Friday

Pasta Jay's at Lone Tree

Beating the rush is an excellent endeavor, and generally well worth it! It's a grueling pain to wait in line as your stomach rumbles and you see countless others eating away. We were thus so privileged when we arrived at Pasta Jay's in Lone Tree. We arrived quarter after 5 to a "calm" Italian restaurant but left a bustling scene with a line of people waiting for food.

Another advantage of showing up early is their daily happy hour in which many of their scrumptious meals are half the price! Always a good thing. We sat down to a red and white checkered cloth and under an arch of brick, feeling as though we were no longer in a Denver suburb. Cups of water were brought along with a PITCHER of water. I always jump for joy when I discover another restaurant which brings me the pitcher. As an avid water drinker I have only found a few places that can keep my cup full, and a pitcher will definitely stay the drought.

Our waiter, Jordan, comes and tantalizes our taste buds as she describes the daily specials and lets us in on a little secret that is not on the menu. The description wins us over and Beth chooses the Jalapeno Stuffed Ravioli and I chose their Florentine Pizza.

The pizza is made with the traditional thin and crispy crust, an alfredo sauce, chicken, fresh baby spinach and black olives. I X'ed the black olives, because those do not taste good, and added some scrumptious roasted garlic. They readily accepted the change in menu and showed that they are flexible and an easy restaurant to eat at. The crust was a little too cooked on the outer edge, it being black, but surprisingly still tasted great. The pizza was good and I'm glad I got the lower price during happy hour.

The Stuffed Ravioli was exceptionally amazing. With the ravioli smothered in Pasta Jay's famous marinara sauce, multiple types of cheese and the peppers being that perfect spice with out burning your mouth off, I endorse it. Worth going back at any time, even if those lines are long.

For our dessert we ordered Tiramisu and cannoli. And for once my order was better then Beth's. I got the tiramisu which was good and light with a superb flavor. The chocolate dressing was at a slight variance to the flavor of the tiramisu but I just ate it without dip it in the excess dressing and was thoroughly "picked up". The cannoli, Beth's favorite, had an excellently deep fried crisp shell but the cream was a little too grainy due to the much added cinnamon.

Jordan, our waiter, was exceptional, truly the best of the whole lot at Pasta Jay's in Lone Tree. She was truly honest! A great quality, one sometimes lacking in waiters.

Pasta Jay's on Urbanspoon

 

Handsome Henrys

I had heard a few people mention Handsome Henry's. I didn't know it was a pizza place, nor did I know it was within a mile of where I was currently staying. Most importantly, I didn't know just how amazing Handsom Henry's would be or I would have been all over this place!

A couple weeks into our stay, I finally made it to Handsome Henry's. We were seated at a squishy little center table. I hate center tables. They shouldn't even exist. Booths are so much easier and a lot more comfortable. Anyway, I wasn't pleased with our seats.

Our waitress came out and got our drink order in a timely fashion. She quickly returned with drinks. My little girl's drink was in one of those cups you get to take home that came with a lid and the waitress made the coolest little design with the extra long curly straw. Simple details like that seriously win me over!

We ordered and waited the perfect amount of time for our food. I ordered the Crab Rangoon pizza. My husband got the Sirloin Steak pizza.

I usually write about my favorite item last but the Crab Rangoon pizza was SO amazing I have to write about it first. Imagine heaven in your mouth. There you have it. Crab Rangoon Pizza. Not good enough? Ok... Crab Rangoon pizza is a pizza made with "Garlic cream cheese, imitation crab, green onions, mozzarella, crispy wonton strips and sweet chili glaze". If you love crab wontons like I do, you will die. This is basically a giant pizza version of a crab wonton. The creamy sauce is outstanding. The subtle crab flavor adds a uniqueness but fun edge to pizza and the sweet chili glaze as a final touch makes this pizza thee very best pizza that I have ever eaten in my life. Now to be fair, it's hardly "pizza" but I don't care. This is my favorite food. Numero uno. Best food I've ever put in my mouth. That's how good it is. Just a warning, it's incredibly rich. I could only eat once piece before I had to steal my second and third slices from my family to make up for all the goodness of this creamy, sweet dish. I'm afraid this pizzas only downfall is that you really can't eat this as a meal. I'm afraid of the painful stomach ache that would follow.

