Hungry? Here’s Where to Eat in February

Up this month: a Cherry Creek brunch spot, a sustainable sushi restaurant and an inventive lunch-dinner space for chocolate lovers

hedge-row

Hedge Row Photo by Cassandra Stiltner

Hedge Row 
American bistro

My husband has been down on brunch. “It’s too trendy,” he says. “The lines are too long.” “I refuse to wait for eggs.” Always with an excuse to skip my favorite meal, which mixes sweet and savory (and champagne!) with such deftness. But a recent visit to Cherry Creek to check out Hedge Row’s new brunch menu had him suddenly changing his tune: “Why don’t we go to brunch more often?”

No doubt, we’ll be returning soon to this laid-back, chic, light and bright spot. From the owners of The Kitchen and open since July, Hedge Row, which serves wood-fired food from local farmers and purveyors, started its weekend brunch service in January (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), offering American standards with some inspired interpretations.

We started off sweet with the Maple Old Fashioned Doughnut, $4 (“It tastes like a funnel cake,” our 11-year-old declared), Bourbon Pecan Sticky Bun, $4 (she scolded me for eating the last bit: “I wanted to save that!”), Pear-Cardamom Coffee Cake, $4 (my husband’s fave) and Spiced Whole Wheat Carrot Muffin, $4 (not too sweet, it felt almost healthy).

On to the savory: It was Wisdom Farms Poached Eggs, $13, for me—a lovely dish with green shakshuka, chickpeas, crema and toast that required Instagramming before the yolks could be broken. For him, it was the Slow-Roasted BBQ Pork Spoonbread, $15, a hearty delight with its barbecue pulled pork, sunny-side-up egg and justright cornbread. Next time: I’m getting The Wild Mushroom Toast, $14, with soft scrambled eggs, red kale and ricotta salata.

Our daughter dove into her Buttermilk Belgian Waffle, $12, served with vanilla crème anglaise and orange-pistachio butter with a side of Tender Belly bacon, $6. She gave it two thumbs up, but proclaimed she’d be ordering the spoonbread next time.

And, since a boozeless brunch is really just a gloomy late breakfast, be sure to order the Real Dill Bloody Mary, $8, Mimosa with prosecco and orange juice, $10, or, my pick, the Aperol Spritz with aperol, prosecco and soda, $11. Cheers to bringing brunch back!

100 Steele St., 720.642.8292

bamboo-sushi

Photo by Rachel Adams

Bamboo Sushi
Sustainable Japanese

There’s sushi, and then there’s fight-your-friends-over-the-last-morsel-of-every-roll sushi. At Bamboo Sushi, a LoHi eatery that opened in November, you’ll be (politely) up in arms—or chopsticks—your entire meal. What sets the Portland-based restaurant concept apart: Bamboo is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant.

Every piece of fish, every ingredient, even the restaurant décor, comes from a renewable source. Case in point: “Our octopus is hand-caught in Spain by a diver we know personally,” says founder Kristofor Lofgren. “It took us three and a half years to find him.” The menu, created by chef Jin Soo Yang, balances traditional sushi (sashimi, nigiri, poke) with modern takes full of surprise ingredients. The XO flank steak plate, $16, with its accompanying pan-seared mushrooms and crispy garlic, is a perfect bite for anyone not in the mood for raw fish. The crab and cucumber Kimono roll, $17, topped with pickled apple, lime zest and fried sage, is refreshing; the tempura-fried long bean and green onion Green Machine, $11, will have you thinking of going vegetarian; and with the tempura shrimp and albacore tuna Showdown, $15, topped with a spicy poblano sauce, you’ll hit sushi euphoria.

Thirsty? Order a bottle of the restaurant’s exclusive Bamboo sake, $65. “It’s made in Kobe, Japan, for us by a small-batch family brewer,” Lofgren says. “We’re the first company they’ve made sake for outside the family.” The beer, Japanese whisky, shochu and cocktail menus are equally tasty. Our advice: Order two of everything.

2715 17th St., 303.284.6600

chocolate-lab

Courtesy Chocolate Lab

Chocolate Lab 
Dishes with a sweet twist 

“Chocolate is like love—you can never get enough.” If that’s your credo, put Chocolate Lab on your 2018 to-do list. Owner Phil Simonson, who launched his confectionary eight years ago next month, added a full 24-seat restaurant last May that serves lunch and dinner seven days a week. “I’m just a little crazy,” he says by way of explanation. “Someone suggested I try a chocolate dinner for fun, and we were hopping and rolling, with 120 guests in three days.”

That was all the encouragement he needed. His latest menu, most of the dishes including at least a hint of chocolate, features small plates (mouth-watering medjool dates wrapped in bacon and drizzled with chocolate balsamic), garden items such as cherry tomatoes with balsamic and white chocolate champagne foam, a trio of flatbreads (we tried a yummy version with pears, onion, gorgonzola and chocolate balsamic) and sandwiches (including the popular pulled pork with bourbon-chocolate barbecue sauce). As for entrées, we tried chocolate linguini with lemon chicken in vodka cream sauce and butternut squash ravioli in sage brown butter. Perfect for chocoholics, but Simonson says, “A lot of people are foodies who want to try something different.” Different? Yes. Delish? You bet.

2504 E. Colfax Ave., 720.536.5037

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