Bistro Vendôme was one of the first restaurants I got to try after moving to Denver. It was great then and it’s still great now. The waitstaff was incredible, especially when it came to accommodating my request for a table where I could set up my tripod unobtrusively. The lighting was romantic and low key but also terrible for photography, so despite their help the pictures came out a bit sub-par. The food, on the other hand, was top-notch. You’ll find that the whole regular menu is available during Restaurant Week. Bistro Vendôme is a great deal during Restaurant Week. Our meal would have been $65.00 if we had ordered it off of their regular menu. But you will see a lot of “4 pp” stuff on the Restaurant Week menu, meaning four additional dollars per person. I appreciate that they wanted to make their whole menu available for Restaurant Week, but I am a firm believer in the “mile high” price. If you want people to be able to sample some of your best stuff, put it on the Restaurant Week menu without an extra price! Consider it a down payment on a lot of business in the future. I, for one, was sad to see the mussels at “2 pp” extra. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get a good sample of the Bistro without paying extra. Bistro Vendôme offers one hors d’oevre or salade and one entree per guest, and a shared dessert. With the mussels just out of reach (I committed to spending only $52.80 per meal), I started with the Salade de Choux de Bruxelles (Brussels Sprouts Salad).
Brussels sprouts have a pleasant, nutty flavor that is easily lost, but this dish brought it out perfectly. The squash, walnuts and lemon-basil vinaigrette complimented the sprouts nicely, and the pork belly lardons really made everything else in the dish pop. Something in it which I could not identify really made me fall in love with this dish, perhaps it was just that je ne sais quoi. Keri, my beautiful accomplice, got the French classic escargot (pictured on cover). If you’ve never had these little balls of butter and garlic, now is the perfect time to try them. The Bistro does them with a red Burgundy glaze and crunchy bits of brioche–totally delicious. If you’ve got some extra cash to spend, their foie gras is some of the best in Denver. Foie gras is fattened goose liver, though it doesn’t taste like any other liver you’ve had. Light and rich at the same time, foie gras is one of my favorite foods. Luckily the prohibitive price keeps me from gorging myself on it non-stop.
I thought about getting the roasted half chicken, but I didn’t want to set it up against the bird I had at Trillium last week (check out the full review here). It wouldn’t have been fair to the fowl at Bistro Vendôme, so instead I got the Confit de Canard. Confit is an ancient preservation technique that involves cooking the bird in its own fat and then storing it that way. That may sound weird, but the result is delicious, fall-off-the-bone meat with a smokey flavor. As with all things French, the Bistro did it right. The wild mushroom risotto was also excellent, very creamy and ideal to go with the confit. The rest of the dish (spinach salad, truffle beurre blanc) was perfect, except for the squash. Mostly hidden under the risotto was a disc of undercooked and unseasoned squash. I tried to combine it with the risotto but nothing really improved it. It was as though the chef had forgotten all about the poor little squash until it was time to be served, and then tossed it on the plate as an afterthought. Ah, well, c’est la vie. Keri got the Truite Poêlée et sa Purée, otherwise known as pan-roasted trout served on smoked potato puree. Like mashed potatoes but with a delicious smoky flavor, I had never had anything like them. The trout was delicate and flaky, just like you’d want it to be.
For dessert, Keri and I chose the fig tart, which seemed like the most interesting thing on the dessert menu. Stuffed with dried black Mission figs and goat cheese, this little tart was good. The Marcona almond ice cream and fig coulis it came with were also tasty, but nothing took it over the top. I had hoped for an accompaniment that would bring out the fig flavor a bit more. Were I to do it again (and I probably will next year) I think I’d get the chocolate velvet tart instead. Still, I was pleased with the meal we got for Restaurant Week and I’m sure I’ll be back.
Au revoir, Bistro Vendôme!
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