A Tasteful Twist

01 Jun

This week is a window into another passion of mine, food and the restaurant business. This is an industry fraught with failure, which I attribute to a combination of an unclear concept and an inadequate or improper marketing strategy. So many restaurants believe they can become a neighborhood favorite by simply combining faithful menu items, a kitschy format or theme, and low prices. In reality, this just makes them one more of those restaurants in the community with no differentiable qualities, that really doesn’t make you want to come back. In short, they venture to be everything to everybody, MARKETING NO NO #1, and more often then not, fall short in delivering on one of the crucial elements of a good restaurant, service or food, resulting in insufficient business.

As the length of our work days continue to increase, the time available to wind down after hours becomes more precious. For working professionals, this often means the only time to relax is over a meal at the end of the day, representing a tremendous opportunity for restauranteurs. This group calls every city in the country home, they are looking for an everyday place to put their feet up, a place where they can meet friends, and a place that has them thinking about the next time they will be able to get there. They want quality in food, beverage, and service, and they don’t mind paying for it! And they come here as much for the great food, as they do for the atmosphere, ambiance, and the feeling they get as soon as they set foot through that door.

Living in Reno, it is really hard to find decent eats, so on a recent trip to Denver I took some time to explore the city and discovered Euclid Hall, a restaurant that delivers on absolutely every level of its conceptual foundation, the modern gastropub. A gastropub is a pub style restaurant that offers typical pub favorites, like salty beer snacks, soups, sandwiches and salads, enhanced by an enlightened culinary perspective, served in a modern pub setting, and accompanied by an extensive selection of craft beer, wine, and cocktails. This is a concept that resonates with the growing young professional segment of our population. And, at Euclid Hall, the decor, menu, and service all work in complete harmony to support this culinary concept, attract the right clientele, provide an incredible dining experience, and build a sustainable business for the owners.

Here is a review of Euclid Hall that truly “SAYS IT ALL” about this great restaurant.

I recently flew into Denver for a job interview in with Beaver Creek Resort in the Vail Valley. Following a pre-dawn flight in on a Monday morning, a 2 hour pre-dawn drive up to the resort, a stellar performance throughout a full day of interviews, and a 3 hour drive back to Denver, I was desperately in need of some relaxation! I also needed to citify myself before returning to the Biggest Little City, and some quality culinary exploration was the only ticket. My girlfriend had been researching restaurants in Denver and found Euclid Hall on Yelp. I checked out the menu and made plans with some friends for the evening.

The Ambiance and Decor:
When I walked up, I could tell this was a special place. Euclid sits on a quiet street just outside Larimer Square, and is housed in an old building with some interesting history,simply adorned by an understated white neon sign on the second story.

The steep entryway stairs lead your eyes right into the busy open kitchen full of serious looking cooks. My ears quickly tuned into the inviting sounds of a busy pub and the great music coming from overhead, and my nose was filled with the incredible smells wafting through the space. My senses were alive in a way they hadn’t been at a restaurant for quite some time, and I was excited.

After I came back to reality, I noticed the warm exposed brick, accented by modern polished aluminum decor and tables, and the very cool opening in the ceiling uniting the two levels of the building. We were taken upstairs by the host and greeted by Chad, our culinary tour guide through Euclid Hall.

The Food:
We started with beer, and I asked questions about IBUs of specific beers on tap, which were answered with incredible proficiency. We landed on a belgian style wheat beer that was perfect with everything we ate.

First round included: Crispy pigs ears, an  E- Dog (corndog with a housemade turkey sausage), and the Hand Cranked Sausage Sampler (one link each of German Style Weisswurst, Beef Shortrib Keilbasa, Boudin Noir, and Hopwurst)

The pigs ears were great. I was expecting a big fried crispy ear to come out of the kitchen (ala Michael Symon or Chris Cosentino) but instead a small basket of lightly breaded strips arrive on a wooden cutting board with homemade ranch and buffalo sauce. The ears must be prepared by pressure cooking or braising them for a long time to acheive the tender texture, and then breaded and fried to crispy perfection. They didn’t really have a flavor of their own, but the sauces were great and they were the perfect beer snack.

The sausages, grilled to perfection, arrived on a bed of german style cabbage, and side plate containing four types of house made mustard (horseradish, spicy brown, bourdeaux and a classic whole grain yellow). All the sausages had the perfect snap and wonderfully unique flavor profiles.The two best were the boudin noir, full of garlic and other spices, and a fantastic texture, and the Short Rib Kielibasa, which was perfectly smoked and incredibly juicy from all of the delicious beef fat in the raw shortrib product. The Hoppwurst was interesting because of the actual hops in the sausage, but the weisswurst was fairly bland.

Left to Right: Crispy Pigs Ears and Handcranked Sausage Sampler

Round 2… Chads choice… two of the most inventive dishes I have had in a while… Roasted Cauliflower Salad and Lamb Poutine.

The cauliflower salad was incredible. The roasted cauliflower was placed in a long dish on a bed of Shishito Pepper Marmalade (a sweet and spicy pepper from Japan) and garnished with green onions and tempura crunchies. The combination of the marmalade with the extremely tender and slightly charred cauliflower and the texture from crunchy tempura bits was perfect. Though it will never come close, I will try to make this at home.

The lamb poutine was great. Well done fries are served with perfectly seared lamb and tender braised lamb, covered in a smoked red wine type gravy, and garnished with tangy goat cheese and micro sorel. The combination is incredible, and the sorel added the perfect peppery bite to cut through the richness of this dish. I only wish there was more of each ingredient on our plate because it was tough to achieve the perfect bite.

Left to Right: Roasted Cauliflower Salad and Lamb Poutine

Round 3… Dessert…
Sourdough Waffle Ice Cream sandwich with salted butterscotch ice cream, interesting and delicious, though dont expect the sourdough to show itself when eaten with the ice cream, make sure and try the waffle seperately to see what it’s all about, and the S’mores Pot au Creme, incredibly light marshmallow fluff floating on top of an incredible chocolate custard and served with a homemade graham cracker. The perfect way to end a meal.

Left to Right: S'Mores Pot Au Creme and Sourdough Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich

The Absolute Acknowledgement of a Great Restaurant:
Having gone on this journey with two friends who may have never set foot into this place, or any one like it had it not been for my visit, I asked what they thought as the meal wrapped up.

The resounding statement was, “The pigs ears were really good!”, which was remarkable coming from someone who would have never even thought to put them in his mouth before that night, and “We’ve really never eaten this way, ordering, sharing, and exploring a menu with friends. This is certainly something we would love to do again.”

If you are in Denver, you owe it to yourself to go to Euclid Hall. You are guaranteed to leave happy and looking forward to the next time!

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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


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