My principles look good on paper. But money looks better on paper, as do menus. So when it comes to the meat markets of the grande bourgeoisie, I tend to eschew making shows of my ethics in favor of chewing. (Eat the rich, swallow the cost, what’s the diff?) Thus did the Fortune Rookie (whom you may have met here) & I tackle the bar at Elway’s in Cherry Creek recently.
Being lefty, broke & increasingly bitter with age (in no particular order), I’d steeled myself with a sneer for the McCain campaign donors in varying combinations of hair transplants, pleated pants, braided belts & tasseled loafers, & for the honey-blonde haves twice my age who looked half it. But there’s no mechanism on earth that would have allowed me to cope with the load I got of that cross between
Jocelyn Wildenstein & Axl from back in the day
a-mingling in stirrup pants, or that
Cleveland Brown lookalike
taking to the floor for a live piano-&-guitar cover of “Your Mama Don’t Dance, Your Daddy Don’t Rock ‘n’ Roll” with a peanut-in-the-shell of an old lady who in fact did dance but could not have been his mama, unless her obviously Ashkenazi genes were recessive to the vanishing point. Were they on a date? Was she his Miss Daisy? What gives? Has anybody else seen whom I mean there before, or were they figments of the Rookie’s & my joint imagination, starved as it was by the swarm of WASPs who left nothing to it?
Speaking of starvation, you can plan on it at Elway’s so long as you also plan on spending within your means. If you’re willing to shell out the bigger-than-thou bucks, you’ll be repaid with big portions of good, not great, cookery—which is to say you won’t really be repaid, at least not in full. So: close but no Cuban-cigar-such-as-some-pro-embargo-neocon-dining-at-Elway’s-on-any-given-night-might-secretly-enjoy-afterward.
Clearly hand-chopped, sprinkled with julienned radish & finely minced parsley, ringed with capers fried in butter & served with a basket of toast points,
my $17 steak tartare
was as gorgeous as it was slightly, hence all the more woefully, oversalted; the fact that the flavor of the beef, exquisite with a touch each of yolk & Dijon, was still palpable just meant I knew all too well what I was missing.
Back in ’99 I’d geekily counted the weeks leading up to the release of Blair Witch Project, only to have an old friend totally ruin the movie for me by saying, “It’s just a bunch of people screaming at sticks.” I was just snatching a forkful of the filling on
the Rookie’s $9 steak taco plate
when she whispered, “Tell me if you taste taco seasoning mix.” I’m not saying Ortega, I’m just saying. Either way, I don’t know if someone thought placing the filling & the tortillas in identical bowls would function as some sort of
optical illusion of size
whereby the diner might think there was enough of the former to stuff the latter, but if so, someone should think again. That there’s a lot of dough per smidgen of meat.
Go figure that our salads therefore put the smackdown on our steakhouse steak.
I didn’t sample the Rookie’s signature chopped salad with cherry tomato, yellow pepper, cuke, red onion, celery, heart of palm, shredded cheddar, housemade green goddess dressing &, by request, mesclun instead of iceberg, but it sure looked like pavement after a parade, & she praised it.
As for my shrimp salad—
if, at $17.50, it’s the most expensive dish whose main ingredient is lettuce (not having occasion to try this) I’ve ever eaten, I’ll allow that it was practically worth it. Though you can’t tell from the photo, it was loaded with chunks of mighty fine chilled shrimp, along with bacon, eggs, shredded cheddar & chopped tomatoes & onions. I asked our awfully nice & on-the-ball bartender-server—whose name I didn’t catch but whose resemblance to
comedian Patton Oswalt,
whose Lists of Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2009 is really pretty great, I did—to swap its creamy mustard dressing with the green goddess, a childhood fave whose recent comeback (see for instance here) was long overdue. Though one of the milder renditions I’ve encountered, it had enough tang to add oomph to an already reasonably oomphy situation.
Whether I’ll return depends on whether I manage to sell my soul, since that’s pretty much the only scenario in which I can see myself ordering a steak whose sauce costs extra. Then again, acquiring a nice chunk of change for something that’s already on the raggedy black side has lately begun to sound like a pretty nifty trade-off. So maybe that’ll be one center cut with hollandaise, & one tax cut with all the trimmings?