The Sirloin Steak Pizza was almost as delicious. The biggest difference here is that you can actually consume a few slices of this one without feeling sick. The Sirloin pizza is made with "Sliced tender sirloin steak, tomato sauce, chopped green peppers, sweet onions and diced tomato topped with provolone cheese". The steak pieces are good size and good quality. The sauce wasn't actually tomato sauce as they claim however. It's half tomato sauce half BBQ. I think that's not only a creative idea but I thought it was pretty great tasting too. My husband really isn't a fan of sweets though so he was off put by that and was pretty frustrated that the menu didn't state that. Don't let that deter you though. This is an excellent pizza! As I said, the meat is divine, the sweet onions are perfect the tomatoes add the perfect touch of acidity to the mix.




Handsome Henrys on Urbanspoon

Mr Scrib's Pizza

My family and I just moved from Denver to Michigan on what we are calling our 3 year vacation. We're here for work and are already falling in love.  We have heard that locals hold strong opinions in regards to pizza so naturally as food bloggers, we ventured out and tried a few different joints as soon as we had the chance. Mr Scrib's was the second we tried.

We drove up to this particular location and were shocked and excited to see a drive through! A drive through pizza shop! Are you kidding me?! How neat! The lady at the window was very friendly and kind. She explained how things work, for example... you order at the window and go away for a while till your pizza is ready. Once it is ready you drive back up to the window. You can pay when you order or when you pick up, your choice.

We ordered a pizza for us and a pizza for the kids. Ours had sausage and peppers. The kids' had pepperoni. I wasn't very impressed with the pizza until I snuck a bite of the pepperoni. That one was pepperoni and cheese perfection. The cheese was the perfect consistency. The pepperoni was bursting with savory flavor. It put our bland, boring sausage pizza to shame.  No pizza should be bland or boring. Needless to say, if we go back we'll be sticking to the basic and simple pepperoni. In fact, when I want a plain ol' pepperoni pizza I'll be sure to go back to Mr Scribs because it's simply the best pepperoni pizza I've ever had.

I like to add a link to restaurants websites but looks like they forgot to renew their domain. Oops!


Mr Scrib's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday

Red Robin Bad Robin

It never fails, every so often I'm out with friends and it is settled to eat at Red Robin. I will admit, I am a little biased against Red Robin, due to some past stories of mine but that doesn't stop me from giving that little red bird another try, constantly. So here it goes again...

The Good: Sweet Potato Fries and that's it. They have BOTTOMLESS sweet potato fries. Whenever I go I make sure I get my moneys worth of just sweet potato fries. I'm talking 6-10 baskets full. Well now closer to the hire number and beyond since they have recently reduced the amount of fries delivered. The sweet potato fries come nice and crisp with that soft inside that is oh so delicious. Now I am constantly writing sweet potato fries as to leave no shadow of doubt to which fries I am talking about, because they do have just fries. I'm always impressed how at Red Robin getting the upgraded fries of Parmesan and garlic (which are great combinations) make the fries worse. I thought paying for upgrades were to get, well ... an upgrade. But if you like tasteless soft mushy fries go ahead and get their fries. If you like tasteless soft mushy fries with some white and green stuff thrown at them get their Parmesan and garlic fries. They don't even cook the upgrades with the fries, they just throw them on after the fact. But if you like sweet potato fires get THEM! They themselves are occasionally worth just a trip.

