Root Down came highly recommended from the locals here in Denver. It wasn’t easy to get a reservation and when I first tried, it seemed impossible. Somehow as I kept trying over a 24 hour period, a Saturday night reservation opened up, and added to the highlighted experiences of my two weeks in Denver.
Denver is one of my dream cities for food, and Root Down has just become one of my favorite eateries. Root Down captures the Colorado food viewpoint, yet seems to understand that the foodie movement is more than gluten free and vegan (which, of course, they are deeply committed to). It’s more than being able to say organic, which they are 75%. It’s more than partnering with local purveyors which they do in abundance. I think the secret to their raving success is a chef driven menu of non-pretentious, stellar food, made from great ingredients that are balanced and full of flavor, while still true to Colorado’s health consciousness.
The Shared Plate
The trend in farm to table partnering is to provide a fun dining experience with the “shared plate.”I have love/hate relationship with the shared plate trend, and I’m not the only one. You have to read this hillarious blogger’s sentiments, as he explains the good and bad of it. I think Root Down nails it because the plates are either ample enough or price friendly enough to not spend upteen amounts of money for what feels like having nibbles. Most plates at Root Down will provide enough food for two to four people to have a healthy taste and move on over to the next shared plate.
The experience of shared plates at Root Down provides a culinary walk across many continents without any one plate being too heavy or overwhelming. The satisfaction isn’t from being overly full in the tummy (although the portions are quite ample). It’s from the pleasure of enjoying several flavors and textures in one meal and leaving happy, feeling good, not stuffed and wanting to return the next day to try another plate.
The main dining area at Root Down is anchored between a large patio, and a bar with a smaller patio. We hit it just right by having an end booth bordering the open air wall to the larger patio. We couldn’t decide if we wanted to sit out on the patio enjoying a sky rise view across town or inside, and we sort of got both. The lights are low, but not too low, and the decor is modern with a throwback to the 50’s, especially in the restrooms where walls are adorned with scales from that decade.
We ordered two cocktails. Mr. ST ordered the Blackberry Smash, and I enjoyed their legendary Beet Down, which has come in second place in a cocktail contest. Normally, I don’t drink gin, but this was an earthy, yet refreshing, beautifully balanced cocktail that had me saying, “I’ll have another.” The Blackberry Smash was absolutely delicious, sweeter than the Beet Down and on another day, probably something I would gravitate to, but on that night, I wanted an earthier drink.
Root Down is simply very good food, starring great ingredients, reminiscent of the quality and style that one might find in my favorite restaurant in Nashville, the Silly Goose.
We started with the special starter plate of the day, Burrata with a Homemade Heirloom Tomato Preserve, paired with fresh peaches, drizzled with balsamic syrup.
We shared two plates, which I highly recommend, especially the gnocchi. The lamb sliders served with sweet potato fries, enough for two people to share, and a stunning dish of lemon gnocchi, served with a poached egg a few peas, flavored with a tomato based creamy sauce with just a little bit of a kick. The gnocchi were small, light and just as good as the picture portrays.
After dinner, we were served a caramel with passion fruit, adorned with a flower. What an amazing combination!
We were happily satisfied after dinner and the caramel was a nice touch.
We did order a piece of Ritual Chocolate with sea salt. Ritual crafts chocolate in its entire process and won the 2013 Good Food Awards, which recognizes artisan food products that are exceptional in taste and socially and environmentally responsible. It was a thin disc of dark, rich chocolate with a stripe of sea salt and the perfect bite to finish a delicious meal.
Sarah did a wonderful job in attending to our needs in a friendly manner and helping us decide on cocktails. After a week of hard work, Root Down was a welcome treat of sheer relaxation and good food.
Root Down at the Airport in Denver
If you visit Denver and don’t have time to dine there, you’re in luck. The Denver Airport just opened a location in Terminal C. Mr. ST was lucky enough to grab a duck taco and the Don Draper Cocktail. Usually, on my way from somewhere I’m tried, cranky and ready to go home. Root Down food and a Don Draper is the just the thing to send me back to Nashville happy.
Barbacoa Duck Tacos: Dried Cherries, French Feta, Radish, Candied Jalapenos & Pickled Red Onion
The Don Draper Cocktail – Citrus Infused Rye Whiskey, Raw Sugar, Angostura Bitters, Orange Bitters, (Stirred Orange Zest)
This is one of the top favorite cocktails of the year, if the not THE favorite.
Just like Root Down in the Highlands, the atmosphere is fun, as these globe lights demonstrate.
There is a nice view, watching the planes.
We started our airport dinner with Bacon Wrapped Dates. Sticky, Gooey, Chewy, Yummy.
This dinner was a real treat for Hollie and me. We had worked hard the past two weeks, cooking most of our own food, getting some take-out during the work week, and to sit down, with bags packed and boarded, ready to see home again, we could relax and enjoy this last supper in Denver. Who knew airport food could be this good?
Hollie had a the beat salad with flank steak, which sat on top of a beet pesto that was sensational. We raved and pleaded and they gave us the recipe. It’s made with sunflower seeds, pickled beets and basil.
I hate to use the word best, but I have to. I had the best bison burger of my life, quite possible the best ever burger of my life. What made it so good was the juicy pink center and tenderness of the meat embedded between a toasted pretzel bun. The sauce, bacon and gouda cheese helped, but the it all began with good meat, cooked properly. I opted out of the basket of sweet potato fries that usually accompany the bison burger for red beet apple slaw.
Another first for me. I never ever order anything peanut butter. The peanut butter flan atop a crunchy rice crispy chocolate bottom is sheer perfection. Not too sweet, just creamy enough and worth every calorie. I am extremely picky about desserts, finding most restaurant desserts half-hearted or all sugar. Hats off to the pastry chef on this one. A must order and be prepared to finish every bite.
The service was attentive, friendly and so helpful. I was able to get all the ingredients for the peanut butter flan, and the written recipe for the beet pesto. Our server said he loved working there, and I can see why.
Denver is a place to eat good food, fun food, inventive food. Root Down was a highlight of my trip times two.