Photos here: http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...
On my second night in Denver, I met up with my old college friend Janecke. I also emailed another college friend, Chris, but he informed me that, as the head sports photographer for the Rocky Mountain News, and this being Game One of the World Series, and with the Colorado Rockies playing in said World Series, he was kind of busy that night. Clearly I don't follow sports (!!). But I did hear that Colorado got slammed and lost the World Series.
Janecke, who has lived in Denver for a few years now, took me to a cute little neighborhood called Wash Park ("Wash" being short for Washington). Among the adorable cafes, shops and bakeries was an Asian small-plates restaurant called Izakaya Den. Since the place came highly recommended by Janecke, we went.
We ordered some wine, because I'd had sake the night before and was not feelin' it that night. The place has a very good selection of wines and sakes, plus a menu of sake cocktails to boot. We started with the Miso Japanese Eggplant, which was cooked perfectly and just kind of melted in your mouth. Very reminiscent of a childhood favorite that my mom used to make.
We also shared the crab salad, which we managed to devour before I remembered to take the photo. It was actually a panzanella salad with cubed croutons, Colorado goat cheese, fresh lump crab, spring lettuce leaves and a few pears. And it was FABULOUS. I almost felt guilty that I ate the majority of this dish, but Janecke, being a good friend and all, didn't mind. This is the kind of dish that brings out the gluttony in all of us, so maybe you should order your own if you ever go to Izakaya Den.
We then had the beef rolls and the hoison duck crostini. The beef rolls were simple but delicious: thinly sliced beef wrapped around al-dented vegetables. The duck crostini was a wonder: crispy pieces of bread topped with juicy, moist duck meat just ever-so-slightly spiced with hoison sauce and topped with crispy somethingorothers (I think it was some sort of root vegetable). Excellent.
For dessert, we shared a chocolate mousse. Normally there's nothing interesting about chocolate mousse, but this one hid a little special secret. At the base of the mousse was a thick-cut, crispy, lightly-salted potato chip. Yes, a potato chip. And you know what? It was the perfect balance to the rich, dark chocolate. I think the restaurant could take the same dish and plate it differently and make it that much better, but flavor-wise, it was all there.
So the only question left to answer is: What will I try on my next trip to Denver? If you're going to say Rocky Mountain Oysters, you can forget about it. I like almost everything, but those...I don't think I could stomach.