We were in Denver over the weekend – yeah, those crazy jet-setters are at it again!
We went to read some short stories for a wonderful group called Stories On Stage. They invite people like us to read stories and afterward, in the lobby, they serve cookies and milk to the audience. Seriously, they do.
Jill read two beauties – a Dorothy Parker and a William Faulkner. I read a knockout piece called Gryphon by Charles Baxter. It was a privilege for both of us to be able to rub up alongside these artists and get to taste their words on our lips. We had fun.
Allora. The night before, after we checked in and rested up from our flight, we went out for dinner, of course. Like most major U.S. cities – major being defined as having at least one professional sports team – Denver has a burgeoning restaurant scene. There’s all kinds of interesting stuff going on. Through a recommendation – backed up by intense googling on my part – we decided to try a place called Fruition. We were not disappointed.
Fruition started good and just got better. I had booked us at 9:00 P.M. because that’s all they had available online. When we got to Denver, Jill pointed out that our bodies were still on East Coast Time, which would make it an 11:00 dinner. Her body was way too hungry to wait for that. I called Fruition and explained our problem – blaming it all on Jill, of course – and they graciously said they’d fit us in at 8:00. It’s not a large place – 50 seats, I think; it was Friday night and they were bustling with business but they seated us in minutes. The room was appealing – a warm, country feel; not too loud, a factor that’s getting more and more important to me; and there was a great smell coming from the kitchen that permeated the room. We were off to a very good start, indeed.
I had checked out the menu online from New York, so I knew what to expect – farm-fresh food, cooked by award-winning chef Alex Seidel, who imports a lot of the restaurant’s ingredients – vegetables, fruits, cheeses — from his own farm out there in Colorado someplace.
Jill, of course, decided on the two-course grazing vegetables selection. She started with a crispy ricotta cake with kale and sprouts, followed by a main course of eggplant three ways surrounded by red pepper couscous, corn and lima beans. She was in heaven. She insists I mention that the three-way eggplant was her favorite.
I went the other way. First I had a kind of deconstructed carbonara — melt-in-your-mouth house-cured pork belly, a six-minute egg, parmesan broth and some cavatelli. It was a nice twist on a carbonara and I had no trouble putting it away. The egg was the freshest I’ve tasted since Italy. Then I had the grilled bavette steak au poivre. A bavette steak is also known as flap meat – not really flank, but close. It’s hard to find because the butcher usually saves it for himself. It’s a little fibrous and has a rich, beefy taste. I like this kind of cut served rare and they did it perfecly. The accompaniments were duck fat and pecorino fries and an oyster-mushroom confit sweetbread ragu. You figure out the punctuation; all I can say is that it was very tasty – the crunchy little sweetbread bits especially. A glass or two of California pinot rounded the whole thing out for me.
We had a lovely evening – thanks to chef Alex Seidel and his partner, Paul Attardi, who’s the man who makes the front of the house so welcoming.