Monday, October 4, 2010

Dining out - recent experiences

The busy-ness of the last few weeks has been accompanied by a number of opportunities to eat out. Here are some thoughts on the various establishments:

Probably the top experience was Zamparelli's in Louisville. It was perhaps our fourth visit to this family-oriented Italian restaurant on the north edge of Denver's north suburbs. As I am on their mailing list, their last email offered the following:
  • Munson's Sweet Corn Soup with Basil Oil
  • Peach & Goat Cheese Pizza
  • Banana Squash Pizza
  • Baked 5-Cheese Pasta with
  • Butternut Squash & Local Roasted Chilis
  • Lemon Chicken with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Arugula
  • Peach Crostada with Vanilla Gelato
What intrigued me were the second and fifth items. Rita eagerly agreed for us to head north.

Upon arrival, we found a hopping place -- a lot of young families as well as folks our age. The hostess led us to a table deep into the restaurant. We almost lost her as a little three-year old boy got in the way. Chuckling at the delay, I told her that we got caught in traffic.

We were disappointed to hear that the second item on the special menu was already gone (no peach and goat cheese pizza tonight). We decided to share risotto balls with a chili sauce and the banana squash pizza with banana peppers and spinach. I asked that the spinach be restricted to only half the pizza (got to watch out for blood-thickening vitamin K). The risotto balls were crispy on the outside; when dipped in the chili sauce a really delightful appetizer gave promise of what was to come. We used the remaining bread slinces to soak up the last of the sauce. The pizza was terrific. The thinly sliced squash had a pleasing texture and just a hint of sweetness. This was definitely not our last visit to Zamparelli's.

After running a late afternoon errand in central Lakewood, we found ourselves close to Belmar. What do we choose: Elephant Bar, Ted's Montana Grill, Las Margaritas, P.F. Chang's, or Baker Street? I have had good experiences at Baker Street before, so we decided to go there. Baker Street Pub tries to be a traditional English pub, but with an American sports bar feel (there are a few wide screens around and they promote Sunday and Monday night football). Rita order the fish and chips (half-order) and I, while tempted by the Shepherd's Pie (I've had it before), tried the chicken pot pie. The soup that came with Rita's order was a thin potato soup with bacon and cheese. The fish was a large, single fillet. The pastry shell on top of the pie was light and flaky, while the chicken and vegetables occupied a small bowl. I guess I didn't read the menu closely, as I was surprised by the accompanying french fries. The fries (chips) on both of our plates were lightly seasoned. We decided to go for the cobbler dessert. We're still trying to decide whether the apples were sharing the filling with either peaches or mango. The ice cream and exposed cobbler were heavily dusted with cinnamon. Our server, apparently experienced with spirits (she could answer questions about the specialty drinks) indicated that this was her first day "on the floor," so she had to seek answers to some of our questions (Does the Chicken Pot Pie include broccoli? No. What fruit is in the cobbler? Apples. But, when it came, what was that yellow fruit. I thought peach, she later said the kitchen staff said they "thought" it was mango. Was anyone sure?). It was happy hour, so the house wines were marked down. It would nice to have ordered a second glass, but I like to drive with no negative effects.


A Colorado chain of Mexican restaurants, 3 Margaritas (pronounce the number either "three" or "tres"), has opened a new location just south of the Arvada Ridge Target, in Wheat Ridge, in the former La Piazza space. We experienced their grand opening with our daughter Mary and granddaughter Abbi. Abbi was delighted with coloring the children's menu and with the balloon offered by the hostess. Like other 3 M locations, a large staff was in attendance, and service was prompt. The plates were hot and the food was comparable to what we've experienced before. I liked the grilled fish very much. The menu is large and extensive, especially rich in seafood, unlike many other Mexican restaurants. The new location is small compared to their Westminster location. The harpist, Mr. Ramirez (I forgot his first name), intrigued Abbi, but she played shy while he plucked the strings to our request, La Paloma. (I'm no harp expert, but I'm wondering if he was playing an Jalisco harp?)

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