=" /> The Mile High Eater: 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Barb and I were invited out to Carrabba’s Italian Grill last night and had a pretty good time. The food was good and the atmosphere and seating arrangements made it feel more romantic than a lot of the higher end spots we have been to lately.


Looking over the menu there was of course the standard Italian restaurant fair but also a few things that I had not seen before but I will get into that a bit later. When coming in we noticed a promotion they were having where if you buy a bottle of wine with your dinner on Wednesday night, you get a free appetizer and they send whatever is left in the bottle home with you.
We were seated promptly and as we were reviewing the menus, our server Tim came over and introduced himself and pointed out a few things about the restaurant and took our drink orders. He also brought us over some bread and a plate filled with spices, he said what was all in it but all I remember was garlic, pepper, oregano but there were others.


I found that I really liked this variation on the plain olive oil or just the garlic and olive oil I have had in other places and found myself eating several pieces of bread because of it. Barbara was not as much of a fan being more of a bread purist and our server was quick to bring over some butter when I mentioned this. For a drink I ordered a Sangria which I have not had before (as I have said before neither of us drink much or often).


I really enjoyed the taste of this drink and even Barb had 2 sips which for her is a sign she liked it. For our appetizer we choose to do the Antipasti Platter.


What it included was Fried Calamari, Bruschette of the day, and Mozzarella Marinara. It came with 2 sauces which I found to be particularly good. One was a marinara sauce and the other was another red sauce that had caprino cheese added in and this I really loved. But, Barb found it to be a bit strong. One thing of note that I found out that Carrabba’s makes their sauces in house daily and you can definitely taste it. The appetizer plate was all cooked very well and tasted good but honestly it’s pretty hard to screw up fried cheese and garlic bread. However, fried calamari can easily turn into a rubber mess but theirs was well cooked and had a great texture.

For our main courses Barbara chose the Lasagna off the regular menu.


It was a very generous helping and had tons of cheese with a very tasty sauce. Barb found it to be a bit too cheesy both in flavor and in smell. I think I have mentioned before that her sense of smell is far more sensitive than mine and strong smells can really take away the enjoyment for her. As for me CHHEESSSE MMMM GOOD, yes you may call me “Wallace” I thought it was very good and to me there can never be enough gooey wonderful cheese.

For my main course, I had a tough choice there were 2 plates on special that looked great to me. The first was Seafood di Venezia. It is a duo of succulent flavors featuring Trout Nocciola and Venetian Gamberoni which are both prepared on Carrabba’s signature wood-burning grill. Trout Nocciola is a hazelnut-encrusted filet of trout, accented with julienned tomatoes and a basil-lemon butter sauce. Venetian Gamberoni is shrimp generously stuffed with fresh crab meat and drizzled with a hint of lemon butter. That is word for word from the menu. The second was Piatto di Pollo. It features two chicken dishes on one plate, Carrabba’s signature Chicken Bryan and its newest recipe, Chicken with Port Wine Sauce. Chicken Bryan is grilled chicken with fresh goat cheese, basil, sundried tomatoes and lemon butter sauce. Chicken with Port Wine Sauce is a reduction of Fairbanks Port Wine, apples and figs blended to make an aromatic and flavorful sauce. Ok, forgive me for quoting the menu verbatim but wanted you to see why the choice was hard. I decided after much back and forth to go with the Chicken.


The Chicken Bryan was good and of course for me adding cheese to anything is a winner, however the Chicken with Port Wine Sauce - now that was YUM. It is the dish that you think about afterword and want a bit more of. It tasted a little like a very good BBQ sauce with flavors that just excited the palate. Both Barb and I agreed that this dish would have been at home at any of the more expensive restaurants we had visited in the last few months. And when I make my way back to Carrabba’s if this item is still on the menu, I will be trying it again.

We were neither of us able to finish our meals as they are very generous with portions and we really wanted to try to save room for dessert. Tim boxed up our food for us and it came in a brown bag that had a saying on it that I thought was funny.


And with that in mind we asked about the desserts and what we decided on was the following fun flight of desserts.


We shared this, of course, as it was a lot of dessert but the spoon war we had dueling for the individual pieces was epic. From right to left: Chocolate Coconut Mousse with pecans very yummy had a great rich taste that made you want to dive into it. Cannoli -after the very rich moist mousse this tasted a bit dry to us but I came back after a bit and liked it a lot more tasted just like its name sake. Third was Zabaglione - another big yum to me. The best way I can describe it is it tasted like very moist strawberry shortcake. Next was Dessert Rosa. It reminded us of a Banana Crème Pie with Strawberries. Hard to beat that. Tiramisu was next and Barb was not a fan of this one really and for that I was happy as I loved it and wanted another 2 or 3, though I would have probably burst. Finally the last one was Espresso. However, to be honest I didn’t taste it at all and the flavors were so delicate that it left almost no impression on me, not that it was bad but with five other treats there, this one just didn’t do it for either of us.

