Saturday, October 15, 2011

5280 Dines

Denver's 5280 magazine hosted its first-ever 5280 Dines event last Wednesday to celebrate their annual 25 Best Restaurants rankings. On the menu were small plates prepared by chefs of six of the top 25 restaurants: Mizuna, Edge, ChoLon, Table 6, Colt & Gray, and Barolo Grill. The event was hosted at Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, which opened only a few weeks ago at 15th and Curtis.

Le Grand was shut down for normal dinner service to host the event. The brand-new restaurant wasn't in 5280's Top 25 list, but they offered a few nibbles alongside the restaurants that made the list.

The moderately-sized restaurant was packed with tables for each of the participating restaurants, a few makeshift bar areas, a silent auction display, a DJ, and lively crowd of ridiculously attractive and well dressed attendees.

And I must not forget to mention: open bar!

For its small bite sampling, Mizuna served a light seafood salad:
Mizuna - Insalada Frutti Di Mare

This light salad contained calamari, shrimp, mussels, crab and lobster with celery, fennel and onions tossed in vinaigrette. Mizuna certainly didn't skimp on high-quality seafood. This was one of my favorite plates of the evening, a pleasant surprise after our not-so-great dining experience there several months ago.

Edge offered Blueberry Venison Sausage:

Edge - Blueberry Venison Sausage

The sausage was topped with a fall root vegetable hash, brussel sprout salad, and huckleberry sauce. The sausage was wonderfully rich in flavor and had just a slightly sweet taste.

ChoLon offered a "Banh Mi" bite (not pictured) containing duck terrine, foie gras, chicken liver mousse, pickled vegetables, and tarragon-Chinese mustard aioli. My husband loved it but I thought it had too intense of a meaty flavor.

Table 6 served Pho Duck Dumplings:

Table 6 - Pho Duck Dumplings

This miniature sample of pho contained a giant dumpling filled with duck meat. The dumpling was fantastic, but the soup was otherwise a bit average.

Colt & Gray stuck to its traditional "offal" offerings by serving Grilled Grass-Fed Beef Heart, below, and Crispy Long Farm Pig Trotter (not pictured).

Colt & Gray - Grilled Grass Fed Beef Heart

Accompanying the beef heart were roasted beets, greens, and a lemon horseradish vinaigrette served on grilled bread. The meaty, chewy beef heart and sweet beet cubes complimented each other perfectly.

The trotter, on the other hand, was disappointing. It was served as a miniature fried cylinder filled with something that vaguely resembled meat mixed with gravy. It reminded me of the mystery-meat-filled krokettes I've tried to force myself to like during travels to the Netherlands. I didn't know what pigs feet should taste like before taking a bite, and I still don't know.

Barolo Grill served Vitello Tonnato, a traditional Italian dish of cold, sliced veal. It was topped with tuna aioli, microgreens, and roasted pepper caper tapenade.

Barolo Grill - Vitello Tonnato

And finally, Le Grand may not have been in the Top 25, but they certainly seemed to deserve a place among the restaurants at 5280 Dines.

Le Grand - Seared Salmon, Pickled Oyster
Their two-part dish contained a pickled oyster with star anise, foie gras mousse, and butternut squash, as well as seared salmon with beurre blanc sauce atop a potato chip. Both bites were incredible. The potato chip - salmon combination, in particular, was a very satisfying combination of flaky salmon, salty and crunchy chip, and creamy beurre blanc sauce.

Unfortunately for my sweet tooth, dessert was limited to this little guy from Mizuna:

Mizuna - Fruit Tart
Very tasty but plain.

For its first go, 5280 Dines was extremely well organized and executed. Le Grand seemed to be a perfect venue. The atmosphere was lively and busy but not overwhelmingly crowded. The participating restaurants served some very tasty and high-quality small bites, especially considering the makeshift preparatory area.

My only complaints? Some long waits for drinks, and the protein-heavy dishes could have used some balance with starchy sides and a more adventurous dessert.

Hope to see you all next year!



  1. holy moly I can't believe you went to this event. there is a living social deal out today for le grande! I might get it!

  2. My husband bought that livingsocial deal today! We were very impressed by Le Grand at 5280 Dines.