The Change: The Red Robin closest to our house just went through some remodeling. They REMOVED the red robin statue, a signature logo. That's like taking Ronald McDonald and X-ing him from McDonald's, oh wait, they did that too. So like the fast food chain McDonald's, Red Robin is trying to "fancify" themselves. The laid back burger joint is now prim and proper. Not only did they remodel the building they also remodeled their menu. Again trying to make themselves a higher class burger joint with three different burger options: Gourmet, Angus, and Tavern. I'm all for change and letting others change, especially for the good. And if Red Robin wants to change to a $12 burger place let it be! I might start to like them! But please serve me a $12 burger. Something that hits fast food burgers out of the park.

The Other Stuff: I don't say bad, because it's not bad, it's just not good. We ordered four different burgers at our table. I got a a chili burger which appeared to be a 1/2 can of some generic chili slapped on top of a burger all sandwiched between a bun. That's it, no other toppings or flavors: generic chili over cooked unseasoned ground beef. Umm????
We ordered a tavern burger as well to see if the change of additional options would better their standing. So we got the Red's Tavern Double, aka McDouble with a tomato.
We got two other gourmet burgers: Guacamole Bacon and Blue Ribbon. I mean guacamole and bacon, how can that not be good? Again, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't "Gourmet Burgers". They are definitely a step up from McDonald type fast food. But if you are going for a GOOD burger go to SmashBurger. Plus, it's half the price.

Lastly, our waiter was annoyed at something and didn't know the menu at all. We asked her some questions and she made up some answers that contradicted herself.


Red Robin Gourmet Burgers on Urbanspoon

Voodoo Doughnut

I am pretty sure that my husband is the only person I've ever met who doesn't love doughnuts. The deep fried, sickly sweet dessert is too delicious for me to not love. While I've never had a Krispy Kreme, eating a warm fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut is on my bucket list. I've heard that's as good as it gets in the doughnut world.
When I heard that Voodoo was opening a store in Denver I pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. As a Portland native and Colorado transplant it was too good to be true. I actually haven't been to Voodoo in Portland but have always wanted to.  I was SO EXCITED to have the infamous Voodoo Doughnut shop come this way.
We avoid crowds so we waited till just recently to go waste time standing in line for an extremely overpriced doughnut. My husband was not thrilled to say the least but he's supportive and tagged along anyway. We parked a few blocks away as suggested. Part of the experience is to check the back lot and watch naive people's cars get towed away. If you think you are above getting towed from "the back lot" you are foolish. There were boots and tow trucks galore.
We got into line and people watched. We, in our late twenties, were the second or third oldest group in the line of about 100 people. The guy a few people ahead of us was one of the very few that was older than us and he happened to be on speaker with his teenage daughter asking her what it was she wanted. Even he was fetching doughnuts for someone younger than I. Point is, this is certainly a shop who's marketing screams at the young crowd.
I loved the duck tape wall art. The decor and environment was fun. The line took a bit more than half an hour on a random Thursday night. I was so sure that would have been the least busy time to go and yet we still had to wait a long time. My husband and I are 98% sure they contribute to the long, slow lines. Sure there are a ton of customers but the cashiers just go painfully slow. Once we got to the counter the man just folded boxes for a while before taking our order. There were already dozens and dozens of folded boxes and yet he felt the need to fold a few more before helping us. We told him what we wanted and he went and grabbed one at a time and very casually placed them in our box.
So, finally... the doughnuts! If you're like me you've heard that they are average. They are just over hyped doughnuts famous for their quirky thyme. Wrong. The Voodoo doughnut is actually really good! The raspberry filling was amazing. The dough was great. The pretzel soggy. Ew. The frosting was excellent. Overall an amazing doughnut!
The bacon maple bar is like $3. In my opinion it was dry, bland and the bacon was kind of gross. I never in my wildest dreams I'd ever put gross and bacon in the same sentence.
 If you want to have your socks knocked off, order a fritter. We tried the apple fritter. Oh. My. Word. SO GOOD! It's deep fried. the glaze is perfectly sticky while the luscious apple pieces and add a pop of flavor making it impossible to put the fritter down. This pastry is absolute perfection. It is worth standing in line for.

