What: Weekend Brunch at Shells and Sauce
Where: Congress Park, 2600 E 12th Ave Denver
When: Saturday and Sunday 10-2:30pm
You’ve got to try: The Eggs Carbonara and a Spicy Bloody Mary while getting some fresh air on one of the two patios.
Shells and Sauce is a Congress Park favorite for their made-from-scratch Italian classics done with some modern twists; however it’s their weekend brunch menu that has me addicted. Walking into Shells and Sauce during a busy brunch service you can expect to find all of the signs of good food to come: filled tables, busy servers, and carafes of mimosas being steadily emptied. This is not the place for a quick bite, this is a brunch to savor. So make a reservation and ask for a seat on the rooftop patio or the street level patio. Then sit back, relax and sip your Spicy Bloody Mary made with house-infused habanero vodka, there’s no rush.
Every dish I tried at Shells and Sauce was one I’d come back for, but the real stand out was the Eggs Carbonara. A rich, creamy white-wine sauce lightly blankets penne pasta, bacon, crisp asparagus and organic peas. Perched on top are two eggs cooked any way you’d like (I went for poached, and they were cooked to perfection). My favorite thing about brunch is that you don’t have to choose between classic breakfast dishes and lunch-time fare, and this dish epitomizes that concept. Bacon and eggs, check. Pasta, check. Fresh veggies, check. All in a hearty portion for a reasonable price (only $9.95), especially for one of the best brunch dishes I’ve tried in Denver.
Another don’t miss menu item is Shells and Sauce’s Fried Chicken and Waffles. After years living in the South, I’ve missed this classic dish since moving to Denver. I was certainly surprised to finally find it being done right at a small neighborhood Italian joint, but right it is. The waffle itself is light and flavorful, yet crusty enough on the outside to maintain its texture even after its soaked in maple syrup and covered in every last bit of the Stranahan’s Whiskey Compound Butter that come on top. You will be craving that butter in your dreams, so savor every bite. The chicken is a boneless breast flawlessly fried with a not too salty flavor and that ideal combination of crunchy and juicy. Crumbled applewood bacon finishes everything off, upping the flavor appeal of this dish even more.
If you’re a benedict addict, don’t worry, Shells and Sauce has plenty of options for you too. I tried the Crab Cake Benedict as I continue my quest to get over my aversion to sea food. The crab cake itself tasted fresh and sat atop toasted brioche. This dish is rich, topped with a velvety hollandaise and avocado pico, it’s a savory, filling brunch pick. The Breakfast Tacos are another unexpected item, yet they’re a brunch crowd favorite. Served with your choice of bacon, Italian sausage or wild mushroom (a great vegetarian option), the chipotle cream and roasted jalapenos give these tacos a craveable flavor and a zesty bite to brunch.
Everything about Shells and Sauce is unpretentious. There’s no white table cloths, the dining room gets loud during a busy service, and the décor is more homey than modern. Their food is all high class, though, making my perfect recipe for a new favorite brunch spot.
Shells and Sauce’s brunch menu offers more than just traditional brunch fare and Italian cuisine. It’s full of enticing dishes and tough choices, so go with friends who like to share and be prepared to take your time enjoying all of the surprises Shells and Sauce has to offer.