Sunday, August 14, 2011

Restaurant Kevin Taylor

One bit of insight into my super-secret personal life that I'm sure you all have been dying to know more about: my husband and I are relatively experienced at dropping substantial amounts of money for delicious French food in Las Vegas.

We've been looking for a place in Denver that would take our money in exchange for an equally delicious meal as what we've had in Vegas. Our first try, at Mizuna, was fairly disappointing. Last weekend, it was on to Restaurant Kevin Taylor, which has received the extraordinary-for-Denver accolades of the AAA Four Diamond Award and Forbes's Four-Star Ranking.

Kevin Taylor is one of very few big-name chefs from Colorado, and he has the entire Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group in Denver under his belt. Clearly he must be a fairly big deal to have his fancy restaurant carry his name.

Kevin Taylor is tucked in the beautiful Hotel Teatro near the Performing Arts Center downtown, making it the first restaurant-in-a-hotel I've really been to in Denver. While squarely downtown, the arts area of Denver feels quiet and off-the-beaten-path compared to a typical downtown dining experience.

We had no problem valeting our vehicle for an $8 price tag (hotel guests valet free) and found the restaurant immediately to our right after walking into Hotel Teatro.

The restaurant itself was a little odd. For as fancy as Restaurant Kevin Taylor is supposed to be, there was no host or hostess present to seat us. We had to wait for a waiter to finish with customers before being seated by him. And you'll need a tour guide to take you to the bathrooms. No joke. You have to exit the restaurant, take the second elevator to your right, head to the basement level, walk all the way down the hallway to your right, and then you are at the ladies room.

But the thing that struck me most was there was no one there. It was 7 pm on a Saturday night in the middle of the summer, and there were only four other couples eating that night. But needless to say we received very good service and plenty of attention from the waitstaff.

Anyway, on to the food.

Restaurant Kevin Taylor had just unveiled a new menu at the evening of our visit, which we were assured by our waiter that the entire staff had sampled and everything was superb.

We started out with a French favorite for my husband and me: foie gras. In this case, it was the Seared French Foie Gras ($16), which came with (direct from menu) Colorado Peach Cobbler, Pistachio Black Pepper Streusel, Armagnac Crema, Peach Gastrique.

Seared French Foie Gras

Almost too beautiful to eat. This was a lovely combination of flavors and textures that blended together perfectly. The armagnac cream (yellowish mound in upper right) was a liquor-laced sweet foam blob, and I've never tasted anything quite like it before. My only complaint about this dish was the foie gras lacked some of the buttery richness I love in foie gras and instead tasted a bit gelatinous.

Along with the foie gras, we also split the Creamy Maine Lobster & Corn Soup ($12).

Creamy Maine Lobster and Corn Soup
The soup was presented first with only the lobster meat and avocado in an empty dish, and the waiter then poured the soup around the delicious claw meat at the center of the bowl. We ate up every last drop of the wonderfully rich soup.

My husband ordered the Roast Colorado Lamb Rack ($38) as his entree. Its accompaniments, from the menu, Porcinis, Sweet Bread Fricasee, Enriched Barley, Mint, Lamb Jus.

Roast Colorado Lamb Rack
This was an excellent plate. The lamb was perfectly seasoned and cooked to medium rare. The porcini mushrooms were chewy and flavorful, and the sweetbreads contributed an additional meaty flavor to the plate.

My entree was the Potato Crusted Halibut ($32), which came with, directly from the menu, Chanterelles, Creamed Spinach, Black Truffle, Port Reduction.
Potato Crusted Halibut
This was not nearly as spectacular as my husband's lamb. I loved the tiny chanterelle mushrooms (well, I love mushrooms in general) and the potato crust on the halibut was wonderfully crunchy and salty. The halibut itself, while well cooked, was a little bland. The giant pile of creamed spinach seemed more like diner food than an accompaniment at a high-end restaurant.

And of course, on to dessert.

Looking for something light, we chose the Raspberry and Basil Napoleon ($10).

Raspberry and Basil Napoleon

This simple dessert had a top layer of red raspberries and vanilla pastry cream, and a bottom layer of golden raspberries with raspberry pastry cream. On the side was lemon sorbet. The raspberries tasted very high quality and fresh, and the dessert overall was pleasantly light and refreshing.

Restaurant Kevin Taylor offered some excellent food but missed the mark in a few areas. It doesn't compare to our beloved Andre's at the Monte Carlo.

Worth a visit if its convenient and you're looking for a fine dining experience in Denver.

Fine Dining

7 of 10

Pros: Quality ingredients. Most dishes were excellent. Very good waitstaff.
Cons: Some dishes lacked polish for the price tag. Where are the other diners?


Restaurant Kevin Taylor on Urbanspoon


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