Strings is located at Humboldt and 17th near City Park, among a cluster of highly-buzzed restaurants including Parallel 17 and D Bar Desserts. For our Saturday evening reservations, we didn't even bother trying to find a parking spot, and went straight for the valet service.
Strings has been open for an impressive 25 years, and they certainly have the seating area to support a large and dedicated following. The interior of Strings is enormous, with a sprawling main dining area, bar tables, patio seating, a beautiful atrium, and private rooms. It would be a perfect spot for a large party, especially a business dinner.
We arrived about half an hour early for our 7 pm reservations after finishing some nearby errands sooner than expected, which, fortunately, wasn't any kind of problem that happy hour at the bar couldn't fix.
Strings's happy hour menu is limited in both beer and wine selections, but they do offer premium wells, a long list of girly sounding martinis, and some tasty-looking appetizers. I stuck with my usual choice of light beer, while my husband started out with a gin and tonic. We chatted with the bartender for a little bit, and soon learned that she was the buyer for Strings's bar. When my husband asked her for help in selecting a fancy scotch (his buddies drink scotch and he's trying to keep up), she gave us an impromptu lesson in scotch selection. She brought us about seven different bottles, letting us sniff each one, and she explained the fermentation process associated with each type. After selecting his scotch accompaniment for the evening, it was time for my husband and I to get seated.
The hostess seated us in sort of a corridor area, where three tables were lined along the walls on either side. As soon as we got situated, we realized that directly behind the table was the main thoroughfare for waiters grabbing water glasses and silverware. Deciding that the traffic was going to be obnoxious, we tracked down our hostess, who promptly seated us two tables away. In hindsight, considering how much I'm about to gripe about it, we should have asked to be moved a second time, because our new table wasn't any better. Behind where I sat was the hallway to the bathrooms and the bar area, and the non-stop traffic was just as bad in the new location. They could have minimized the traffic nuisance by putting two tables along the corridor area instead of three, but instead they got a little greedy with table space.
Anyway, moving on to something we really loved about Strings: the food. We started with the Crab Cake appetizers, which came with fruit chutney, cranberry puree, curry oil, and crispy onions. Sadly, in our excitement to eat it we forgot to take a picture of the two small crab cakes that arrived.
Next was Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque. I loved the flavor, although the red pepper was much stronger than the tomato, and there was zero effort put into the presentation.
|Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque|
For our entrees, I ordered the full-size Open Face Ravioli, which came with (directly from the menu) Confit Chicken, Egg, Asparagus, Serrano Ham, Sauce Normande. No matter the occasion, I almost never order pasta, but I was curious what open-faced ravioli would entail. What arrived was basically a crepe-sized noodle at the bottom of my plate, topped with the "filling" described. That giant white blob you see in the middle of the plate below was my favorite part of the dish, a poached egg that oozed yolk when I cut into it.
Overall a decent dish, especially the rich and salty serrano ham, but the chicken was a boring and bland choice of protein. I would have preferred something with more flavor and texture (shrimp maybe?).
My husband's entree choice was the Roasted Lamb Sirloin, which came with Confit Shoulder, Edamame, Pearl Onions, Pea Tendrils, Carrot.
|Roasted Lamb Sirloin|
We finished off the meal with the Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake. It reminded us both of the Cheesecake Factory's Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, but in cylindrical form.
|Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake|
Our bill came to $78 for the food described above (booze had all been paid for separately at the bar). All of the dishes we tasted were very well executed, and the staff was excellent. However, nothing really set the food apart from a good meal at a lot of Denver restaurants, and I can't get past how poor of a dining area our table was located in.
Pros: Great food, endless seating options, excellent staff
Cons: Watch out for bad seating areas, food lacking in imagination and presentation for the price