“. During January if you stop by any Tuesday after 5pm until close you can sample four wines that are paired with four themed bite-size snacks for $15.00. I missed last night but on the 12th they will have “wines of Spain“, on the 19th they will have “pinot posse” and to wrap up on the 26th they will feature “the sauvignons“. I really hope they do more specials like this throughout 2010 and think it is a great way to kick off the New Year.
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New Year’s Eve Dinner Posted by
Last night to ring in 2010 we had dinner at Olivea on 17th. I posted about our first dinner there last July. They had three seating times for the evening, 5pm (three courses for $48), 7pm and 9pm. We chose their third seating at 9pm that offered four courses for $58. For a festive start to our meal we ordered their hibiscus martini that came with an actual flower bud at the base and was finished with prosecco - I would definitely have ordered another but we got a bottle of wine instead. Our 1st course was antipasto for the table that came with house made charcuterie, marinated vegetable salads and cured olives. The duck liver mousse and fig compote (dried figs & pickled red onions) were two of the real bright spots of the plate but everything was delicious.
For my second course I chose their “ricotta filled ravioli with short rib ragu” and also got to try their “house made gnocchi with shrimp, pesto and slow roasted tomatoes“. The portions were just right and the depth of flavor in the short rib ragu was a nice surprise. I selected the “lamb roulade with crispy potatoes and rosemary jus” for my third course. The lamb was perfectly cooked and filled with an amazing combination of herbs and cheeses. The potatoes were the crispiest I have ever had and the rosemary jus balanced it well.
I finished with the “pear galette with caramel crunch gelato” which arrived at the table still warm from the oven. The gelato was rich but not overpowering and melted into the pears and pastry - it was very nice. Along with dessert we ordered a flight of ports that came with three selections. I have never had port with dessert and found it to be a great way to end a meal. I am very pleased that Olivea has continued to grow and thrive. Every evening they are packed and I am glad that the food and service have remained consistent. This dinner was a great way to start off 2010 and I look forward to many more.
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