The cake doughnuts are average. You could might as well go get a store bought doughnut. These are what you would get if you ask for the Voodoo dozen or whatever the box deal is. It looks like a good deal but it's not. You don't get the good stuff. It's better to just order fewer of what you actually want.




Voodoo Doughnut on Urbanspoon

Wednesday

Timberline Grill at Ameristar in Black Hawk, Co


The clang of slot machines, the flipping of cards, and the low drum of hundreds of people talking permeates the air as you enter the Ameristar Casino in Blackhawk. But there is relief, a little get away, a mountain lodge of serenity built as a beautiful timber frame lodge with slated wood walls. It offers a cozy fire place to absorb warmth by and there is excellent food to enjoy. 
It is the Timberline Grill!

Chef Philippe Georges has recently upgraded the menu to incorporate the ideal of grow local. They have partnered with local dairies to bring in their expert cheeses. They use Colorado raised lamb, trout from our very own Rocky Mountains, and choice aged beef.


We had the privilege of trying a sampler of their appetizers. A plate full of Jumbo Shrimp, Smoked Trout Mousse, Crab Aspic, and Lobster Salad. The Jumbo Shrimp were too jumbo for Beth, as after three bites half was still left, but that very fact made them perfect for me. They were LARGE shrimp with just the right amount of sauce, full flavor and good texture. The Smoked Trout Mousse was smoked! It was heavily smoked, which producing a rich flavor to the mousse, complemented well with the horseradish foam, and the roasted beets made it stand out. If you love a smoked flavor, get it! If you don’t, go for the shrimp. The Crab Aspic (a gelatin) was rejected by Beth due to her years in Russia and a bad experience with Kholodets. I found it intriguing. It was of a good softness and was well presented but had a dull flavor. The Lobster Salad with an avocado base had me on edge at first. As I put it in my mouth it felt chunky but then the flavors combined into a melody of deliciousness, especially with the accompanying bread. It was a good portion and filling. 


After filling ourselves most of the way with the appetizers we began studying the menu. I concluded on getting the Rack of Colorado Lamb as I was intrigued by the combination of lavender, honey, and roasted garlic. Beth settled on the Cedar Plank Skuna Bay Salmon, again due to the combination of a whiskey maple butter sauce. The lamb was arrayed nicely in the center of the plate with the honey artistically drizzled. The salmon came served on the cedar plank with a wrapped lemon and a jar of the whiskey maple butter. Beth was delighted to see the sauce come in a jar, as it calmed her worry of having to ration the sauce. The lamb was cooked exactly as I asked and Beth (a non lamb liker) said it was the best lamb she has had and actually asked for another bite. The sauce was plentiful and good and the lamb tasty, but I wouldn’t go back solely for the lamb. The salmon on the other hand was exquisite and worth any trip. The only bad thing was that it was hard for me to get more as I was sitting on the opposite side of the table and Beth was standing guard. 


The dessert was a Chocolate Blackout Cake drizzled with raspberry flavoring and backed with a chocolate crisp. It did not look restaurant made nevertheless is was scrumptious and amply big enough to fill any chocolate lovers needs. 




The service was enjoyable. We were lead by the hostess, who's dress was much too short, to a nice booth. The moment we sat down we had a bowl of bread placed at our table and I do not think my cup of water ever reached half way before it was refilled. Well done!  Our server, April, was a delight to talk to and was very genuine. And although she is one of the newest servers (being there only a little over a year) she is one of the best! Ask for her whenever you go!




Timberline Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday

Celestial Seasonings

It may seem odd to post a "review" on a factory but trust me, I'm doing you a favor! I had heard of people touring Celestial Seasonings which is located in Boulder. I thought it sounded dumb and boring. I am a tea enthusiast and all but I just thought it would be a waste of time. It wasn't until I agreed to go on a triple date that I was talked into going.

We arrived and went into the front desk to be assigned a tour. The young lady was kind enough to let us run into the tour that was just starting. She gave us our "tickets" which were actually packages of tea. I really liked that! Each tour group gets a different flavor so if you are picky, just ask what flavor you are getting. If you don't want that flavor you can ask what the next tour flavor will be. Each tour is about 30 minutes so they start every half hour as well.

