I shared a preview of Dishcrawl in last week’s post, so I wanted to make sure my faithful readers got to hear about my experience. I received an email 48 hours in advance announcing the first stop: Jezebel’s Southern Bistro + Bar, which is a new addition to the LoHi dining scene. Since I’m not super familiar with the area, and I knew we would end up decently far away from the starting spot, I decided to cab it to Dishcrawl (major perk = more wine). I miss southern comfort food from time to time, which I came to appreciate during my one-year stint in Nashville, so was excited to see what Jezebel’s had in store. Before I get into the food, I have to mention that I was slightly intimidated walking into this social scene by myself, so I chose a seat next to someone who also appeared to be alone, ordered a Moscow Mule, and hoped for the best. Luckily, my table partner (who also happens to write the blog Laughing Lemon Pie – check it out!) proved to be the first but not the last friend I met at Denver’s inaugural Dishcrawl event. Now to the food…
Jezebel’s served up a sampler of shrimp and grits, BBQ braised pork belly, deviled eggs with bacon and cornbread. Being an admitted egg disliker, I had to pass on the deviled eggs (I know, a big no-no) but was smitten with the pork belly. It was a dish even the Hamm men would approve of (and trust me, they know a thing or two about cooking meat). We got to meet Chef Leo Harvey, who was very charismatic and, as a UGA graduate, even engaged in some friendly banter with a fellow SEC-er at our table. One of the most surprising facts I learned is that nearly everything on their menu is gluten-free, even the fried chicken. Sorry, food photos are limited since quality pics are hard to obtain in the dim light characteristic of evening dining. And did you know that some restaurateurs even frown on this? But trust me, the food at every venue was beautifully presented and equally delicious. Next up, we ventured a few blocks to Vita and soaked up the views along the way.
The first thing I noticed about Vita was the incredible rooftop patio, which they claim to be the best in Denver. I can’t wait to come back in the spring and put that theory to the test. Chef William Lavey enlightened us with his methods to prepare the house-made smoked paprika oil used in the butternut squash soup while we enjoyed salmon carpaccio with red beet puree and (my favorite!) dill, and skewered lamb belly and confit tomato over cumin creme fraiche. Dishcrawl also caters to the vegetarian crowd, who received separate but equally unique dishes. Then it was time to get our walk on again once the next location was announced: Central Bistro & Bar.
The presentation at this location really caught my eye. Beyond the kitschy decor, the team created custom menus for all of the Dishcrawlers and sent us home with bacon chocolate chip cookies, wrapped in another menu to keep as a souvenir and a card to redeem for a complimentary glass of wine on our next visit. Now that won me over! The menu by Executive Chef Gerard Strong was a little more adventurous, including chicken liver mousse and grilled baby octopus ragu. With a little coaching, I tried the liver mousse and was pleasantly surprised by the tart cherry flavor that greeted me, which I thought was a creative addition to the dish. These aren’t dishes I would typically order so it was nice to try them in this environment, but I look forward to coming back to try their standard menu, too. At this point, I should probably mention that each venue was a little different in terms of seating. At some, everyone got a table, and others some people had to stand cocktail-style due to space constraints. It wasn’t a big deal to me but something to be aware of for future Dishcrawlers! I enjoyed sitting with different people at each location, and I have a feeling many of this night’s crew will be back for next month’s adventure in LoDo (Lower Downtown for you non-Denverites). For the last stop, we ventured across the bridge to enjoy dessert at Eat + Drink Denver.
That’s right, cheese! Arguably my favorite food group (yes, it deserves its own food group). We each received our own cheese plate featuring three varieties: Leonora (goat) from Spain, Paglietin (soft cow) from Italy and Amma Blue (from Minnesota) as well as local bread, yellow tomato jam and marcona almonds. I’m thrilled that I found a place where I can find high-quality cheeses. So thrilled that I purchased my favorite variety, manchego (a sheep’s cheese I ate daily during my summer abroad in Spain), and used it in my No-Egg Baked Chicken Parmesan over the weekend. I couldn’t get over how smooth and creamy it was. Owner Pollyanna Forster detailed her travels to Spain to source the cheese and wine for her gourmet shop, and we also learned about her other food concepts in Edwards, CO. I’m crossing my fingers that CUT, her charcuterie/butcher shop, will make its way to Denver. Drinks aren’t included in the Dishcrawl ticket price, but Eat + Drink offered $5 glasses of wine to end the night and I even walked away with a free bottle of Muse Cava (Pollyanna’s signature) that I won as a door prize. Wouldn’t you want to leave Dishcrawl with all of this?
Overall, I’m so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to attend Dishcrawl, try new restaurants and form new relationships. Total Dishcrawl time was 3 hours for those of you wondering. I will definitely be signing up for another event, and thanks to the great organization of Jackie Berkery, the night went off without a hitch! If you want to read another perspective on Dishcrawl, check out her post here.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary $45 ticket to attend Dishcrawl in LoHi.