IMG_2160Just another hotel restaurant? Not Randolph’s Restaurant and Bar in the Warwick Denver Hotel, where Chef Jean Claude Cavalera is foraging his own mushrooms, creating his own desserts and pastries, baking his own bread and smoking his own salmon—and bringing it all to the table. Here, what appears typical is instead notable, and for my friend and I lunch was one filled with happy surprises.

Take, for instance, the crispy calamari—an appetizer served to the point of boredom in bars and restaurants all over the city. On Randolph’s menu it read plain, but what showed up were tender rings and tentacles coated in chickpea flour and cornmeal, providing the calamari with a wonderful, extra-nutty crunch. Each piece was light, greaseless and addictive, especially when paired with a drizzle of lemon basil aioli and bright, fruity tomato sauce.

There was also “Randolph’s signature burger,” which like the calamari seemed unassuming, but ended up being one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. The loose-packed ground sirloin was juicy and deeply beefy, paired with bleu cheese, roasted mushrooms, thick-cut pepper bacon and onions caramelized almost into a thick jam. All of this came in a soft and squishy bun that held up nicely against the burger and toppings, and the accompanying twice-fried french fries were excellent, too.

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I had hesitated at the chicken Marsala special since sad versions abound, but here the breast pieces were tender and juicy, the sauce flavorful and the sides of spinach and Yukon gold mashed potatoes delicious. Salmon bruschetta, while also not usually on the lunch menu, was a winner as well—the chef’s own thick-cut smoked salmon (produced in Grand Lake, CO) was layered atop a dense, house-made wholegrain bread spread with shallot and parsley remoulade, then drizzled with truffle oil and cracked black pepper.

We ended our meal with a blackberry tartlet drizzled with crème anglaise, another tasty creation by Chef Cavalera…you might just call him the man who does it all.

So don’t let the idea of a “hotel restaurant” fool you—Randolph’s is serving up meals that earn the place definite destination status. Better grab a seat out on that patio while you can.

Randolph’s Restaurant and Bar
1776 Grant Street