They have you watch a little video and then hand you a hair net. You head into the factory and get to see how things run. I won't go into detail here because it's hardly exciting and it certainly wouldn't be exciting to read about.

Once the tour was over the real fun began! We skipped the gift shop and went back into the café, which is where the tour starts. Here they offer FREE samples of every tea they make. I would like to add that "Free Samples" doesn't do it justice. They give you a small mug or cup. You can go to the counter and serve yourself one of the dozen teas that are hot and ready to be sipped OR you can go to the counter and ask to try any of the dozens of teas listed on their menu. They will happily serve you, answer questions, share little tid bits or spout off neat little facts. After you have yourself a glass of tea you can head over to the counter and add whatever you'd like to your cup. They have everything you can imagine! From cream to honey it's all there. Once you have yourself a drink you can sit at a table or couch. They have magazines and newspapers and they sell snacks. There is even a bathroom. They honestly want you to sit and enjoy as many cups of tea as your heart desires. It's heavenly. They won't even look at you funny if you go up for your 10th cup of tea. I know because I did it. I was starting to feel guilty and mentioned it. The lady reassured me that they are happy to give you as much tea as you want!

At the end of the day it's really a great marketing strategy. I didn't think I'd buy tea after the tour but after drinking about a dozen different varieties I had no choice but to go back to the gift shop to buy a few boxes.

Whether you are a local or are just here for a visit, I highly recommend you go check this place out!

Celestial Seasonings on Urbanspoon

Frijoles Colorado

We've never had Cuban food before. The foundation of this blog was built on the fact that we love trying new cuisines and prefer to try out new places rather than constantly visiting a favorite! Well, we were just driving around and saw "Cuban Cuisine" and had to make a stop.

Frijoles is located in a strip of maybe 3 other businesses right off Alameda. The location lead us to believe it would be a little hole in the wall (with hole in the wall pricing). When we walked in, I felt like I was in a little bakery. The atmosphere is simple and the place is on the smaller side. Just a modest little place really.

The workers greeted us cheerfully! The staff were a happy and friendly bunch and we loved that! We loved it so much we paid close to $10 for each of our sandwiches! Not that Subway is great, but I totally agree with their pricing. A sandwich should be $5! It's a simple food that is cheap to make.


This place has a focus on sandwiches it seems but they do offer plates and a daily special. All dishes are about $10 which really is a good price (especially for the quality).  When our sandwiches arived and we took our first bites, we knew this place serves you their best. The quality of the meats was outstanding. We had a Pan Con Bistec (Steak) sandwich. The steak was tender, moist and bursting with flavor. The tomatoes and onions were fresh and beautiful. The potato sticks were unique but added a load of crunch to the sandwich. It was a great sandwich.

We also tried the El Cubano (Cuban) sandwich. The owner suggested it as one of her favorites so we figured it must be great. It's served on Cuban bread which they make themselves daily! The sandwich also comes with ham, Swiss cheese, pork roast, mustard and pickles.

I don't know if I could tell you which sandwich was better. They both offered something so different. I loved the panini feel of the Cuban sandwich. It offered that comfort food feel. The steak sandwich was just as amazing but it offered a bold, almost manly meat with potato sticks that bulked the whole thing up and was served on a thicker bread. If you are hungry, I'd suggest going with the steak sandwich for sure!


Finally, we sampled the Lechon Moro y Yuca plate which 5280 featured in their magazine. This dish offers their "signature pork, rice infused with black beans and yuca and caramelized onions".  The cook (also one of the owners) told us this plate is Cuba's fancy traditional Christmas dinner!  You know it must be good then, right? It is. The pork was so juicy and tasty! I don't know that I was a fan of the Yuca but that was a texture thing more than anything. As far as the flavors it was nice. Here is the crazy part: the beans and rice were my favorite. They were cooked to perfection. The flavors were simple and I just couldn't get enough. When we go back (because we probably will) I'll be getting my hands on that rice.

