Fruition is located at 6th and Downing, between Cheesman Park and the Denver Country Club. Our reservations were for a Wednesday night at 7:30 pm. Before even entering the restaurant, we were already irked by the upscale establishment's lack of a valet on the very cold January night. After walking in, the hostess was unavailable, and we had to wait a few minutes before being seated.
Fruition is a small, intimate space, with dark lighting and tables stuffed in very close to one another. The restaurant was full to capacity except for our reserved table when we arrived.
It was hot inside the restaurant. Really hot. Bikram yoga hot (ok, not that bad). So after griping about how cold I was during my short walk from our parking spot to Fruition, I was abruptly faced with overheating during my meal.
We started off with drinks and complimentary bread and butter. Perusing the menu, Fruition seemed to offer many of the same foods as other well-known restaurants in Denver, including things like pork belly, duck confit, and fancy-sounding pasta topped with a runny-yolk egg.
Our waiter was very knowledgeable but disappeared for a couple very long stretches during the meal.
Between the four of us, we selected the following appetizers: Pasta Carbonara ($12), Confit Duck Leg Cassoulet ($12), and Nantucket Bay Scallops ($15).
The dish included house-cured pork belly, home made cavatelli noodles, and a "six minute" egg. I loved every bite. The egg had a fully cooked white and a runny yolk that melded well with the perfectly cooked pasta. The pork belly - aka bacon - was fatty, salty, and rich; coupled with the egg, it tasted like breakfast. But with pasta.
|Confit Duck Leg Cassoulet|
This traditional French stew included house-made duck sausage and white beans. Perfectly seasoned and filled with large chunks of savory duck sausage, it was an excellent comfort-food dish. On the side was a duck crackling salad that was less memorable.
|Nantucket Bay Scallops|
Yes, those are scallops, and not some kind of newfangled breakfast potatoes. The scallops were chopped into small pieces, seared, and served with veal sweetbreads, Meyer lemon gnocchi, Palisade pears and a heavy cauliflower soubise sauce. The natural flavor and texture of the scallops was completely drowned out in the searing and by the addition of so many other foods. The dish reminded me of the messy, greasy, too-much-stuff-on-the-plate gnocchi appetizer at Root Down.
We enjoyed the cassoulet and pasta carbonara appetizers, but we weren't crazy about the scallops.
As main courses, I settled on the Crock Pot Veal Cheeks ($28), and my husband ordered the Tender Belly Farms Grilled Pork Chop ($27).
|Crock Pot Veal Cheeks|
The slow-cooked veal cheeks were incredibly tender, and fell apart easily at the press of a fork. They were complimented by a wonderfully creamy sweet carrot crema. Atop the veal cheeks was a roasted chestnut and foraged mushroom salad with Pommery mustard vinaigrette. My only complaint about the dish was I felt the salad dressing was too liberally applied. Coupled with the fattiness of the crema and veal cheeks, it made for a very heavy taste to each bite. On the salad was a gnarled potato galette that I suppose was more for garnish than flavor.
|Tender Belly Farms Grilled Pork Chop|
The pork was served with a spaghetti squash rosti, and a caramelized brussel sprout and apple salad. The pork chop was very tender, but it was very weakly seasoned. The accompanying vegetables were tasty and well-prepared but not memorable. My veal cheeks were definitely better.
We finished off with one of their long-lived desserts, the Lemon Meringue Pie ($8):
|Lemon Meringue Pie|
The "pie" was a cylinder with a graham cracker crust, blueberry compote, and a torched whipped topping. It had a sharp lemony tartness, which I enjoyed, but I appreciated the small portion as the strong flavor made it hard to eat more than a few bites.
Everything felt like a bit of a letdown after our extremely high expectations for the restaurant. We generally liked the food, but it wasn't good enough for the price we paid. The service and atmosphere were sub-par for a fine dining experience. Fruition seems to have a loyal neighborhood following, but with our long trek to dine there, it just didn't seem worth it.
Pros: Mostly very good food, high-quality ingredients
Cons: Way too hot during our visit, service sometimes inattentive