Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tastecasting :: Dusty Boot

Tuesday night we went to a newer restaurant called the Dusty Boot. It has a few locations in the mountains and just opened a few more in the front range. The funny thing about this place is that we found out that the owners also run another restaurant in which we visit whenever we are coming back from a hike in the Evergreen area called The Whippletree.

***TasteCasting Special***
Mention TasteCasting and recieve 25% off your bill!

The Boot Appetizer Platter ($16.95)
Mike:: The platter was pretty good. The onion rings were really wide pieces so you get a lot of onion in each bite. The beef tips were excellent with really good garlic flavor. The friend mac & cheese wedges were pretty tasty and the potato skins were standard.
Leigh:: I agree with Mike, standard potato skins, a little too much potato left in the skin for me (I like all the cheesy bacon goodness with just the crunch of the potato skin) but good. The steak tips with chimichuri was great! I fell in love with chimichuri at a friends Miami wedding last year and was excited to have it again - very, very flavorful. I love mac n' cheese but am not a big fan of friend mac n' cheese. The onion rings were pretty standard, served with a chipotle aioli that I surprisingly really liked.

Green Chili (award winning $4.95/cup or $5.95/bowl)
Mike:: This was one of the best things that I tasted tonight. It had an awesome green chili flavor and had a little kick (it was pretty hot to some of the other tasters.)

Leigh :: too spicy for me.

Shrimp Taco ($10.95/2 tacos or $12.95 for 3)
Mike:: This was pretty good. The chipotle sauce made this one pretty messy when trying to eat, but it also lends a great smoky flavor.
Leigh:: these were a little too spicy for me (drenched in chipotle sauce) but good flavor.

Fish Taco ($9.95/2 tacos or $11.95 for 3)
Mike:: This taco was a lot easier to eat as far as staying together. It had a clean taste and a good combination of flavors.
Leigh:: these were too spicy for me. I had one bite and the fish seems mild but the spicy chipotle aioli was really overpowering (for me).

Fat Burger ($9.75)

Fat Tire BBQ sauce, bacon, bleu cheese and beer battered onion rings

Mike:: This burger was very good. The best thing about this burger was the Fat Tire BBQ sauce. It was a perfect balance of tangy and sweet.
Leigh:: really good burger - sweet and tangy with a good crunch from the beer battered onion rings on top.

Turkey Gorgonzola Melt ($8.95)

Thinly sliced turkey breast topped with gorgonzola, red onion, walnuts and raspberry sauce on ciabatta bread

Mike:: this was pretty good. It had a lot of good flavor from the raspberry sauce and the walnuts.
Leigh:: I would have liked a bigger sample of this one. I love turkey and raspberry sauce combination and this is a sandwich I would have ordered.

Asian Chicken Wrap ($8.75)

Flour tortilla with grilled chicken, shredded Napa cabbage, dikon radish, carrots and red cabbage with sesame coconut honey mustard dressing

Mike:: the sesame honey coconut dressing that covered this was very good. it had a good balance of sweetness and tartness.

Leigh:: this wrap had an interesting flavor. The crunch of the cabbage was really nice but the sesame coconut honey mustard dressing was a little strong.

Tuesday Night Special All you can eat Chicken and Ribs ($16.95 all you can eat - Tuesdays)
BBQ Pork Ribs ($19.95/full rack or $13.95 half rack)
Mike:: We did not try the chicken, but the ribs were fall off the bone delicious! The fat tire bbq sauce was an awesome addition to these babies.
Leigh:: The ribs were great! sweet, tangy fall off the bone goodness. I think we'll definitely be back for the ribs alone!

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich ($7.95/serves 2+)

Two oversized chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream and covered with chocolate sauce

Mike:: this thing was good, but very heavy. the cookie added a good crunch to the dessert.

Leigh:: very good but much bigger then 2 people could eat after a full meal. The cookie was a little crunchy.

Cowboy Cake ($8.95/serves 2+)

Glazed donuts baked in brownie mix topped with phyllo dough, vanilla ice cream and candy sprinkles
Mike:: this dessert was sweet to say the least. this one is definitely for the sweet tooth in the family.

Leigh:: holy cow! sugar overload of flavors on this one. A couple bites was all I could take of this one but I know some serious sweet-tooths that would love it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TasteCasting :: Fat Sully's

Yum. Yum. Yum. Tonight's TasteCasting at Fat Sully's was awesome. We both love a good (really good) New York pizza and we found it here tonight.