We were way too full to try a dessert but they offer a great selection that they make themselves daily.

I just loved the staff and the food at Frijoles. It is obvious that they serve quality, home made products and the food is authentic to Cuba. As I said, we don't like to revisit restaurants but this one is so good, we'll be going back.

Frijoles Colorado Cuban Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday

Tam's

My super awesome husband knows that good ol' Americanized Chinese food is my biggest guilty pleasure.  He went to A West for a period of time and explained that Tam's has lines out the door at lunch time because the kids love this place! He warned me that it's a major hole in the wall but with it's great Urbanspoon reviews, he thought I should give it a try. Well, like I said, I'm a sucker for Chinese so he didn't need to convince me!
 
 

We haven't ever had Hong Kong Noodles so we ordered some. It's a dish of wok fried noodles with a brown sauce topped with shrimp, beef, chicken and mixed vegetables. They weren't our favorite of the items we ordered but they were still great! In fact, just thinking about them makes me want more.
 
 
 
I think we always order orange chicken. It's a favorite in this house. When I took my first bite I wasn't sure what I was eating. This dish offers a more bitter side of orange than your typical orange chicken. I realized upon my second bite that it's because they actually cook it with real oranges. You have to pick out the rind chunks or you'll bite into a rather unpleasant surprise. I loved the natural, sweet, bitter zip that Tam's Orange Chicken has. It really is a great recipe that left craving more!
 
I wouldn't normally mention fried rice. I don't like rice and find it to be a filler to compensate for smaller sized portions. At Tam's that is far from the truth. First of all, the portions are so huge that my husband and had leftovers for days! I would estimate that one plate will feed 3 people easy. Second of all, Tam's fried rice is worth eating. It was especially delicious mixed in with the Orange chicken sauce. Oh my word, it was out of this world!
 
We thought we ordered a side of giant egg rolls but it appears we actually ordered the Vietnamese Egg Rolls. They weren't giant but they were tasty. I won't order them again though. While they weren't bad, they were the least favorite for both of us.
 
Fried wontons are an amazing Chinese appetizer that is almost always dipped in a Sweet and Sour sauce. If you order crab wontons from Tam's, you won't be dipping them. These little guys are so packed full of flavor! The crab flavor isn't too strong but it certainly isn't hidden behind the cream cheese. The wontons are hands down the best wontons I've ever had.
 
Tam's may be a hole in the wall teen age hang out but I don't care. I'll be back! This place deserves the hype and I really hope that Tam's wife (who is now a widow) keeps this place up and running. This is exactly what I imagine when I crave Chinese food.
 
 
Tam's Cantonese on Urbanspoon

Wednesday

Tommyknockers Brewery


We had my little sister fly in from the Pacific North West recently. We decided to show her around Colorado a bit and ended up at this brewery up in Idaho Springs. We've been told Tommyknockers has some awesome home made soda and we were anxious to give it a try.


We ordered one pitcher of their home made root beer. It was great!  I am a sucker for home made and unique sodas. I wouldn't drive all the way up here just to try it, but if you're in the area you should certainly stop in and give it a try.


We started off with a plate of Motherload Nachos. If you've read many of my posts you may have noticed I am a nacho lover. I often order nachos so I've tried many varieties. These nachos are seriously the greatest nachos in the world. I can guarantee you won't find better nachos in Colorado. The chips are made in house and taste like Doritos. So imagine... Doritos with cheddar cheese, chili con queso, pico de gallo, black beans and a side of guacamole (you pay extra for guac). I can't even explain to you how good these nachos are. They are worth the drive. I promise.

Now, we may as well just stopped there. We had amazing draft root beer and the best nachos on the planet. Our luck couldn't be better, right? Right! We didn't' really enjoy our meals much. Gary had a burger and I had their pesto chicken sandwich. Neither are worth mentioning really. If we go again (and we WILL go again) we'll order Nachos all around and pitcher of that home made root beer!




Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub on Urbanspoon