Black Forest Disappointment

Black Forest Exterior - B

I really, really wanted to like the Black Forest Restaurant in Nederland. Sadly, reality during a recent visit makes me admit that the food was a huge disappointment and both the service and ambience could use some spiffing up.

The Black Forest opened in the quiet mining town of Black Hawk in 1959 and successfully continued in that location for 42 years. When gambling arrived in Black Hawk the property gave way to a casino. Wilhelm Lorenz built a new restaurant 11 miles north in Nederland, the Black Forest home since 2000.

I think the large building has an Old World feel, as if picked up somewhere in the Alps and re-deposited in the Colorado Rockies. The Garden Room with an indoor waterfall and greenery looks toward the Continental Divide. With aspen trees immediately outside the Black Forest Waterfall - Bwindows the booths around the edge of the room almost feel like sitting in a tree house. The Hunting Room offers a more formal location for evening dining. The large Lounge must be a busy location after the nearby ski lifts close during the season.

We stopped for an early lunch the day after a busy holiday weekend; therefore, I will cut them a little slack. Some of my disappointment could be caused by shortages. Our waitress apologized for disappearing midway through our lunch saying, “They sent me to the store.” A waiter did pick up her duties while she was gone.

I ordered wiener schnitzel which the menu clearly states is a veal cutlet. I’m not an authority but would swear my blackened (not blackened in the Cajun sense but in the too long on the grill sense) meat was pork. I’ve never seen veal of that texture. The red cabbage could well have been out of a jar, nothing special or homemade in the taste. Ditto with the German potato salad, which was served cold. The bread was definitely a store bought multi-grain just like the loaf on our kitchen counter at home. Something’s wrong when the best dish of the meal is an iceberg lettuce salad with one cucumber slice and two grape tomatoes. The red onion vinaigrette dressing was nicely balanced.

Black Forest Interior - BBob found his sauerbraten acceptable. But, he’s pretty easily pleased. His potato pancake had been on the grill with my meat – too long. We had no complaints with the accompanying chunky applesauce. Bob ordered two servings of the “Homemade Ice Cream”. The molded dessert was so cold it was impossible to get more than a mere shaving at one time. While the chocolate bits added flavor there was no hint of creaminess. Our tab came to $40 + tip, too much for the quality and quantity.

Service was quirky. When we were seated the tables were set with silver pitchers of ice water. Halfway through the meal a waiter came by and picked up the pitcher – without a word and never to return. Why? This was not the case at any other table.

Much of the décor feels dated and well used. Near the door I couldn’t ignore the old movie screen and other items stowed behind a plant looking more discarded than stored. The open newspaper and glass of water on a bar table made me think the cook had probably been there only moments before. First impressions do make a difference.

When I Google “Black Forest Restaurant Nederland” I find their domain has expired. This seems indicative of the overall operation.

I do wish this Colorado tradition could live up to its potential. Soon!

 Crested Butte Restaurant Week

June 3-11, 2011

SoupconLast Steep Sign

It’s a great week for foodies in Crested Butte. The magic number is 8885, saluting the town’s altitude. Parties of four can savor multi-course meals for $88.85; smaller parties will pay $22.21 per person. Each restaurant presents special week-long deals – sometimes including wine or alcoholic beverages. Taxes and gratuities are not included. Establishments that do not serve dinner plan to feature multi-course lunches at $8.85 per person.

We see many of our CB favorites on the participant list – Donitas for killer margaritas and Mexican, pasta and desserts at Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle and good old reliable The Last Steep. Participating restaurants in Mt. Crested Butte include local favorite, Avalanche Bar & Grille, 9380 Prime and Woodstone Grille.

Lodging specials at B&Bs, lodges and hotels start at $88.85. The snowpack is receding, there are even some wildflowers popping up. It’s time to break out the hiking boots and mountain bikes to work up a healthy appetite for delicious dining during Crested Butte Restaurant Week.

From Mt. Crested Butte - B

Eric's Fox - B

  Yellow Flower - B

                                                                    Photos provided by Eric Yackel.   

 

Family-Style Fried Chicken & All the Fixin’s

Grandma’s Sunday fried chicken dinner is a treasured memory from my youth. When visiting Crested Butte, Colorado we’ve established the tradition of Sunday night dinner at The Slogar for family-style platters of fried chicken and all the fixin’s.

Slogar Exterior - Large

The weathered building was built in 1882 when it was one of 18 taverns in the mining town of Crested Butte. The Slogar was the first one the miners came to each evening as they came down from the Big Mine on the Bench. Stepping into he 21st-century Slogar feels like stepping into a 19th-century movie set. The antique bar, back bar and red upholstered Victorian furniture set the stage.

As soon as we’re seated our cheerful waitress, Kelli, brings bowls of cottage cheese, tomato chutney and a relish tray with celery and carrot sticks, butter pickles and cinnamon pear slices. My favorite is the sweet/sour coleslaw made from an early 1800s Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. Is this like Grandma’s, or not?

