Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rice Bistro & Sushi

Tucked very very deep in the south suburbs lies Rice Bistro & Sushi (or RICE Bistro & Sushi as they have on their website), which my husband, myself and two other friends checked out last weekend.

Rice lies at Holly and Orchard in The Orchards shopping area, in a small building adjacent to a Panera and across the parking lot from a King Soopers. Definitely suburban.

We were there on Saturday night for a very late dinner - I believe we got there a little after 8 pm. The restaurant was maybe half occupied, with a separate bar area that stayed busy through the night.

The menu at Rice lists has just about every imaginable Asian dish, as well as impressive list of cold sakes. But we were just there for the sushi. Oh, and sake too I suppose.

Rice's sushi menu includes all your typical sushi concoctions, as well as an entire page of more ambitious and creative rolls. After asking our waiter for recommendations for a spicy roll, he suggested something off the menu: the explosion roll, containing tuna and cream cheese rolled into a fried egg roll wrapper, and topped with a sweet and spicy sauce.

Explosion Roll

These fried little pieces of heaven were high-calorie and delicious and not quite like anything I've tried before. The sauce was spicy as promised.

We then dug into an assortment of more traditional sushi rolls: a shrimp tempura roll ($6.75), a spider roll ($7.5), an "Alaska" roll (crab, smoked salmon, shrimp, avocado, $10), and a spicy salmon roll ($5.5).

Clockwise from top right: Spider Roll, Spicy Salmon Roll, Alaska Roll, Shrimp Tempura Roll

These were all good rolls, although nothing stood out worth getting excited about.

For our sushi finale, we decided to conclude the meal with something more adventurous: the Mexican Roll ($14), which came with Spicy super white tuna, scallions and jalapeño topped with salmon and guacamole. Our waiter confirmed that the guacamole that comes with the roll was homemade.

Mexican Roll

I was intrigued by the idea of guacamole with sushi. It must be even better than plain avocado with sushi, right? Wrong. It was good but not amazing, and the flavors of the guacamole didn't blend well with the sushi. I probably should have expected that, but I was disappointed nonetheless.

We enjoyed our meal at Rice and our waiter was very helpful and knowledgeable, but nothing from the menu stood out as particularly special. Worth visiting if you're in the area and looking for Asian food.

Casual Dining

(7 of 10)

Pros: Extremely varied menu, good service
Cons: Food is good but nothing special, strip mall location


RICE Bistro & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Snooze is another restaurant that's kind of a big deal, and I've been wanting to go for months now. I mean, this is a place that offers Red Velvet Pancakes, how can you go wrong?

The downside of being kind of a big deal is that everyone else is trying to eat there too. When we stopped by their Centennial location last Sunday morning, a quick look at the crowds standing outside idly made it obvious we were in for a bit of a wait. They also don't take reservations, which was frustrating.

We were told by the staff that our party of 2 would be a 15 to 25-minute wait. That stretched out to about half an hour before we were seated.

Snooze has a pretty jazzy looking interior, with pale green walls, giant orange light fixtures, and huge circular tables. It was, of course, packed to capacity.

Making a decision on our meal selections was tough. There were about five or six dishes we each wanted to try. I'll just refer to you to their full menu. You'll understand our dilemma.

My husband decided on the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes. From the menu: Caramelized pineapple chunks with housemade vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter.

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes

These pancakes were every bit as rich and delectable as you'd imagine. Fluffy, white pancakes filled with sweet pineapple pieces and topped with a rich drizzle of rich sweet cream-cheesy "syrup" that was almost like a glaze.

The only problem? It was way too sweet and rich for the portion size. This is a hyperglycemic attack on a plate.

I didn't notice until after we'd dug in was that Snooze offers "a la carte" pancakes. I really wish we'd just ordered a single pancake alongside something with more nutritional value. The two enormous pancakes were just too much.

Anyway, moving on to my selection: the Breakfast Burrito. From the menu: Filled with scrambled eggs, hash browns, house black beans, cheddar & jack cheese, topped with salsa fresca and your choice of green chili or ranchero.

Breakfast Burrito with Green Chili

This monster was delicious, but why such a measly helping of green chili? I was expecting a far more generous smothering. The burrito was a little bland and would have been outstanding with more green chili flavor in each bite.

My portion was also too big, and even with some help from my lovely partner in crime, we had to push ourselves to finish three-quarters of it.

Our service was alright. Obviously it was a very busy place and I felt like we were rushed a little bit for the sake of table turnover.

