My girlfriend any I have set ourselves on a Restaurant Week quest: 5 restaurants in two weeks. That’s one dinner every three or four days, and a blog to go with it. We’d have liked to do more, but I’m not sure if our wallets could handle it. We’re going to stick to the $52.80 menu with no “additional cost” options. We want to know how much you get for your money during Restaurant Week. How many restaurants see this as an opportunity to give Denverites a great meal at a great price, and how many are just trying to keep their profit margins high? Trillium was our first stop on the journey, Saturday night, and they’re definitely putting their best foot forward.
They decided to give four options for each course (check out their RW menu here), with no “shared” dishes. I liked that, because it meant that we got to try a bunch of different things. The bread at Trillium is excellent, but don’t have too much. They don’t skimp on portion sizes and we left stuffed! I started with the roasted beet pudding. The “pudding” comes in the style of a mini Yorksire pudding, a moist little cake, slightly purple, topped with bitter radish sprouts and goat cheese. The greens and savory cake go well together, but don’t forget about the black pepper honey drizzled on the plate. There’s nothing wrong with scraping when it’s for something this good, and the sweetness of the honey is the perfect compliment to the dish. Keri, my girlfriend and partner in crime, got the Steelhead trout raaka. Like a trout tartar with shallots, apple and fennel, you’ll get a little mound of this tasty stuff and a couple slices of grilled rye bread. If you’re looking for a light app, this super-fresh fish might be for you.
When it came time to pick an entree, I heard the Harris Ranch beef tenderloin calling to me. I love a good cut of beef. But I decided to trust Chef Leinonen to do something magical with the humble chicken. I’m glad I did, because I was blown away. I received an herbed, golden brown chicken breast glistening with bits of bacon atop a generous pile of fat ribbons of tender egg noodle, dripping with butter and bacon vinaigrette. The bacon flavor was pleasant but not overwhelming, the chicken as juicy as any I’ve ever had (no offense, mom) and the imported Italian egg noodles were superb. I have to admit that the Brussels sprouts were significantly underdone, but still edible. Keri is a Pescetarian, so she picked the roasted beet, quinoa and goat cheese “ravioli.” That’s “ravioli” because the little pockets were formed of sliced roasted beet instead of pasta. She loved it, and said it went well with the seared Redbor kale and toasted hazelnuts in the middle of the dish. Make sure to try each element of the dish individually as well, to get the full experience. One small complaint was that the “crispy turnips” on top of it (see pic below) were not actually crispy. If you’re interested then get it now, it won’t be on the menu after Restaurant Week.
Now I am but a Padawan in the mystery cult that is panna cotta, so when I tell you that the Novo espresso & chocolate panna cotta I had that night was the best I’ve ever tasted, you might be skeptical. To say it jiggled would be an insult, and yet it was not entirely solid. The caramelized condensed milk served atop it caused the surface of the dessert to dip almost imperceptibly, betraying the yielding nature of suspension below. Chocolate and coffee wed in perfect union, quivering, cleaving like wet jello, hanging off the end of my spoon like a tease. In this elegant composition there were suspended the tiniest flecks of espresso bean which burst like fireworks against my tongue. It was sublime. Which is not to diminish the pleasures of Boompa’s Swedish pancakes, an excellent and winning dessert that Keri chose. The alpine berry tea ice cream and drizzled blueberry sauce elevated the little crepe-like pancakes and made for a satisfying coda to the meal.
But oh, that panna cotta…
Geoff Phillips is the Food & Booze desk editor for 303 Magazine. A compulsive foodie, he's constantly on the lookout for offerings that are new, fresh and reasonably priced. If he's not at the farmer's market he's probably browsing recipes.