***TasteCasting Special***
$2 off any large 1-topping pizza.

The crust. The dough is made here daily by the guy below. He is a dough genius, creating that perfect crispy, chewy fold-it-in-half-to-eat-it crust. Fat Sully's crust is perfect (which is why I am sitting here now, completely overstuffed - I couldn't stop eating it).

Neapolitan Pizza ($11.95 for 12"/$16.95 for 20")
Mike:: This was about as "New York" as it gets...not in New York. This pizza was amazing. It had a perfect crunch on the outside with a chewy inside. The sauce was great, and the granulated garlic on the table made this irresistible.
Leigh:: I really loved this pizza. With a good New York style, this is the way I like it - no toppings to get in the way of the fresh tasting sauce, melty cheese and perfect crust. perfection.

the slice are huge! this piece makes a standard paper plate look tiny.

White Pizza ($12.95 for 12"/$17.95 for 20")
Mike:: Very earthy. The toppings included basil, tomatoes, and ricotta cheese. This pizza or "za" as they call it at Fat Sully's was incredible.
Leigh:: I'm normally a big fan of white pizza (when I'm not in the mood for traditional red) but this one had a lot of pepper in it and that threw me off of the creamy ricotta flavor I look forward to. Also, the addition of fresh tomatoes and basil to the top was a very nice, earthy touch.

Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza ($14.95 for 12"/$21.95 for 20")
Mike:: Carnivore's dream. I am usually not much of a sausage person on pizza, but I will be the first to admit this was the best sausage I have ever tasted on a pizza. The pepperoni added a little spice to the mix.
Leigh:: I'm not normally a fan of pepperoni or sausage but both on this pizza were very good. Again, they seemed very fresh and flavorful - not the typical processed flavor of these meats on other pizzas.

Hawaiian Pizza (half with jalapeños. half without)
Mike:: Of course I went with Jalapenos because I have never had them on a Hawaiian pizza before. I must say that I am sold. The jalapenos added a good spice that was mellowed out by the Canadian bacon and pineapple.
Leigh:: This was good. I opted for the traditional Hawaiian side and enjoyed it. I usually order pineapple as my topping of choice on non-New York style pizza.

Nutella Calzone ($7.95)
Mike:: Pretty much just imagine a pirouline cookie with molten hot innards and a warm cookie. It was great. The nutella was in great company with a healthy dousing of powdered sugar.
Leigh:: What a unique dessert idea! The hazelnut in the Nutella coupled with the fresh, so good dough was a really sweet treat for the end of the meal.

Monday, June 29, 2009

TasteCasting :: Lovely Confections

Yesterday we were treated to a TasteCasting at Lovely Confections off of Colfax and Steele Street in Denver. This sweet little shop specializes in cupcakes by owner and baker Porsche Lovely. Most of the ingredients used are organic and local and you can tell. Everything is very, very fresh tasting, no hint of artificial anything here.

***TasteCasting Special***
Buy One, Get One Free - any chocolate or vanilla cupcake through July 20th

The case was full of tempting treats - carrot cake, strawberries and cream and berry limeade looked especially yummy!

Love has won a number of local awards including Westword Best of Denver 08 "Best Conscientious Cupcakes", ABC 7's A*List Award for the Best Bakery, Westword Best of Denver 09 "Reader's Choice - Best Bakery"

Our tasting was made up of four mini cupcakes ($1.5 each) and a frosting shot. At first, I was a little disappointed that we didn't have any of the regular size cupcakes ($3 each) but these cupcakes we so sweet, rich and full of flavor that the mini ones were more then enough.

Vanilla Cupcake (buttery cake with vanilla bean buttercream frosting)
Leigh:: I think the vanilla bean cake was my favorite. I love the strong hint of vanilla in the cake - not just a "white" cake with little to no real flavor.
Mike:: I really liked this one too. The vanilla flavor was excellent. It had no hints of being artificial.

Chocolate Cupcake (a fudgy decadent treat rolled in imported French chocolate sprinkles)
Leigh:: This cupcake was SO rich! It was a chocoholics dream! The cake had a light chocolate flavor coupled with rich, dark chocolate frosting. I really enjoyed the square sprinkles on this one too.
Mike:: This one was definitely not to be consumed in large quantities...unless you wanted to go on chocolate overload. It was very tasty and seemed to be one of the favorites of the day amongst many of the tasters.

Lemon Cupcake (fresh grated organic lemon zest and organic lemon bits folded in)
Leigh:: This one disappointed me a little bit. It was good but a very sweet lemon flavor. I would have liked a little more tartness, that good lemon zing was missing.
Mike:: This one needed to have a little more tartness to even out the very sweet frosting. I thought it tasted really good, but would have liked to have the sour even out the sweet a bit more.

Red Velvet Cupcake (red velvet with cream cheese frosting)
Leigh:: the cream cheese icing was very, very sweet. I think my mom would have loved it! The red velvet cake was good, but I didn't taste much of the red velvet cocoa taste.
Mike:: This one was pretty good too. The icing was a little overpowering in the sweet department for me...but to each their own.

Strawberry Frosting Shot ($1)
Leigh:: This was really interesting - they sell frosting shots which isn't necessarily my thing but the strawberry frosting was really quite good. It reminded me of fresh, homemade strawberry ice cream (my personal favorite ice cream). It was definitely made with real strawberries - I can only imagine how good it would taste as part of the Strawberries & Cream cupcake.
Mike:: WOW!!! For those of you who find yourself trying to find the plate that has minimal cake and a huge chunk of frosting, this is the treat for you. Bypass the cake and get a straight up frosting shot. The strawberry was very tasty, and like Leigh said it would probably pretty much be amazing on a cupcake.

Overall Thoughts
Leigh:: I really enjoyed each of the cakes. The flavors were great and the cake had a good "crust on the outside with soft, moist inside. The frosting was a little too sweet and rich for my taste (but this is a girl who doesn't like cotton candy or anything super sweet). I love the cupcake wrappers they use. The have a little ledge around the top that makes unwrapping the cupcake much easier. And I love all the sprinkles they use!
Mike:: I think that the cupcakes were very tasty. Pretty sweet for me, but some people think the sweeter the better, and if so, this is the place for you. Everything was very natural tasting and had great clean flavors. I could have eaten the cakes alone all day long, especially the vanilla cake.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

TasteCasting :: Via Baci

Via Baci is south of Denver in Lone Tree - I was really excited to find a great new spot in our new stomping ground!

***TasteCasting Specials***
Just mention “TasteCasting” and use one of these specials:
- Lunch/Dinner Offer: Buy One Pizza or Pasta, Get One Free.
- Lunch Offer: $5 off with any $20 purchase. Valid M - F before 4pm
- Dinner Offer: Free Appetizer or Dessert with the purchase of two entrees. Valid after 5pm

Mike couldn't make this TasteCasting, so unfortunately you only get one point of view this time.
I was a little late and did not get photos of the first few dishes before they were devoured but thankfully I did get to try the Burrata. I found and borrowed someone else's photo :
This amazing dish is fresh mozzarella (that they make in house every morning) filled with creamy ricotta and served with baci herb bread. It is fantastic! (being the comfort food lover that I am, mozzarella and ricotta are two of my all time favorites so maybe I'm biased but I thought this dish was heavenly).

Tuna Salad ($12.99)
Leigh:: This salad was good, not one I would order (Mike would love it) but I liked it. It had a heavy olive flavor which I generally am not a fan of.

Prosciutto E Rucola Pizza ($13.49)
Leigh:: This one also was good, but not a favorite. I generally like a more simple pizza where I can really taste the sauce, cheese and spices. The toppings on this pizza were large and made taking a graceful bite a bit cumbersome. The arugula gave the pizza a very earthy taste and the tomato sauce (made purely of sea salt and crushed tomatoes grown in the Vesuvius Valley) was very fresh and tangy.

Chicken Bianco Pizza ($13.49)
Leigh:: I really liked this one. It had great pesto flavor and a good variety of oven roasted chicken, house-made mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes (some of my favorite things!). The only note on this dish is that it is sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes (not listed in the ingredients on the menu) which gave it an unexpected kick. I would order this again but ask them to leave the pepper flakes off.

Pumpkin Ravioli ($14.49)
Leigh:: This dish was very good but quite sweet. The pistachios on top and the rich brown butter sauce provide a nice contrast to the sweet pumpkin filling.

Bolognese ($11.99)
Leigh:: Via Baci makes all their pasta fresh in house and it shows with the wide pasta in this dish. The tomato sauce is the same that they use on the pizza (made from the Vesuvius Valley tomatoes) and is quite good.

Lemoncello Proseco Float ($5.99)
Leigh:: I'm not a drinker but this was quite good. The alcohol content was pretty strong but the lemon flavor was great. Very refreshing end to a meal it that's your sort of thing.

Classic Tiramasu ($4.99)
Leigh:: This dessert (as it should) had strong espresso flavor - it was a good, classic tiramasu. Rich. Velvety. Indulgent. I loved the touch of raspberry sauce that accompanied the dessert. I'm not sure that I've ever had that combination before but I really liked the berry flavor with the espresso.

Via Baci is a little more expensive then we would usually venture for an any night meal but they also have some great specials to make your experience an even better deal! I signed up for their Postcard Club and received a coupon for $10 off my next meal just for signing up! Also, they offer:
2 for 1 Pizza - Monday nights after 5pm (dine in only with the purchase of 2 beverages)
$40 Family Meal - Saturdays, 1 salad, 2 pizzas, 2 drinks and 2 bambino meals
Kids Eat Free - Sundays, 2 kids per paying adult, 9 & under
50% Off Wine - Tuesdays and Thursdays all day
Appetite Stimulus Menu - Monday through Thursday for lunch

Tavola for Two? - Saturday Night, a 3-course dinner for two. Only $52.80 and includes a bottle of wine!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vine Street Pub & ???

The Mountain Sun & Brewery in Boulder has been one of our favorite places to go to eat after a long, strenuous hike. We were very excited to hear that they were opening another location at 17th and Vine St. in Denver. The Denver location (Vine Street Pub & ???) has been open for just over a year now, and is just as delicious as the original two in Boulder! We decided that now that we have this food blog, it would be as good as time to give it a formal review.

Jalapeño & Avocado Soup ($2.25/cup)
Mike:: this soup sounded like it was right up my alley. It tasted very good, as it had smokey taste along with a slight bite from the jalapeño.

Nachos (this is the 1/2 order $6.75, full order $8.75)
Mike:: these things are amazing!! all kinds of goodies cover them: corn, black beans, cheese, diced jalapeños, and sour cream. you can also add sliced chicken
Leigh:: These nachos are really really good. Very simple, but very good. The only problem is that when we get them, I can't finish my burger.

Mushroom/Onion Swiss Burger ($6.75+roasted garlic mayo)
Leigh:: Since I don't need the bacon on my burger, I go for this version of the Junk Burger. The meat itself has so much flavor (all-natural, vegetarian-fed, Colorado beef) and the sautéed mushrooms and onions accompany it perfectly. Adding the roasted garlic mayo to any of their burgers is a must! It's outstanding. I usually opt to not sub fries to save a buck (and then steal a few of Mike's).

The Junk Burger ($7.95+extras)
Mike:: the best burger I've ever tasted...the "Junk Burger." This baby comes loaded with bacon, your choice of cheese (I go with pepper jack), sauteed mushrooms, onions, tomato, lettuce, and a roasted garlic mayo. I also choose to add diced jalapeños and get it cooked medium rare. Amazingly, even with all of the stuff on it, you can still taste the perfect flavor from the 1/3 pound beef patty! I also substitute fries (for $1) instead of the chips that come with it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TasteCasting :: Rialto Cafe

Round 2 of TasteCasting took us to Downtown Denver on the 16th Street Mall. We dined at the Rialto Cafe. Modeled after a 1940's art deco supper house, this place was very inviting. The staff was very courteous and the owner came out and talked to us about the history of the restaurant as well as everything we were going to be trying.

***TasteCasting Specials***
Just mention “TasteCasting Special” and receive one of these specials when you Dine before 5pm:
get 15% off your total bill
or $10 off a bottle of wine.
valid Monday-Sunday, expires on 7/15/09

We started off with 3 or the most popular appetizers: chicken empanadas($7), bruschetta($7), and calamari($10).
:: leigh :: The bruschetta was really tasty, I loved the balsamic reduction that marries all the other flavors. The bread was a little soggy underneath but they began the tasting as soon as we sat down, so they might have sat for a little while before they arrived to us. The calamari was tempura battered giving it a different, more of an Asain feel then the normal fried calamari. The garlic herb aioli was really lovely. The chicken empanada was a really good meld of flavor.
:: Mike :: the bruschetta was very flavorful and tasted great, however the bread was a little mushy underneath all of the topping (might have been pre-made to expedite the tasting.) the calamari was very good and had a kind of Asian flair to it. the tempura was very light and did not overpower the squid. the chicken empanadas were fantastic and had a good bell pepper flavor.