I'd definitely return to Snooze, assuming I could get there early enough in the morning to avoid a substantial wait. The menu has too many delicious-sounding items that I have yet to devour.

Everyday Dining

 (7 of 10)

Pros: Great tasting food. Unique options. Cheap.
Cons: Long wait to eat, and they don't take reservations. Beware the full pancake portions (I recommend a la carte pancakes).


Snooze on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boulder Ice Cream: Caramel Pecan and Coconut Crunch

While I've reviewed many different treat shops to date - Gelazzi Gelato, CJ's Custard, and Sweet Action Ice Cream - it's about time I gave my two cents on some sold-in-stores stuff.

I spent over two decades living in Boulder and I never tried Boulder Ice Cream until last week. It went on sale at my local Whole Foods for $2.5/pint, and I figured it was time to put it to the taste test.

Boulder Ice Cream flavors are either All Natural or Organic, and they have about an equal number of varieties in either category. All ice creams are batch churned and use local dairies for milk and cream.

The two flavors I purchased were All-Natural Caramel Pecan, and Organic Coconut Crunch.

The Caramel Pecan was excellent. The ice cream had a smooth, velvety texture and rich flavor that reminded me of Ben & Jerry's.

I love lots of "mix-ins" in my ice cream, so I was happy to see large pecan pieces everywhere. The caramel in this ice cream came in the form of the caramel-flavored ice cream base and caramelized pecans.

Nutritionals and ingredients:

I checked this against some Ben & Jerry's we had in the house and noticed that Boulder Ice Cream contains more fat but less sugar than Ben & Jerry's (this applies to both flavors).

Next up for a taste test was Coconut Crunch.

The coconut ice cream base tasted and smelled strongly of coconut, but that was only the result of added coconut flavor. There's no actual coconut in this ice cream. While I was excited to find a coconut-flavored ice cream, I was disappointed there were no coconut pieces in it.

The "crunch" in the name comes from toffee pieces in the coconut ice cream base. I was hoping for substantial, rich chunks of toffee, but instead found only tiny pieces that didn't contribute a strong toffee taste.

Finally, the texture of the Coconut Crunch wasn't as creamy and smooth as the Caramel Pecan. It was harder to spoon out and had a bit of an icy taste. I'm not sure if this was a result of all-organic ingredients in the Coconut Crunch or if it was due to a different issue. Still, this was a good ice cream flavor, but it didn't impress me like the Caramel Pecan did.

Coconut Crunch Nutritionals:

I definitely preferred the Caramel Pecan, but my husband loved the Coconut Crunch. 

I was very pleasantly surprised with the texture and quality of ingredients in the Caramel Pecan. It rivals some of my favorite national premium ice cream brands, but its base price is more expensive. I'll be happy to buy it again when it goes on sale to promote a local company. 


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beatrice & Woodsley

Beatrice & Woodsley has been on our radar for a while, after we'd heard multiple stories about aspen trees inside and extremely quirky bathrooms. Oh, and delicious food.

Last Sunday night, with four other lucky taste testers joining us, it was time for a visit. Before we even made it to the front door, however, we were greeted with some irritations.

There's barely a sign out front, parking nearby is tricky, and there's no valet. That was my first clue that convenience and comfort aren't top priority at Beatrice & Woodsley. However, if you are able to make it in, you'll be rewarded with one of the most elaborate and unique restaurant settings in Denver.

Bar Area and Entrance

Wood everywhere, chainsaws supporting shelves, and aspen trees right next to your table. The interior was definitely spectacular and a little spooky. There's some imaginary story of a woman marrying a lumberjack behind it all. I really didn't get it.

Bar Area

Beautiful, yes. Comfortable and practical, not really.

The six of us sat at a "normal" looking table, but I noticed many neighboring tables were built of wood and sat almost at the same level as the seating benches. They looked extremely uncomfortable.

Although there were six of us eating, all I've reviewed are the dishes Mr. Oyster and I split.

(Sorry about the dark photos. Spooky lighting = bad iPhone pictures).

We decided to split three small plates. Our first dish was the Crawfish Beignets ($9). From the menu: Crawfish and fresh corn batter, filled with spicy red pepper aioli.

Crawfish Beignets

The beignets were rich had that perfectly doughy, fried texture, but they didn't contain quite enough crawfish for my liking.