Kelli soon returns with our drink order and a basket filled with homemade baking powder biscuits accompanied by crocks of honey butter and homemade strawberry preserves. After tasting the preserves you’ll want to purchase a couple of jars to take home. Wish I could make biscuits as good as Slogar’s to go with the strawberries!

Slogar Chicken Dinner Our waitress offers to refill any of the dishes; but, knowing what’s ahead we decline. After clearing the debris from the first round Kelli brings out a platter piled high with crispy skillet fried chicken – four pieces per person. The flavorful recipe dates back to 1915. Since I prefer dark meat I negotiate my breast for Eric’s thigh – chicken pieces, of course. We pass around the dishes of mashed potatoes, gravy and creamed whole kernel corn. Once around and the mashed potato bowl is empty. Kelli quickly brings a refill as well as more biscuits.

Our table falls silent as we dig in; after all, we’ve eaten lightly all day saving up for The Slogar. We note that the same thing happens at other tables. As soon as the main course is served conversation ceases, eating is paramount.

My only complaint is the thin gravy. Our family has always made a thick cream gravy with the chicken pan drippings; it’s hard to change expectations. Also, if they provided a bread plate one wouldn’t have to work so hard keeping the biscuit from getting soaked with thin gravy and corn cream.

As we sit back with satisfied sighs Kelli brings individual dishes of rich vanilla ice cream. We like to top the ice cream with any leftover preserves. Yum! Eric gets the doggie bag of four chicken pieces and biscuits for tomorrow’s lunch.

Slogar Sign When You Go: The Slogar Bar and Restaurant is open nightly 5-9pm. Steaks ($26.95) and a vegetarian entree are offered in addition to the fried chicken dinner. Specialty beers, wine list and full bar are available. The chicken dinner is $15.95/adult, $8.95/children 2-12, and includes ice cream, tea coffee and milk. The restaurant is located at 517 2nd St., at the corner of 2nd and Whiterock. Reservations strongly advised, 970-349-5765.

The Slogar changed ownership a couple of years ago. All the positives including traditional recipes remain. The reception, attitude and cleanliness are much improved.

Revisiting Farro Italian Restaurant

Almost one year ago I wrote about the newly opened Farro Italian Restaurant in Centennial. Two recent visits stirred me to update readers.

A couple of weeks before Christmas Bob and I stopped into Farro’s for a quick dinner between shopping chores. WFarro Interiore hadn’t tried their pizza and decided to split the “Meat Lovers” and a romaine salad. Although we told the waitress we were okay eating off the same salad plate, the kitchen accommodated by splitting the romaine lettuce tossed with Ciabatta croutons, Parmesan and lemon garlic Dressing. We were highly impressed by the pizza topped with red sauce, sausage, prosicutto, salami, pancetta and cheese. The thin crust, light hand with the red sauce, flavorful meats and cheese came together in a 12-inch pizza we couldn’t stop eating until every crumb and crust was devoured.         [Photos courtesy Farro Restaurant]

Farra Zuppa

Last night I joined three women friends, none of whom had been there before, for a leisurely dinner at Farro. From the  satisfied sighs it’s safe to say they will return. Three of us started with cups of the Tuscan white bean zuppa with prosciutto and extra virgin olive oil – delish. With the basket of warm breads I could have eaten a quart of the soup.

Mary ordered lasagna, Gayle the meat pizza, and I returned to the Tuscan meatloaf. Carol chose orecchietTuscan Meatloafte pasta with sausage, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. Our forks all made the tasting round of everyone’s entrees. I have to get back soon to order the orecchiette; I love Gorgonzola and this sauce was perfect without being overpowering nor too thick and heavy.                                              [Photo by Nancy Yackel]

This group never passes up desserts and last night was no exception. We shared double chocolate mousse and the pumpkin mascarpone cheesecake with a gingersnap cookie crust. Although I’m not as much of a chocolateholic as the others I have to admit the kahlua enhanced mousse was mighty good. The cheesecake was a nice alternative.

A large sign outside the door and a flier in the bill holder announced the beginning of Monday thru Friday lunch service starting January 4, 2010. I’ll report another update after a noon-time visit.

Our one negative – we spotted several errors on our bill. There were promptly corrected with apologies but I will watch closely on my next visit to make sure this was a one time occurrence.

The group lingered deep in conversation long after dessert . Until we left we had no idea we’d overstayed closing time, not done intentionally. The staff certainly gave no indication we should leave.

Map picture

When You Go: Farro Italian Restaurant, 8230 S. Holly, Centennial, CO 303-694-5432. Open Monday – Thursday 5-9pm, Friday & Saturday 4:30-9:30pm, Sunday 4:30-8pm. Now open for lunch Monday – Friday 11:30am-1:30pm.

