Voting on the fall menu at Randolph’s

By Kimberly Dean

Every autumn season in September, Randoph’s Restaurant at the Warwick Hotel in Denver hosts a Fall Menu Tasting along with a wine pairing. This was by far the most decadent event I’d attended so far for Politics Uncorked. I invited a new friend to come along, writer Laurie Budgar, whom I met at the wine tasting at the Governor’s Mansion the previous month.

In order to cleanse my palette, I ordered a glass of Procecco at the bar, while I waited for Laurie. The intention of this annual dinner, which is open to the public, local politicos and hotel guests alike, is to decide what will grace the pages of the prestigious menu for the entire year.

Diner Laurie Budgar enjoying her experimental cuisine.
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman
Salmon served three ways, beautifully presented.
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman
The famed salad course.
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman

As we sat at our table, there were voting cards and pens provided to mark our favorite dishes, which were counted up at the end of the dinner, and the items were announced that very evening so as not to keep us in anticipation. Instant gratification is what I live for.

We were taken through six courses, from soup to dessert, and with each course a new wine was poured by our host and restaurant manager, Nate Stiefvater. Each course had three samples to taste, and all we had to do was mark down our favorites in order of best tasting.

With the soup course, which consisted of two hot soups and a gazpacho (cold soup), we drank Maximo Viura, which was citrusy, crisp and very floral. With the salad course of spinach, romaine with blue cheese, and a spring mix salad, we tried the Parducci Sustainable White, also citrusy and crisp, but containing melon. The spinach salad was the favorite of the evening and went best with the wine.

For the salmon course, all three preparations were divine, and voting started to become more difficult. As one course was consumed and cleared, a new plate, new glass, and new wine was before us almost instantly. Switching to reds, we had the Aresti Pinot Noir before us. It is a “big” red, juicy with cherry and cinnamon flavors. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, we were trying pork dishes with a Vinocopia Malbec which was slightly fruitier.

The beef course with the Cannonball Cabernet sent Laurie over the edge. “This is like a food orgy! I don’t want it to end!” As she good-naturedly complained that the rest of us were all getting much larger wine pours than herself, Nate appeared with a new bottle. “You’re all getting much bigger pours than me,” joked the sober manager. Between the food, the wine, the humor and the service, I started feeling guilty that I get to do this for work, but the wine buzz quickly brought me back to my senses just in time for the dessert course.

To satisfy our sweet cravings, we were presented with three indescribable desserts and a taste of the Deinhard Beeren Ausleese dessert wine to top it all off. In what seemed like fifteen minutes, three hours went by without a care, and a few had to stay behind for a while in order to get ready to drive home. Those staying at the hotel had not very far to go…

Though we earned the right to hear the winners, you must go to Randolph’s to find out whether your favorites made the cut!