All in all we had a wonderful meal at Carrabba’s and would return the next time we are in the mood for some affordable Italian fare. And for both of us we liked their dinner menu better than either one of their main competitors. This is a great place to take the family and to just enjoy a very good Italian meal with all the normal favorites and a few surprises thrown in. And just as we were leaving, the waiters sang “Happy Birthday” in Italian to a customer nearby. That was a very nice touch.

Numbers and Such. First of all the specials that I mentioned are in place through September - that’s both the food and the wine special from what I understand. The total cost of our meal was $63.00, including tip, tax etc. and we left with enough food for left over dinner the next night. The Dessert we had was $13.00 but you can break those up and the cost would be $2.50 each. Carraabba’s website is www.carrabbas.com.

As always thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions or comments please let us know.

Barb and Jonathan

A bit of a post note: In the comments for this review we have been twice asked about our rating or lack there of for this post. We did not give this a numerical score due to the fact that even though we did enjoy our meal it was plain and simple not in the same league as other places we have visited and definately not close to such great places like say Mizuna and to compare it to such would just not work at all. However we felt we should include it in here because we want to include every non fast food place we go to not just the show stoppers.
Carrabba's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mizuna Saturday Night

Mizuna Saturday Night
Barb and I headed out to Mizuna in Denver where the chef Frank Bonanno is one of Denver's premier chef's. I had heard a lot of wonderful things about this restaurant and about the chef so I was looking forward to a great meal and neither Barb nor myself were disappointed.


I was a bit worried heading out that parking may be a problem but upon arrival they provide free valet parking which is very nice as the restaurant itself is located in an area where the parking is pretty limited. Looking in from the outside Mizuna looks to be just a normal neighborhood restaurant but upon entering that all changes from the warm greeting at the door and wonderful smells wafting out to the wine bottles hung on the wall that almost seem like a piece of art in themselves. Mizuna is broken into two rooms the main room that you first enter with a semi open kitchen and a smaller room offset to the right which is where we were sat. Perhaps the only down point of this restaurant that we ran into was the tables are a bit close and you can not help but hear and be overheard as you have your conversations. The night we went the air condition was out in the area where we were seated so it was a bit warm but not to terribly hot.

The menu at Mizuna changes monthly to take advantage of the freshest ingredients and everything on it looked tempting. They do however offer a tasting menu and Barb and I both love that experience, so off we went. They started us out with bread - both a white and an olive.


They were very fresh and soft inside with a nice crisp crust. Three different butters were included an herb, a honey, and a sea salt butter. I really enjoyed the herb and especially the honey but the salted butted was a bit much, especially when paired with the olive bread.

Next was our first course and this we both liked very much as what they did was a bit unique they brought out a plate with 5 different items each about a bite or 2 each.


I am going to work from right to left on the descriptions of these. 1a. Himachi with radish and a chip underneath. This had a nice citrus flavor and the combined texture of the soft Himachi and the crispy chip was a definite pleaser. 1b. A Lobster Bisque shooter. This was served warm with a wonderfully rich lobster taste and a bit of a spicy kick you felt at the end, and as an extra a nice chunk of lobster on the bottom. 1c. Bison Tartar. This had a nice texture and a fine taste but really did not leave an impression at all. 1d. Lamb with goat cheese and olive on a soft cracker. Barbara really enjoyed this and I thought it was pretty good the flavors were bold and rich but the olive for me threw it off a bit. 1.e. Shrimp wrapped in pancetta this was my favorite of the five the shrimp was very well cooked and the wrapping just added to the great flavor, Barb however has a strong dislike for anything that is "chewy" and this felt a bit chewy for her though she did enjoy the taste of it.

Our Next course out was Heirloom Tomato Soup and on the side Dungeness Crab with Caviar on Pumpernickel bread.


The heirloom tomato soup was YUM YUMMM. Ok, I know there goes the "yum" thing again and be prepared for more later, but it just fits. I am used to tomato soup being very rich with milk and cream and served hot on a winter’s day so when this came out on a hot Saturday night I was not very excited to see it, but then I tasted it. I am not sure how best to describe it but to me it truly tasted like I had just bitten into a garden fresh tomato. The flavors were spot on and it was served cool - I of course ate ever last bit of it. Barb was not as big of a fan as she does enjoy a hot soup more than a cool one but both of us agreed the flavors were great. The crab on the pumpernickel Barb loved. It had a nice crab taste and the pumpernickel just added the little bit of offset to make it very memorable.

Our next course was a house made Carrabelle Pasta with Rabbit and Fava beans. I have to get this over with before I go any further "OMG YUM!"


Barb and I have been to some pretty good restaurants in the last year or so and up till tonight the best rabbit we have had was at restaurant Daniel in NYC but this my friends beat it and by a decent margin I would say. From the incredible savory rich sauce to the well made noodles and the crisp fava beans this dish was a home run and the only 10 we have given a dish here in Colorado.

Our next course was Bass with Celery Risotto. The green sauce you see is a Green Onion Vinaigrette. And the fish was topped with morel mushrooms.


The fish was cooked beautifully, a crispy skin with the inside being very flaky. The taste was very good and not very fishy at all and the vinaigrette added a nice overall flavor with the risotto adding another fresh tasting flavor. This combined very well with the overall dish.

Next came a Honeydew Melon Sorbet with a Honey Dew Melon Spritzer.


Normally I find sorbet courses in general to be a bit blah but this had a fantastic taste that made you feel it was frozen honeydew melon not just an ice with honey dew flavors and the spritzer was very refreshing with the taste of the melon lingering on your tongue.

Next came Duck with a Duck Confit Risotto and a Foie Gras reduction served with grilled figs.


The duck was perfectly cooked and the flavors were rich and deep. The risotto was some of the best I have had and the figs just added a slight raisin flavor that instead of competing with the duck enhanced it. Barbara found the meat to be a bit chewy but liked the duck comfit alot.

We then went on to deserts. We were both given different ones - the first one was a Warm Valahona Chocolate Cake with Macadamia nut brittle and Malted Ice Cream.


This was very nioe a deep rich chocolate taste with a gooey warm center and with the ice cream and brittle - just a treat of taste and texture.

The next desert was a Banana Cream Pie with Bananna Mousse and Spiced Rum Caramel.


This was good, but nothing to write home about. I did enjoy it as I always have a thing for banana creame pie anyway but not as wonderful as the chocolate cake.

At the end of the meal we were handed 2 fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies that the chef made. They smelled delicious, but they were breakfast the next morning as we were bursting at the seams!

That was a very good meal and the best we have had in Colorado at this point. The service was spot on, without seeming to hover. Everything was well prepared and tasted wonderful. The only downsides as I mentioned before is that the tables are a bit close together and with the A/C down in the area where we were seated it did detract a bit. As far as what we rated it, the overall score was a 8.5 which is just fantastic. All the food was good, most very good and in one instance (the Rabbit and Pasta) the best we have had. We would highly recommend Mizuna!

Info and Numbers

Mizuna restaurant website is at http://www.mizunadenver.com/ and the chef as we mentioned before is Frank Bonanno. He also is the chef for Luca D'Italia and we both hope to be fortunate enough to eat there someday. You can get reservations on open table but do remember they are closed Sunday and Monday. The tasting menu is $85 per person, tax not included and the total cost of our meal was $220.00 when you add on the tip.

Thank you again for stopping by and if you have any questions about the places we have dined or have suggestions or just want to chat drop us a line anytime.
Mizuna on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Hi all!

Barb and I went out to Terroir in Longmont last night and had a very nice dinner. The chef there is Timothy Payne.

Coming into the restaurant had a very nice open feel the tables were placed far enough away from each other to not feel crowded and overall just a very comfortable feel. The room also has bar seating running down one side and in the back. The kitchen is half open so you can watch them working to create the wonderful food you're about to be served. When we arrived we were greeted and promptly seated and asked about our drink preferences, when the drinks arrived our server told us about one menu subsitition (flank steak instead of hanger steak) but forgot to tell us what the soup de jour was. We had to hear that when she greeted another table, but that was the one and only service problem we had and that was such a minor thing. Before the small plates came out we were served some very fresh focaccia bread that was wonderfully soft and had a very pleasing taste.

The menu they have changes often and looked very good over all. We started out with 2 small plates.

The first one was a Gnocchi (a potato dumpling pasta) with golden west sugar snap peas and garlic. The sauce had a wonderful slightly sweet taste with a hint of citrus. The peas were perfectly cooked they still had the nice crisp freshness that I just love. The longer this sat the better it became as the gnocchi soaked up some of the sauce and the creamy rich texture of the gnocchi was just fantastic.