Previous post on Farro Italian Restaurant

 

 

Divine Dinner

Culinary

  Ability                                       Creative

      Supreme,                                    Appetizing

         Presentation,                               Flavorful        

            Incredible                                      Excellence

              Ambience,                                  

                  Nuances          Caspian Cafe Halibut

 

Twelve hours after dinner at the Caspian Cafe in Colorado Springs I’m still sighing with satisfaction. Executive chef Daniel White choreographs a dining experience to be fully savored and long remembered.

I first heard of this Mediterranean bistro and bar on Warren Byrne’s Restaurant Show on Denver’s KEZW. A woman called in absolute ecstasy over the lunch she had just finished. She was standing in the parking lot eager to share news of the outstanding cuisine, service and ambience of the Caspian Cafe.

A week later we were in the Springs for an exhibit at the Fine Arts Center and decided on a late lunch at, “That restaurant the lady on Warren’s show raved about.” We soon discovered she didn’t exaggerate and have returned for lunch when in the area.

Last night we finally made it to the Caspian for dinner. WOW! Owner Moe Sharifi warmly welcomes guests. As our waitress, Tara, described the nightly specials we knew we didn’t need to read the menu; we simply had to make a choice between the meat, fish and pasta features. We wanted a sampler of all three.

Caspian Cafe Prime Rib There was no way I was passing up the Friday night prime rib rubbed with Mediterranean herbs and sundried tomatoes, served in a pomegranate au jus with a side of horseradish sauce. Bob decided on the Alaskan halibut and scallops. I can’t remember everything that was in the topping – tomatoes, mushrooms, capers, orange and lemon juices – but the blend of flavors was outstanding. Mashed potatoes seasoned with garlic, dill and Greek yogurt accompanied the prime rib; the halibut rested on a bed of rice. Both dinners came with baby carrots and sugar snap peas sautéed with beans and onions.

Caspian Cafe Dessert Having skipped lunch in anticipation of dinner indulgence, we devoured an appetizer of Baba Ghanouj, grilled pita and lavosh as we awaited our entrees. And, for dessert, we could not resist the orange and saffron flavored custard with caramel sauce attractively presented with a ring of sliced strawberries.

I couldn’t help but overhear the discussion at the table behind me as they tried to make their menu choices –lamb tagine with artichokes, gyros platter, Moroccan roast chicken, sambousek or the prime rib (which I, of course, recommended). We were tempted to linger until they were served just to hear their reactions.

It was a quiet Friday evening. I suspect most people were home with turkey sandwiches. Thankfully we dined divinely at the Caspian.

When You Go: Caspian Cafe, 4375 Sinton Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, 719-528-1155. Located east of I-25, just south of Garden of the Gods Road. Open for lunch Monday through Saturday, 11am-4pm. Open for dinner nightly from 4pm, until 10pm on Friday and Saturday, until 9pm Sunday through Thursday.

Closed

The Sunnyside Cafe in Highlands Ranch, Colorado bit the dust a few weeks ago while I was out of town. I will miss the whole-wheat cranberry almond pancakes, my favorite breakfast item on their menu. I believe the closure demonstrates how a restaurateur must successfully focus on many facets of their business – menu, food quality, preparation, location, ambiance, and SERVICE.

sunnyside-cafe1On my several visits to Sunnyside I never received quality service; even when they weren’t busy there was an element of inattention. On our last visit in September I influenced a party of eight to meet at Sunnyside. Before the morning was over I wanted to crawl under the table and could only apologize to family and friends for putting them through such an experience. The service was absolutely abominable. We just kept hearing, “We’re busy.” Isn’t that what a successful cafe wants to be? Apparently not!

Eating for Comfort and Friendship

The day started with breakfast  at John G’s on the Beach – my sister’s favorite breakfast place in the world. Polish omelet for her, stuffed croissant of me. We fill to go boxes with half of everything, except the fruit cup, before we start eating. Monday morning in July is a great time for John G’s without having to wait in their famed lines.

Sailfish Marina Sailfish Marina on Singer Island was our dinner destination with friend Janet. It took us forever to make our menu selections because we have so many favorites. Judy and I start with salads. She selects appetizer portion of Caribbean jerk seared scallops, I choose coconut shrimp. We order the penne gorgonzola for the table to share. Janet decides on the beer battered fish and chips with sweet potato fires and sautéed fresh veggies.

Our server was astute in bringing extra plates, spoons, napkins, new glasses of ice tea, boxing and identifying our four boxes of leftovers. We all shared a slice of mango pie for dessert. Mango Dessert - Sailfish Marina

No trip to Sailfish is complete without a walk through the shop. The 50% off Fourth of July sale offered additional temptation. The setting and landscaping at Sailfish always attracts – one of our favorite Palm Beach County locations.

White flower at Sailfish 

Janet's Lillies

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers