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Denver: Around the World While Standing Still in the Mile High City

by  Jeanine Lewis on April 30, 2012
Denver: Around the World While Standing Still in the Mile High City

Linger
2030 W. 30th Avenue
Denver, CO  80211
303-933-3120
www.lingerdenver.com

Price: $$

Denver is not just a business stop over, but surprisingly a foodie city. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Denver for pleasure rather than for business and I was impressed with the city's culinary artistry. My preconceived notion of food in Colorado would be beef and great barbeque. While I certainly found that to be true, what I didn't expect to find was excellent oysters, sweet and savory Moroccan bastilla, and a Chinese pork bao dish all in one place. The highlight of my trip was my world tour of food at Linger restaurant near Denver's active downtown.

It was a challenge getting reservations, so I would suggest planning ahead because this is a red-hot restaurant. My restaurant choice and early planning proved to be quite worth it even before I entered the doors. The free valet service was a necessary luxury for the location. There was a couple ahead of us that didn't have a reservation and the lovely hostess graciously informed them that they would have to wait about 2 hours. Shockingly, the woman replied "Ok, we will wait." That is when I knew I was ready to eat. The décor is a merger of modern and industrial chic in an open loft-style space with the best views of the skyline in the city. The large restored 6,500 square-foot historic space is well used with private dining, upstairs bar, and a rooftop deck in addition to its main dining room.

After being seated, we were greeted warmly by our server with complimentary barbeque powered popcorn and an impressive menu. Chefs Justin Cucci and Daniel Asher went on a continent hoping trip to experience indigenous dishes from around the world. "We felt Denver was ready for diverse plates," Asher replied when I complimented his complex menu. It reflects a farmer's market sensibility with an emphasis on vegetarian dishes. When I was referred to this restaurant by a co-worker, I looked up the menu on the website, and my favorite dishes from the Middle East, South East Asia, Africa, and European specialties were present and accounted for. My goal was to have at least one dish from each region.

For the appetizer under Americas section, I had the mussels with garlic, thyme, celery, mustard, maple drizzle, and grilled cheddar-jalapeno bread pair with red sangria. I could have had this as a main course due to its size and heartiness. The grain mustard and maple drizzle gave it a tangy and sweet innovative flavor that evoked conversation on the choices of spices. Since it was so good, the conversation commenced after I finished the dish. Staying with the Americas section, the Wagyu burger sliders with organic waffle sweet potato fries were delectable and perfectly cooked at medium as requested. The chipotle ketchup complimented both the burger and the fries. Moving away from the Americas and into Africa, Asher's recommendation of chicken b'stilla was my favorite dish of the night. It was classically sweet and savory with an untraditional construction. The fresh romaine lettuce with a spicy vinaigrette dressing elevated this traditionally Moroccan dish to a new level of excellence.  From Asia, we had the pork bao dish which is steamed buns filled with barbequed pork. It was soft and elegantly prepared. It is clear the food presentation is of high importance to the chef.

To the close the meal, I did something I have never done before. Instead of a dessert wine to compliment my reflections of the meal, I had a beer. Seeing as Denver is often referred to as the Napa Valley of Beer, I had a delicious milk stout called Left Hand from Longmont, Colo.  With a visual look of Guinness and the taste of a mocha latte, it was creamy and chocolaty. This one selection motivated me to get educated on the artistry of beer. The [foam] head of this particular stout was similar to what you would find on a cappuccino for java lovers and would be paradise in a glass for the chocolate enthusiast. Unlike other beers I have tried, there was no aftertaste with Left Hand. It would make even the most devote wineaux an avid beer drinker.  I was too stuffed for dessert, but Linger does have an in-house pastry chef. Next time, I will just go for dessert with one requirement, it has to be a brilliant pairing to my new favorite beer!

Linger has something for every palate. With its gluten-free and vegan dishes, it is sure to please any patron. Even if I come to Denver on business, I will book my flight and make my reservations to visit again on the same day to ensure I won't miss out on a truly original culinary experience.

Photo credit: Tara Polly and June Cochran

Price Scale: $ = under $25     $$ = $25 - $50     $$$ - $50 - $75     $$$$ - $75 and up
Scale is based on a 3-course meal per person.

Jeanine Lewis

Jeanine Lewis

Jeanine Lewis is a renaissance freelance writer. As an alumna of University of Washington, she has been published in a variety of subject matters. full bio

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