I bet that got your attention…but this is definitely a time to read more…
I was invited by Dana Berry, the Director of Public Relations for the Four Seasons Hotel Denver to attend a special lunch in their Edge Restaurant with others in the Denver area that blog about food and are active on Twitter. A Tweetup. An opportunity to get to know an establishment and tweet about it.
Inherent in that invitation I knew two things. The Four Seasons is a well known luxury hotel that had just recently opened in Denver and tweeting about our experience during the event would be a part of the mix. I’m not a restaurant critic (and even if I were, I would be more prone to look for the good; critics seem so…well, critical!) I’m a home cook who loves to prepare foods for my family and friends and share the end results of those efforts with readers through this blog. While this might appear to be a step outside of my normal comfort zone, I’ve done this before when I’ve enjoyed a food experience; I’ve just never been asked to come to a meal for that purpose. Wine yes, food no.
So can I be honest here…can I tell you the truth when my hosts were so gracious and generous? I hope so! I think if I suffer from a particular personality flaw, it’s that I tend to not filter my ‘honest’ thoughts enough, so rest assured that this post is in line with that reputation.
The first thing I noticed; before even meeting Dana was the lack of a pretentious aura upon arrival. I drove my 16 year old Ford Explorer up to valet parking and not one person smirked (frugal all across the board is me!). The two young women who were standing at the host station next to the main dining area were both friendly and knew to expect us, which was nice.
I was escorted to the restaurant’s private dining room where I met Dana. Friendly and outgoing, she made me feel instantly comfortable and my friends and children will be amazed to hear that I was the first there. Yes, it’s true. This was a fabulous room. Small enough to feel intimate but open to both the restaurant on one side and the ‘Oh my I’m in Heaven’ kitchen on the other through a soundproof glass wall. All the action without all the noise.
While waiting for the others to arrive, I ordered a pear iced tea which was served with a simple syrup for sweetening. I especially loved that the ice cubes were frozen pear; the drink got better as the ‘ice’ melted! The waiter who kept the glasses and ice cubes filled was extremely pleasant. Life is good.
The Business Quickie
We were soon joined by Anne Marie Nichols and Jim Guttau, bread was put on the table and our lunches were served in short order. We were all presented with a lunchtime ‘Business Quickie’ (I know…cute huh?). Four small portions of lunch time offerings on the same plate. It was reminiscent of a Bento Box. A beautifully presented and upscale Bento Box. The plate included:
Summer Halibut Ceviche I promised honesty so will probably embarrass myself when I admit that I had never had ceviche. I will never forget someone I knew preparing it many, many years ago and it just never seemed right…that somehow raw fish could be transformed through the use of acid. I’ve since been educated and while understanding the science it was just never something I was interested in trying. That was a mistake. This was perfect. The halibut was fresh and tender with a slight citrus tang from the dressing but not unbearably tart. It was cool and refreshing and the perfect start to my meal.
Sesame Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing and Crisp Wontons What I noticed was how perfectly cooked the chicken was in this dish. I’m fond of using chicken breast meat in dishes but know that it takes the perfect touch to get this meat cooked correctly as it can go from done to overdone in a heartbeat. The meat was tender, the dressing flavorful and the wontons were the perfect crunch for this salad.
Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad with Torn Basil, Olive Oil and Aged Balsamic Vinegar I knew this would be a favorite from the moment I saw it appear; this is so reminiscent of the appetizers I love to prepare for guests to my home. Simple yet outstanding ingredients melded into one fabulous dish. The heirloom tomatoes are so beautiful and flavorful but it was the buffalo mozzarella that was the star of this dish for me. So smooth and creamy, if it weren’t mozzarella I would almost say it was ‘like buttah!’
Petit Steak Frites with House Cut Fries and Peppercorn Sauce I don’t eat a lot of steak so there is nothing I appreciate more than one that is prepared to this level of satisfaction. A New York Strip Steak that was perfectly rare and beyond perfectly tender; it seemed to melt in my mouth. Served with a fabulous peppercorn sauce and house cut fries with thin cut onion ring slices for garnish; this was my favorite, my ‘save the best for last’ dish. Loved.
They were not done. They decided to grace our table with a special dessert assortment; a duo of small bites. Organic Chamomile Panna Cotta with Lemon Oat Crumble and Sweet Roasted Apricots in a small square shot-glass alongside an adorable mini Meyer Lemon Tart with Candied Kumpqats on top of Passion Fruit Gelee. I did not get a photo…I meant to; I really did. But I failed…I think I was so taken in by the adorable little desserts I simply forgot. By this point I was in that place of higher expectations and everything was on point; the size, the presentation and the outstanding flavors.
During the meal we had met both the Executive Chef and the Pastry Chef and afterwards we were escorted into the kitchen. I apologize for this terrible photo…it most certainly must have been the result of elevated endorphins that had me think this blurry picture looked fine. But these two adorable gentlemen are Christopher Jordan, Pastry Chef on the left and on the right, Simon Purvis, the Executive Chef. Chef Purvis hails from Portsmouth, England and could teach Gordon Ramsey a thing or two about grace. Both chefs were gracious and friendly and it was very special to be allowed into their domain. I would love to come back again in the heat of dinner prep and have that same birds-eye view from the private dining area; it would be a sight to behold I’m sure.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t often travel into downtown Denver for lunch. Where to go is one thing but where to park is my single biggest obstacle. With easy valet parking, I will most certainly make this a lunch destination. And you should too. I was dumbfounded to learn that the four selection Business Quickie was $18; an excellent value for such an outstanding lunch. The courses for the Business Quickie are set by the Chef and listed on the lunch menu and we did have some special treatment. However, I’m anxious to come back and enjoy it again with the Kobe Beef Slider!
As if we hadn’t been spoiled enough…Chef Jordan made us a take home package. A ‘Death by Chocolate’ cupcake. Words can not describe it so I won’t try. Here it is. Note the EDIBLE Twitter icons…I mean these guys know how to do it right!
Just a few things to note if you’re local to Denver. If you’re on Twitter, follow the Four Seasons Denver at @FSDenver. If you’re a Foursquare user, the first time you visit the Edge or if you’re the Mayor on Foursquare, login via Foursquare and your first cocktail is free (I may be rethinking Foursquare!). Dana shared some fun things they do for families so although a luxury hotel, it is very family centric so if you have out of town guests coming and want them to stay someplace very special; this is perfect. Spa, pool…the works. If I didn’t live in Denver I would go stay there. In fact, I’ve asked if I could live there.
This might redefine the notion of a ‘Business Quickie’ but I think it’s even better. There is no guilt…well maybe other than the fact that I had that cupcake for a snack later in the day after that fabulous lunch. Really…who can blame me?
Though invited by the management of ‘The Edge’ to visit them for lunch, I paid special attention to the details of our visit so that this review would be an honest one. I know that the staff certainly catered to making this a special experience but this is a high caliber restaurant and I would expect the same level of service if a paying customer.