Next up was Got Ewe Udder My Thumb ( clever, $13): Ugly Goat ricotta, yogurt and chevre in their own preparations with fried fresh peas, braised carrot and a crisp pasta shell. Note that the "ewe" in the title of this dish is a misnomer as Ugly Goat, I believe, produces only goat dairy - no sheep's milk cheese on this plate.

Got Ewe Udder My Thumb. Translation: Lots of goat cheese

My husband and I both loved this dish, as it was not only wonderfully savory and rich tasting but used local Ugly Goat cheeses.

Our final small plate was A Day at the Peach ($10). From the menu: Spicy peach bbq pork shoulder, succotash salad and pickled watermelon.

A Day at the Peach: BBQ Pork Shoulder
This was also a very nice small plate. While I didn't get much of a peach taste, the pork was extremely tender and pleasantly sweet. The pickled watermelon, however, was way too salty.

The highlight of our meal was definitely dessert. We ordered the Malted Milk Chocolate Custard ($10).

Malted Milk Chocolate Custard
 Disclaimer: We sort of dug in, realized we'd forgotten to take a picture, and then attempted
to reconstruct. It looked better than this at first presentation. Sorry about that. 

The custard came with fresh raspberries, almond florentine cookies, and whipped cream. Every part of this dessert was excellent. The custard had a rich, pudding-like flavor and consistency. We loved it.

The restaurant was only about half full, but service was fairly slow throughout the night.

Now, changing subjects, let's get back to the issues with convenience and comfort at Beatrice & Woodsley.  Let's talk about the bathrooms.

I hated their bathrooms. Some people may think they're fun and quirky and interesting. I didn't. I want privacy and practicality and ease of use in the ladies' room. I had none of these at Beatrice & Woodsley.

Using the bathroom at Beatrice & Woodsley involves one irritation after the next. First, you need to figure out how to get into the toilet areas (Just push the door. I know, it looks weird. There's only one toilet in there, so if you can't get in it's because the door is locked). Then, you need to face an entire restaurant of people staring at you as you try to wash your hands. Getting the water to flow involves pulling on these chain thingees, waiting forever for the water to flow down, attempting to wash your hands, realizing the soap is some powdery garbage, and then waiting forever for the water flow to stop when you're done.

This may be in a tie with Root Down for worst restroom situation, and Beatrice & Woodsley's problems are completely self-inflicted.

Overall, food was very good but not spectacular. The decor was beautiful, but only exciting enough to draw customers in for a single visit. I wish Beatrice & Woodsley were more focused on serving customers and less fixated on their fancy decorations.

Casual Dining

 (6 of 10)

Pros: Good food, impressive decor
Cons: Too many inconveniences in dining experience, slow service


Beatrice & Woodsley on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 4, 2011

Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria, Repeat Visit

See original review from 5/4/2011

Last night, it was finally time to pay another visit to the delicious pizza at Marco's Ballpark location.

There were four of us at dinner, and we decided to split three pizzas between our group: The Brooklyn and the Manhattan were both new to Mr. Oyster and myself, and we also had to get ourselves another dose of my beloved Bronx pizza.

The Brooklyn pizza came with sweet Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, red onions, fresh mozzarella, and San Marzano tomato sauce.

The Brooklyn

This was similar to the Staten Island pizza we ordered at our last visit, but without the overpowering Vidalia onions, and instead, with mushrooms and pepperoni that we loved. The mushrooms weren't typical button mushrooms (I believe they were porcini?) and they had a wonderful chewy texture and meaty taste.

The other new pizza we tried was the Manhattan, which came with basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, red onion, grape tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, Lemoncello chicken breast, and pine nuts.

The Manhattan

This pizza was beautiful and contained a million of my favorite foods as toppings, but it didn't quite live up to the Neapolitan heaven I expected it to be. The pesto was both very sharp tasting and spread very generously, making the pesto flavor strong to the point of slightly overwhelming. The cheese was also placed a little too generously, a la Pizza Republica, and the Lemoncello chicken breast didn't have near the same flavor as the wings we had at our last visit. Still good, but definitely not my favorite.

And the Bronx pizza, I love you as much as ever:

The Bronx. My favorite pizza in Denver. 

The three pizzas was a bit too much for us; we ended up taking an equivalent half pizza home. On another note, the next table over ordered the meatball sliders, and we got some major food envy staring at them. Next time.

Another excellent visit to Marco's. Try the Bronx pizza if you go.


Marco's Coal Fired Pizzeria on Urbanspoon