Food bloggers can be inundated with opportunities, to the point that there can be a feeling of dread going through mail each day. Press releases galore with the hopes that we will mention a product on our blogs, offers of samples to do the same and sometimes the wackiest most off the wall requests ever; a friend was just ‘invited’ to do a thorough job of researching activities for travelers in her town and doing an accompanying post all for the reward of having her site linked in the print piece. So when those bright stars appear, and they occasionally do, it’s a delight for the senses. One such communication recently came my way from Deborah with the Omni Hotel in Interlocken, located in Broomfield, Colorado which is a bit more than halfway from my home to Boulder. Would I like to join them with some friends and sample their latest specialty menu for ‘Street Food’ that would be running through April in The Tap Room?
Having experienced one of the most fabulous meals ever when I was invited to visit last year during their series highlighting French food, I readily accepted. I was joined by my friend Karen from Savoury Table who had accompanied me last year and we each were asked to bring a guest so Holly from A Bakers House and Ansh with Spice Routes would be joining us too; we all knew each other so it promised to be a fun and delicious day. Great friends and great food (not to mention a tasty beer) and it was the perfect antidote for a gloomy Saturday afternoon.
Omni Hotels invited us to “Travel the World in Just One Bite.” Sous Chef Troy Micheletti welcomed us to The Tap Room, Omni’s more casual restaurant with a wide selection of beers on tap. The Tap Room has a regular menu always available; this specialty ‘Street Food’ menu will be served through March. More than 100 chefs from San Antonio to Singapore competed to create street food inspired dishes made popular in their homeland. Troy was so generous with his time as he shared how this menu came about; providing details about each dish. Street food has evolved far beyond what I experienced when I first came to Denver and would occasionally stop at a stand for fresh, homemade tamales; it’s become a global experience, a real delight for the senses all in your own backyard.
I’ll be honest; I’ve never felt the need or had the intentions to be a restaurant reviewer. I did meet one once for breakfast and felt that I should have come wearing my wide brimmed hat and large sunglasses to hide my identify. That is not what I do and I know that these visits do see restaurants put their best foot forward. However, the conversations I’ve had with their staff make it clear that customer satisfaction is their priority. Upon arriving, no one knew why we were there and I was impressed from the start with the young men greeting us in the lobby who were particularly gracious and helpful. Those first impressions mean so much. The food we experienced; the attention paid to us by the delightful Emily and our time with Troy only accentuated that first impression.
Now, how about that food? There were four of us. The food put on our table could have easily fed 24. I am not kidding. They had decided that to let us really experience their ‘Street Food’ offerings that it would be best to give us actual portion sizes of SIX different menu items; served in two courses. I think we all dug in a bit with the first offerings and by the 2nd round we were taking bites and nibbles and yes, we did bring the leftovers home. I don’t know about the others but I know my daughter Emily appreciated that I was able to take her an entire meal that evening!
Here are the dishes we enjoyed:
Chicken Musakhan Sandwich – Musakhan is a common Middle Eastern dish of chicken, onions and sumac that varies by family recipe.
Citrus and Braised Lamb Tostada – Braised using a secret family recipe, lamb is melded with simple ingredients served with a Latin twist.
Acaraje de Orixa – Acaraje is a delicacy of the Afro-Brazilian cuisine, prepared with a ground black-eyed pea and shrimp paste, the cooked rolls are topped with a large shrimp.
Short Rib and Vermont Cheddar Sandwich – A satisfying and savory treat bursting with New England flavors of family farm beef, native produce, Vermont Cheddar and local artisan brioche.
Duck Empanada with Smoked Tomato Mayo – This empanada is filled with a flavorful duck confit paired with a sweet and smoky tomato vinaigrette featuring flavors from Latin America, France and Asia.
Famous Peddler’s Char Kway Teow – Stir fried flat rice noodles are a popular dish throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Made famous by local street food vendors, it’s presented with a modern twist.
I love that they have put not only the menu but the recipes online as well…sure made it easy to re-create one of the dishes. I enjoyed everything but my favorites were the Lamb Tostadas, the Duck Empanadas and the Short Rib Sandwich…which I decided to recreate – I guess that pretty much clarifies where my top vote went doesn’t it? I made a few changes to their version, preferring to make a smaller portion and using beef stock in lieu of veal stock because it is readily available. I also added a bit of horseradish sauce to my sandwich but that is just personal preference and not a part of any recipe (but if you love beef and horseradish by all means do it!). The most difficult part? Finding the right bread. They use a brioche from a bakery in Boulder; I did not have the time between house showings to bake bread too so I finally located some Texas toast at the grocery; it had to be thick slices and that worked. Holly made some fabulous brioche buns and shared some with me; I ‘almost’ thought about doing short rib sliders with them but I really wanted to showcase a big ole sandwich!
I also love that Ansh is already planning to take her book group to The Tap Room; enjoying the food of this establishment isn’t limited to being a guest of the hotel…all you have to be is a guest of the restaurant!
In the meantime…this sandwich is SO good and even though the short ribs take some time on the stovetop, the actual effort to make them is pretty easy and the sandwich is amazing…you must try it too – is there an Omni Hotel in your neck of the woods?
Sincere thanks to the Omni for spoiling us, to Sous Chef Troy Micheletti who gave us so much of his time and attention and to Emily for being such a gracious and knowledgeable server. We had a great time and I even got a second go around with my favorite…this sandwich truly is ‘the bomb.’