Food & Drink » Dining Reviews

The Springs trends Asian with excellent new eateries and drink spots

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In the past, we’ve often elected to pen ponderous Top 10 lists of our favorite bites for a year-in-review. But for 2017, we’re breaking form to give shorter shout-outs to more players that make our food and drink community great. Our intent is to speak more contextually on the culinary culture and sipping scene, touch on trends, and distill the most memorable moments from the multitude of meals we both tackled. So, we agreed to dialogue in a Google Doc, ideally providing a roadmap for recapping 2017 in style:

G-$, what up, bromigo?

Matt, you’ve never called me that, and you don’t talk like that. Is someone else on your computer?

Ahem … no, it’s me. Sincere apologies, most valued colleague.

You’re good, MC Schnip (candidate for worst rapper name ever right there). Before we burn too many copy-inches, what have you noticed about our
dining scene this year?
Bada Japanese - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Bada Japanese
A bunch of Asian spots opening, some traditional, some modern. Rooster’s House of Ramen is of course contemporary fusion, showing amusing touches and ample sass. In regard to Japan’s other popular export, the Springs hasn’t yet seen its saturation point for sushi spots. Sushi Ato, Sawara, Bada Japanese, Uri Sushi, O’Sae Sushi Ramen Bistro and Jei Sushi all opened. The ocean called; it wants its fish back.

We saw some authentic Chinese cuisine at Wu Hoo’s this year, too, which was an eye-opener in a dining environment saturated with American-Chinese bites. I’m pretty jazzed for O’Sae’s Indonesian options, too. Speaking of Uri Sushi, that hwe-dup-bap (a Korean dish) was stupid-good. It’s hard not to dig a bowl of rice and raw fish if sashimi’s your thing, but that chogochujang amps everything up beautifully. I could seriously eat that pretty close to every day. You said something similar about the chirashi bowl at Sawara, right?
Sakura Speakeasy - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Sakura Speakeasy

Yeah, half the time I’m shopping at University Village I hit Sawara for that chirashi; it’s $10 I’ll never regret spending. I’d be remiss not to mention finding the Springs’ first-to-my-knowledge Malay spot, Asian Cookery. Two words on them: curry puffs. And we should note Sakura, inside Rooster’s, for fun, Asian-inspired cocktails. Shall we talk hooch for a minute before getting back to bites? What’s stood out?

I so love Sakura. Our readers who have never had Japanese whiskey will appreciate the reminder that this is the spot to be educated on it. But in general, it’s been a good year for booze in town. Not so much for my liver, but hey, what’s a few known carcinogens between friends? As a beer nerd, I have to praise Cerberus for taking home 12 Indy Best Of wins and producing consistently excellent beers. Those brewers just don’t slip up. For newcomers, Goat Patch has done really well, nailing the technical stuff. But what’s stood out for you? 
Cerberus Brewing Co. - BRIENNE BORTZ
  • Brienne Bortz
  • Cerberus Brewing Co.

Short of many big openings, Brooklyn’s has held strong, especially by bringing on Warehouse superstar Stephen Winchell after Nate Windham’s departure. And I recently really enjoyed a pour of Bristol’s barrel-aged Winter Warlock, Wireless Warlock, or dessert-in-a-glass. But the story of 2017 for me may be interesting places at which to drink, like Pub Dog Colorado, the first to legally introduce dining and drinking with your pooch. It was nice to see Motif Jazz Cafe return, swanky as hell. Whirlyball has a worthwhile bar to accompany the stupid-fun game. And Oskar Blues blew into town like a Sharknado. (I never saw the movie but it sounds apropos somehow.) I’m probably most impressed by the energy and quality they’ve brought. Shall we move to caffeine?

Like the coffee in the IV drip next to my desk? Well, the Patty Jewett neighborhood got two high-profile spots in Good Neighbors Meeting House and Stir Coffee & Cocktails. I dug Stir a little more — I know you’re drinking Decc & decaf as much as me — but I’m still losing my cool over Story Coffee and Loyal Coffee. They both sent baristas to the U.S. Barista Championship this year, don’tcha know. Where were you going for your caffeine fix this year?

Yeah, I already wrote an ode to Story’s divine sea salt caramel latte, and Loyal’s a gimme. Building Three’s totally bully, and you can never go wrong at The Principal’s Office or Wild Goose. R&R remains worth the Black Forest drive. … okay, back to food, let’s rapid-fire this. Whatcha got?

French Kitchen. Coffee with fun syrup combos and, more important, amazing pastries and breads — mon dieu, c’est parfait! For a Pueblo pick, La Forchetta da Massi bowled me over with Milanese fare. I feel like I’ve written a lot about Rock City Café this year, but they do good. And my favorite steak in 2017 came from Chinchorreo Fuera de la Isla; that churrasco was magical, and now I feel a craving for mofongo. How about you?

Agree on French Kitchen, it’s Broadmoor-caliber, and so is Nightingale Bread — oh, and the pizzas there!
Four by Brother Luck - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Four by Brother Luck
If you get in early enough to get one, that is.

Yep. So Indus Modern Kitchen really surprised me, up north, for fast killer Indian eats. And in the sea of Tex-Mex-meh, Mariscos Altamar showed spirit on the south side, and Don Tequila makes a great Monument option. I don’t know if you were planning to save the best for last, but it’s hard to argue that Four by Brother Luck isn’t pushing our scene harder than anyone. Which TV show’s he on this time?

Bravo’s Top Chef. (Not that I’m watching — millennials can’t afford cable.) And yeah, Four’s four-section menu is conceptual in a way the Springs doesn’t really see, and between the wine tasting menu you raved about and the cocktail program, there’s plenty good to drink, too. I don’t revisit places much, but anything Luck and crew are doing is worth keeping an eye on.

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