Jay Fox's Dining Guide

Wanna have an Affair on the Square?

“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.” — Henry David Thoreau

COME ONE, COME ALL, TO THE VERY FIRST “Affair on the Square”… and as their PR department labels it, “Denver’s first premier al fresco dining experience.” When you look at what’s for dinner, you’ll probably agree with “premier.”

This is an event to benefit the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, which will be playing for your pleasure that night, July 21. For all the details, go to www.anaffaironthesquare.com.

But if you aren’t computer-literate, here’s the skinny. There will be eight Larimer Square restaurants participating in the event. Each restaurant has created a special pre-fixe menu for the evening, all featuring their own specialty items with different prices ranging from $58 to $97 per person for the dinner. Each dinner includes three courses plus dessert.

There will be over 100 tables, all set for four, on the street, with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in the center of the square. The canopy of lights over the street will be blazing. There will be four fully staffed event bars serving libations.

Tickets for the event portion are $35 per person and will be sold in packages of four ($140). That includes entrance on the street, two complimentary cocktails, and lotsa live music performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled for the following Wednesday, July 28. The cost of the dinner does not include the cost of admission. However, you will pay both costs when you make your reservs.

The patios that are on Larimer Street will be extended into the street which will be closed to traffic from 14th to 15th. There will be valet parking on 15th street. There is an $8 charge for valet parking for some restaurants. The Capital Grille will provide complementary parking. You need to check with each restaurant about their specific arrangements. Event tickets and dinners must be purchased as a package of four. Do not call the restaurant for reservs for this event. If you don’t have Internet service, or just wanna talk to a live person, call 303-534-2367, ext 154. Otherwise, the Internet site is real cool and has up-to-date info on availability. Tickets are non-refundable.

The restaurants will also be serving their regular dinner menu in their restaurant. If you want to dine in the restaurant and not be seated on the street, call the restaurant directly for reservs.

Some of the restaurants will be holding after hours events. Check out the Web site or call the individual restaurant for details. Here it is again: www.anaffaironthesquare.com

Mark the date: Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 6-9 p.m.

Without further ado, here is the pre-fixe menu for each restaurant. Note that this is the complete dinner and the cost includes tax and gratuity. It does NOT include the $35 cost per person for admission to the event.

Bistro Vendome
1st Course: Sliced heirloom tomatoes, arugula, pickled red onions, marinated valbreso feta, cucumber vinaigrette.
2nd Course: Salmon rillette, meyer lemon preserve, frisee grilled baguette.
3rd Course: Cherry Glazed duck leg confit, smoked fingerling potatoes, fig mustard braised Napa cabbage, buttermilk fried shallots.
4th Course: Brioche French toast, grilled Colorado palisade peaches, basil ice cream, toasted almond brittle.
The total cost: $71 per person plus admission.

Corridor 44
1st Course: House Salad — Apples, grapes, candied nuts, brie croutons, champagne vinaigrette.
2nd Course: Lamb Lollypops — New Zealand (boooo!) lamb w/pomegranate molasses.
3rd Course: Surf & Turf — Herb crusted filet mignon, asparagus, grilled white shrimp.
Dessert: Chocolate fondue — strawberries, bananas and cookies.
The total cost: $84 per person plus admission.

Lime (an American cantina)
1st Course: Lime house chips with salsa trio, Baja style shrimp and scallop ceviche tostadita.
2nd Course: Grilled poblano relleno stuffed with Oaxaca and Menonita cheese served with a summer squash slaw.
3rd Course: Poblanos Pechugas — Redbird chicken breast stuffed with poblano rajas and goat cheese with a guajillo chile mole.
Dessert: Choritos with dulce de leche ice cream and fresh berry compote.
The total cost: $58 per person plus admission.

Rioja
1st Course: heirloom tomato gazpacho, tempura Hawaiian shrimp, extra virgin olive oil, smoked paprika.
2nd Course: Pecorino ravioli, fava beans, preserved lemon vinaigrette, Moutere grove olive oil.
3rd Course: Colorado Lamb two ways, grilled t-bone, house made lamb merguez sausage, crisp couscous pillows, caramelized fennel, tomato coulis, preserved lemon yogurt.
Dessert: Rioja banana split.
The total cost: $84 per person plus admission.

The Capital Grille
Appetizer: Pan-fried calamari w/hot cherry peppers/miniature lobster and crab cakes.
Salad Choice: Field greens, tomatoes, fresh herbs OR Caesar salad.
Entrée Choice: Filet mignon 10 oz OR bone-in Kona crusted sirloin (really a New York strip) OR grilled chicken with roasted tomato and bell peppers OR seared citrus glazed salmon.
Accompaniments: Sam’s mashed potatoes / seasonal vegetables
Dessert Choice: Flourless chocolate espresso cake OR classic Crème Brulee
The total cost: $90 per person plus admission.

Cru — A Wine Bar
1st Course: Foie gras & black truffle Pate — lavosh toast point and pickled red onion and parsley salad.
2nd Course: Torn bibb — sugar cured bacon, Colorado peach, shallot & cashel blue vinaigrette.
3rd Course: Colorado striped bass — haricot vert & fingerling potato sauté, cherry tomato lemon beurre.
Dessert: Peaches ‘n cream — Port mascarpone cream w/ blue and blackberry compote.
The total cost: $60 per person plus admission.

Osteria Marco
Antipasti: Chef’s assortment of meats & cheeses — mini burrata, wild boars head salumi & pickled peppers.
Insalate: Beef carpaccio-lemon zabaglione, gnoccho fritto.
Terezo: Roasted wild salmon — summer succotash.
Rotisserie: Roasted pork loin — herb vinaigrette & zucchini gratin.
Dolci: Lemoncello tartlets-fresh fruit & pistachio brittle.
The total cost: $97 per person plus admission.

TAG (Continental social food)
Amuse: Watermelon shot, crispy pork, ricotta salad.
1st Course: TAG style sashimi — cilantro, carrot ginger salsa, Meyer lemon spicy soy.
2nd Course: Larimer Square Salad — Lamb meatballs, roasted peppers, English pea pesto, minted mustard.
3rd Course: Kal-Bi bbq short ribs — grilled fingerling potatoes, summer vegetables, rustic corn and bacon relish.
4th Course: Colorado nectarine short cake — nectarine ice cream, Li Hing Nectarine vanilla syrup.
The total cost: $85 per person plus admission.

After writing all these menus, and editing and re-editing, I am one hungry person. I have not eaten at several of these eateries but you can bet your bottom bippie that I will soon.

At this writing, a full three weeks out, many tables are already sold, so get on it, Dude (or Dudette). www.anaffaironthesquare.com. Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 6-9 p.m.

Cya.

Jay Fox is The Statesman’s resident gourmand and culinary critic.