Food & Drink » Dining Reviews

From soup to Nosh

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In the spirit of year-end roundup, we sifted through our dining reviews from 2010 to pick our most memorable local meals, or more precisely, single favorite dishes. From our short list, we mutually — and surprisingly civilly — agreed upon the following 10 plates, most of which we enjoyed together. Seek them out and you shall be rewarded.

10. Jasmine Cafe Chinese Restaurant (6064 Stetson Hills Blvd., 591-9898)

It's hard enough finding the latest location of David Bang's restaurant — he inexplicably relocates when he inevitably gets too busy. So just try finding out what's in one of his dishes, like the incredibly rich and flavorful wor wonton soup ($5.95). Humbly described as "your average soup broth," the chicken base full of wontons, shrimp, chicken, beef and mixed veggies is umami incarnate, and excuse enough to hightail it to Powers Boulevard before Bang bounces for more lackadaisical waters. — BC

9. Le Bistro (1015 W. Colorado Ave.,

Not that we don't occasionally worship sugar like a crystalline god, but you'll notice that the following is our only dessert pick on this list. There were simply so many savory superstars ... but Bryce recalled my "freaking out" over the lavender crème Anglaise topping to Le Bistro's Warm Chocolate Fondant ($7.50), a smooth, rich, phenylethylamine-packed punch of cocoa goodness. When the creamy lavender bleeds into the lava cake's liquid core, it's aromatherapy meets chocolate therapy, and pure bliss. — MS

8. Bingo Burger (101 Central Plaza, Pueblo,

Sure, you can put stuff on top of a burger to spiff it up, and Bingo Burger does. But first, into its namesake, third-of-a-pound, grass-fed Colorado beef patty ($6.25), they stuff fire-roasted green chilies. We loaded ours with extra chilies, chile cream cheese, a fried egg and thick-cut bacon for an overall impact just shy of a leg-twitching foodgasm. Drives are now being made between the Springs and Pueblo in the name of this true burger king, and rightfully so. — MS

7. Opb&j (3 E. Bijou St.,

Sometimes a name says it all, and such is the case with Opb&j's The Bomb ($6). I was nearly stupefied upon first bite, struck by just how well seemingly disparate elements work together: Thai ginger peanut butter, ginger pear jelly, watercress and sprouts on fluffy wheatberry bread. The dual ginger components deliver a tiny tongue sting, backed by the Thai pepper heat and then tempered by the fruit's sweetness. The greens add fresh crunch and contribute to an overall filling sandwich. — MS

6. The Silver Tongue Devil Saloon (10530 Ute Pass Ave., Green Mountain Falls, 684-2555)

Given that its neighbors are the Mucky Duck and the Pantry — both known and respected spots — it's saying something that I'd rather eat jalapeño poppers ($8) at the Silver Tongue Devil than anything else found up the pass. Owner Scott Hunt rolls red onions, jalapeños and cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella and cream cheeses in an egg-roll wrapper, seals it with an egg wash containing chili powder, cumin and white pepper, and fries the bunch at 350 degrees. With a side of sour cream, the poppers are bar manna from heaven, which might be why the saloon renamed the dish "The Independent's Favorite Poppers" after reading our initial review. — BC

5. TAPAteria (2607 W. Colorado Ave.,

Aside from the presentation and Greek yogurt substituted for crème fraîche, TAPAteria's incredible wild salmon tartare ($7) is a step-by-step recreation of Thomas Keller's classic, inspired by a trip Dave Brackett took to the French Laundry last year. Brackett uses sustainably caught, West Coast Coho salmon topped with a cold, creamy mixture of yogurt, poppy seeds, chives, shallots, red onions and white pepper. Finished with large rounds of cool English cucumber, it's possibly the most refreshing dish in the city. — BC

4. The Margarita at PineCreek (7350 Pine Creek Road,

We originally placed three different scallop plates on our short list, the others from Denver's Fruition and The Broadmoor's Charles Court. The Margarita wins out by serving theirs ($12) with caramelized fennel in Bouillabaisse jus butter sauce (a super-reduced fish broth). Two accompanying toast points are smeared with an amazing guajillo chile and roasted garlic spread. Here's a dish fit for a celebratory rendition of "Under the Sea," in tribute to all that's going on in one little bowl. — MS

3. Motif (2432 Cucharras St.,

If the American "melting pot" was to ever tip over, Motif's Kobe Brioche Sliders ($10) might be what falls out. Chef Andrew Darrigan — a native New Yorker and graduate of the French Culinary Institute — combines juicy, inch-thick ground Kobe beef with roasted tomatoes, spicy homegrown arugula, prosciutto bacon and whipped Port-Salut cheese on a dense French brioche bun baked in-house. A side of au jus accompanies the three gems, but it's almost impossible to improve this aristocratic roll that bears the soul of a prole. — BC

2. Uchenna (2501 W. Colorado Ave.,

I didn't have much experience with Ethiopian cuisine until Uchenna opened, and I've been prattling on about it ever since. Owner Maya Hetman's doro wat ($12.95) is simply stunning: super-moist chicken legs in a pasty red wine and butter sauce mixed with berbere, a spice blend that generally includes items like cumin, red pepper flakes, cardamom, fenugreek, cloves, onion, garlic, paprika, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and nutmeg. The mole-esque concoction delivers a mild heat and deep and peppery earthiness that speaks to some primal part of the body — as does eating sans utensils. — MS

1. Nosh (121 S. Tejon St.,

There's a lot on this list I'd happily down right before being executed, but Nosh's Crispy Korean Wings ($7/$13) are so good, I might order more than I could handle — just so I could will the leftovers to my kids. They're fried in a batter that includes vodka and beer, rested overnight, then flash-fried the next day. After that, chef Shane Lyons covers them in a reduced sauce of mirin, garlic, ginger, gochucang, butter, soy and Sriracha. The chef points to a stint at David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Club in New York City as inspiration; with half-off prices during Monday happy hour, the only thing worthy of capital punishment here is abstinence. — BC


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