Not to toot my own tuba, but I was 1 of B & W’s 1st & most flowery champions—& I’ve been strewing it with awe-petals ever since (see e.g. here, here). Balancing the edgy & the whimsical with aplomb, it seemed to me to mark Denver’s dining future in sure, clear strokes.
But the future may already be passé.
Then again, it may not; a lapse does not a collapse make. So fervent is my hope that my most recent experience fell on a rare off-night that I can’t bring myself to categorically downgrade the place just yet. But the following had better prove flukes:
—There was a limo parked out front. On South Broadway, on a block firmly packed with have-nots. In a recession. Stretch. Nor could you tell just by scanning the groomed & perfumed crowd of haves, their worldly faces unlined by worldly concerns, to whom it might belong—could’ve been anyone. (Except us, of course.)
—Our waitress wanted to know if we understood how small plates worked. Um, like teacups? No? Humidifers? No…the cerebral cortex? Oh, like big plates, only small! How abso cosmo.
—The current menu is noticeably less interesting, decidedly safer, than were repertoires past. Where once sweetbreads & cockles & curios that yield no Google results (e.g. pouxfle) popped up right & left, now only the usual luxuries languish: foie gras, pork belly, chanterelles—in short nothing Kevin Taylor wouldn’t use. (The brunch menu, oddly but fortunately enough, still reflects some risks taken, what with frogs’ legs & turtle soup & corned buffalo.)
—The moment of truth turned out to be amateur hour (following, perhaps, a good old-fashioned tastebud-blunting crew-wide cigarette break?): not 1, not 2, but all 3 of the savory dishes the Director & I shared were grossly oversalted.
Since we’d started with the house-cured, grilled sardines—themselves delicious, actually, dark & juicy, charred & pungent—
I initially chalked the problem up to them, guessing they’d just rubbed off somehow on the almost bitterly salty dressed arugula & the pickled peppers, while thankfully sparing the airy, fresh housemade mozzarella & buttery grilled brioche.
But the escargots were just as corrosive with sodium;
if not for the excellent, hot, fresh baguette that we could tear off in hunks big enough to absorb the impact of even the smallest daub of sauce,
our mouths would have rusted.
Ditto the saddle of rabbit stuffed with braised leg meat & redundant “herbed pistou“—a real shame since the flesh was beautifully cooked. If there’s 1 creature whose death should never be in nearly inedible vain, it’s the fluffy bunny.
Insofar as our companions happened to order dishes that inhered in elements of sweetness, they may have fared better. Certainly the braised veal over pumpkin risotto with chanterelles & dates looked like something I’d have smeared all over my nakedness under the right conditions.
Camembert cut into squares & served with a lump of crystallized chestnut honey & fig both whole—broiled, I gather—& pulverized into filling for a sort of housemade Fig Newton was likewise lovely,
even if—speaking of not understanding how meal courses work—the baguette our friends requested to accompany it didn’t arrive until after the plate had already been cleared (& the dish of butter another 15 min. after that, when the loaf was half gone).
Regular readers will note I rarely eat dessert. Lacking much of a sweet tooth, I tend to order it in either of only 2 scenarios: 1) following a fantastic repast that I don’t want to end & 2) following a disappointing dinner that I want to end on a note other than the sour one it seems bound to.
Thus did we treat ourselves to the soulful, richly spiced pumpkin-gingerbread pie with, IIRC, caramel ice cream
& the chocolate bubble: a dark chocolate shell enclosing white chocolate semifreddo & “a surprise”—a different filling every day, per our waitress—alongside a few spoonfuls of panna cotta.
My half-orb oozed raspberry.
Aside from the fact that the spoon I was given didn’t cut it, literally hence figuratively—either a more appropriate slicing utensil needs also to be provided or the kitchen should make an incision in the shell before sending it out—this was by far the highlight of my eve, reminiscent at once of tartufo & a jelly doughnut, & not at all of a
The edible high point, anyway. There was a potable peak as well: the Tiptoe Through the Tulips.
There’s an apparent fellow fan of Zubrówka bison grass vodka behind the bar who has seen fit to mix it with lavender & lime. The result zings—subtly sweet & tart, green & so clean & refreshing it’s like drinking linens being hung to dry by a singing virgin in a breezy, blossoming vale.
Hell, visiting Beatrice & Woodsley at its best is itself like becoming a singing virgin in a breezy, blossoming vale—restored, rejuvenated, golden & rosy, touched for the very 1st time & all that. I trust next time I’ll be gently, gracefully led back out of the dark, rocky crevice of disillusion this time found me in.