Friday, April 05, 2013

The Squeaky Bean

I don't normally review restaurants on my blog, preferring to focus on my writing life and mystery author guests, but I recently had an exceptional experience at a Denver restaurant and just HAVE to share! Last Saturday, my husband and I drove our daughter down to Denver to spend the night at her brother's apartment, so he could take her to the airport early in the morning for her return flight to Portland. We wanted to celebrate having the whole family together before she left, so we asked our son to recommend a special restaurant. Being Head Baker at Grateful Bread, a wholesale bakery that supplies artisan breads to upscale restaurants and hotels in the area, our son knows which restaurants are the up-and-comers.

He recommended The Squeaky Bean and made a reservation for the four of us to sit at bar seats overlooking the food preparation area, so we could watch the fascinating show all night long as chefs hand-decorated works of art on a plate or in a bowl. Grateful Bread supplies some of the breads to The Squeaky Bean, and our son knew one of the two prep chefs who entertained us all night. The beet salads in particular took a lot of work (shown below). On to the food!

The Squeaky Bean is known for its use of super-fresh seasonal produce and application of ultra-modern culinary techniques (we saw lots of uses of the liquid nitrogen tank!). The restaurant has its own organic farm, the Bean Acre, in Lakewood, Colorado. One of the many appetizers/first courses we consumed shows this attention to freshness and detail (items were individually placed on the dish with long tweezers), the "Roots and Leaves" of green garlic custard, charred root vegetables, and spring greens (see below).

 Below are our four main courses.The first two (son's and hubby's) are the Pork Loin with lardo, peas, and steel cut oat risotto and the Colorado Lamb dish of whey poached leg, braised shoulder, hand rolled couscous, pine nut, roasted cauliflower, ras el hanout, and olive.

My daughter opted to have another first course as her main, the Open Ravioli with sweetbreads, egg yolk, duck liver mousse, gremolata, and hunter’s sauce. I had the Kale Agnolotti with vegetable brodo, goat cheese gnudi, and charred baby artichokes. All of the dishes were absolutely scrumptious!

And then there were the desserts! Even though we were pleasantly full, we managed to share two desserts between the four of us. The first photo below shows the Chocolate and Caramel Torte with flourless chocolate cake, caramel budino, pine nut marshmallows, and macaroon. The second photo shows the Citrus Dessert with yuzu curd, cashew shortbread, grapefruit and blood orange slices, candied lime and lemon peel, and grapefruit snow. The photo shows mist still coming off the liquid nitrogen poured into the dish.

The Squeaky Bean received The Denver Post’s first four-star review since the paper started its current rating system in 2005. It received five-star reviews from the four of us! I highly recommend it.

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