The second was Gambas-Ai-Ajillo. Chili and white wine sauteed shrimp with 2 pieces of that wonderful focaccia bread that had been grilled. The sauce was very rich and had a definte buttery taste but the wine and the chili really came through and blended so well that we both ended up using the bread to help soak up some of it just to enjoy more of it. I am not much into having spice just to add heat so am always cautious of sauces or items that have chile and the like but this sauce was just fantastic and the little bit of heat it did give felt very pleasant and didnt send me running for water.

Next came our main courses.

The first was Grilled Flank Steak with a crispy potato cake, heirloom tomatoes and a chimchurri sauce. The steak was cooked pretty well but in my opinion even though the sauce was good it really took over the dish. The bold herb and vinager taste jumped out and grabbed your taste buds as soon as you put it in your mouth and was strong enough that the meat really didnt have room to have much flavor. That being said the sauce was very good with the parsley sweetening up the vinager and blending into a nice strong taste. A second problem I had with this dish was the first few pieces I had were fairly chewy and tough. Now I know flank steak is a very lean cut of meat but when served in a restaurant I do expect it not to take 5 min to chew down. Luckly after the first couple pieces the rest were fine and the potato cake had a nice texture and a satisfying taste. Overall I did enjoy the total package of the dish.


The second dish was a Pork Loin Chop. Long farm pork with a potato (both normal and sweet) hash with tochey farms greens and a great peach compote. Ok YUM (yes I am back to the yum word again, lol) The peach compote was just fantastic. The sweet flavors of the peached blended in so very well with this very tender perfectly cooked pork chop that Barb almost had to fork duel me for it. The presentation looked great and the hash had a great flavor this was defintly our favorite of the evening.

Next came deserts and they had several options the first one we had was:


A Vanilla Creme Brulee. This was well done with a nice fresh vanilla taste and a nice crispy top.

The next:


Was a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with a scoop of strawberry ice cream. Before I go further I must admit to being a Rhubarb crisp snob so maybe should of gotten something else. This desert had a very strong strawberry smell that hit you right before you took a bite and really strawberry was the main focus as I could taste very little of the rhubarb and there was also little crisp. I am not saying this was bad it had a nice strawberry taste that pleased the taste buds and lol not a bit was left over when we were done, but it was lacking in the rhubarb and crisp area.

Overall, I would reccomend Terroir. The atmosphere is comfortable and the food well thought out and executed and I am pretty sure we will be going back the next time we want to go out with friends in the Longmont area and for me going back to a restaurant a second time is the mark of a good restaurant. What we rated the restaurant overall was a 7.3 before the .1 decuction for the soup of day missfire. so a 7.2 overall. If this sounds low at all given my mostly overall praise please look at our rating system explanation a few posts back. Basicly it comes to this a 7.2 is a pretty darn good rating while nothing we had made me go OMG thats just incredible two of the items I would say were great and everything is very good. The cost for the meal was $73.

Well thats it for now as always thanks for coming by and if have any questions or suggestions, please let us know.

Jonathan & Barb

Terroir on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bald Pate Inn


Hi all,

I've decided to add a restaurant we really like but is much more casual than what I have put up here in the past. The restaurant is called the Bald Pate Inn and it is up above Estes Park, Colorado. It is a Bed and Breakfast that is celebrating its 92nd year this year and it is by far one of my favorite places to go for lunch or dinner when we are up in Estes. The restaurant itself is showing it's years a bit but that really is part of its charm and the view from the dining room is just amazing looking down from it's perch above the Estes Valley.

The menu is just soup and salads with some great desserts to finish it up. They normally have 2 soups to choose from and these are both very hearty and made on the premises, some of the choices we have seen are white chili, chili, vegetable, vegetable beef and chicken and each and everyone of them are so very good and filing with large chunks of meat and vegetables it just puts a smile on your face and a sigh to the belly! To go along with the soup they have a great salad bar filled with tons of fresh ingredients and normally 2 specialty salads also made fresh there. We have seen many varieties here from apple walnut to a pasta salad. The final bit they have is fresh made bread and muffins and these are always my doom with the taste and the freshness just making me eat that extra bite then one more. They also have some very good tasting desserts but even more than your standard restaurant I seldom have the room to try it out!

The Bald pate is normally open from May- October and while reservations are not required they are strongly suggested. If you are heading up there for more than just a day trip, the Bald Pate also offers cabins and rooms to rent which all seem very cozy but the real reason to stay here is the view and it’s out of the way location. I am not going to rate this place on our standard scale as it is more casual but we try to make it up there 2 or 3 times a year and in a world with so many options that is a large compliment in itself! The Bald Pates website is http://www.baldpateinn.com/ and it is located at 4900 South Hwy. 7 Estes Park, CO 80517 with a phone number of 970-586-6151.

Thanks again for stopping by and if have any questions or suggestions please let us know.