Warm Roasted Chicken Salad ($12) - the tasting size pictured, entree portion is huge.
:: leigh :: this salad was really tasty. the dressing - wow! the flavor pops from the first bite. I wasn't that big of a fan of the cornbread croutons (a little too sweet for my salad taste) but the salad on the whole was really pretty awesome.
:: Mike :: this salad was awesome. the chicken was very tender and was shredded. it was topped with many goodies like dried fruits and toasted walnuts. it was dressed with a very delicate apple cider vinaigrette and corn bread croutons (these were different than any crouton I have ever had.)

Baby Spinach Salad ($9) - the tasting size pictured, entree portion is huge.
:: leigh :: this salad was also good (but did not compare to the warm chicken salad). The flavor profile was very light, the vinaigrette was a little oily for my taste but everything together in one bite provided good salty flavor (the egg counters the oily).
:: Mike :: the salad was also very tasty. it included hard boiled eggs, gorgonzola cheese, marinated red and yellow beets, and tempura artichokes (superb!)

Skillet Corn Bread (complimentary)
:: leigh :: this cornbread has a very good cinnamon undertone and is quite smooth for a cornbread, not mealy like others I've had. The brown sugar and cornflake crust topping is very sweet, like a dessert baked good.
:: Mike :: this was very sweet and had a brown sugar and corn flake crust, baked fresh and brought out in a hot/warm skillet.

Dinner Sampler clockwise from bottom right: Grilled Ahi Tuna, Gorgonzola Canneloni, Filet Mignon, Braised Short Ribs, and Salmon.

Grilled Ahi Tuna ($26)*
:: leigh :: I was surprised that I liked the wasabi whipped potatoes - they had good flavor and were not too spicy for me to enjoy. the Asian vegetable slaw was too strong for my palette.
:: Mike :: this was my favorite, the tuna was seared perfectly and had lots of flavor. the wasabi whipped potatoes were excellent and the Asian vegetable slaw had a great clean flavor.

Gorgonzola Cannelloni ($13)
:: leigh :: the flavor of the Gorgonzola cannelloni was much stronger then a ricotta filled pasta but I found it very good. It is also gooeyer then ricotta filled - I'm not sure I could eat an entire entree of this pasta but the tasting was quite good.
:: Mike :: this dish was not my favorite of the bunch. i like filled pastas, but i did not care for the Gorgonzola filling as i am more used to ricotta fillings. it was very creamy and had a good texture and lots of flavor.

Filet Mignon ($21)
:: leigh :: my filet was pretty rare and very tender, I would have liked a little more of the red wine demi sauce that accompanied the meat.
:: Mike :: the filet was very very tender and cooked perfectly. it was seasoned well and the mashed potatoes that accompanied it were delicious.

Braised Short Ribs ($16)*
:: leigh :: This was my surprise favorite! I would not normally order short ribs (I doubt I ever have) but the tender meat and sweet pancetta-raisin compote that accompanied it were so delicious!
:: Mike :: the short ribs also had really good flavor. i think that another perfect application for this style and flavor of meat is within a pot roast including potatoes, carrots, and other veggies.

Seared Salmon ($19)
:: leigh :: the wheatberry pilaf that accompanied the salmon I found to be a little to soft. The salmon was good but I'm spoiled by Mike's salmon - others just don't compare. I did really like the dried cranberries that accompanied the fish and would like to work that into our own salmon dishes.
:: Mike :: the salmon was pretty good as well. i would never order salmon in a restaurant just because i love to make my own salmon and would rather try other things off of a menu. However, the brown butter was excellent and this is usually crusted with pistachios but the owner said that they were left off (i did not hear the reason why.)

Dessert Sampler (any single dessert $3, sampler of three $9)
:: leigh :: the praline pound cake was really delicious, It had strong almond undertones and tasted like great wedding cake, I loved the nutty crunch on top. The chocolate mousse with biscotti was really, really good - the biscotti was a soft biscotti with nice sweet flavor. The cheesecake bites were not my favorite, but I'm not a fan of fried foods. The chocolate espresso tiarmisu was very, very strong, a little to strong for my taste. The rainbow melon "sorbet" was fabulous - frozen pulverized melon that tasted so refreshingly of summer.
:: Mike :: the dessert that they let us try were clockwise from bottom: praline pound cake, melon trio? (not on menu), cheesecake bites, tiarmisu (not on menu), and in the center, chocolate mousse with biscotti. the Melon Trio was amazing! cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon pureed up and frozen then put side by side...very refreshing. the tiramisu is made in NYC and shipped, and i think while it is in route the alcohol is multiplying as it was still very prevalent.