Colorful Colorado and beyond…
My hubby’s requested for his birthday was to try a food tasting. I guess watching Top Chef had got him thinking that there is more out there to taste than meat and potatoes.
Denver has many area restaurants that offer a Chef Tasting Menu. Of course, your meal is the chef’s choice, but usually it consist of 4-5 courses for a value price.
After much debate we finally chose to dine at Panzano at the Hotel Monaco in Downtown Denver. The atmosphere is contemporary and chic, but casual dress is fine. We started with drinks. Me, a Pama Passion and hubby a SoCo with Amaretto and Sprite. The bartender didn’t skimp on the top shelf liqueur!
The 5 course meal started with an Antipasti of Cavolini di Bruxelles (fried Brussels sprouts tossed with apple cider reduction, pistachios, rosemary salt and sliced green apples). Never in a million years would I have chosen to order Brussels sprouts, but that is the whole point of a Chef’s Tasting Menu; to taste food you would never order or make yourself. Thanks to Panzano, I am a fan of their Brussels sprouts. Delish!
The Minestre e Insalate course: Caesar Griglia (grilled hearts of romaine, anchovies, garlic, and Parmesan). I am inspired to grill my own romaine from now on. The anchovies I left untouched on the plate.
The Pasta course: We were served a variation on the Pastiche (baked pasta layered with spicy meatballs, cheese tortellini, ragu and a baked biscuit on top). The spicy should have been in bold on the menu because I couldn’t eat both meatballs; a little too spicy for me. But the sauce and tortellini were excellent.
We were served an apple gelato to cleanse the palette before moving on to course number 4. I really could have ate hubby’s portion. He just isn’t a fan of sweet stuff. Such a waste.
The Secondi course: Capesante (pan seared sea scallops with a sun-dried tomato risotto). The two things I have learned by watching Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef is: risotto is difficult to cook; and scallops are even more difficult to cook through without being over-cooked. I love risotto, but can’t cook it. It seemed to be a little under-cooked, a little chewy, but the sauce was creamy and rich. I hate the mouth-feel of scallops, that is why I always over-cook them at home. These seemed a little under cooked to me, but then again it could have been the texture I don’t like and not the scallops themselves.
The dessert course: vanilla bean crème brûlée. So rich and so good. You could even see the vanilla beans in the custard. If I hadn’t been so full from dinner, I would have finished hubby’s. Again, he’s not a fan of dessert. Whatever.
In the end, Panzano was really good and I would like to go back and try their gnocchi with rabbit confit. And, it’s always fun to have a rare date night with hubby.
Panzano Chef’s Tasting Menu, 5 courses, $55 per person.