By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
When the preceding courses are this good, it would have been a crime for dessert to arrive as a mere afterthought. But Napa didn't disappoint here, either. Although pastry chef Jess Roybal's works didn't come out with Wiard's flourishes, they held their own. Even the least exciting of our batch was worthwhile: The raspberry truffle torte (all desserts are $5.95) was really chocolate, and more chocolate, with a little raspberry. While the New Mexico red-chile cheesecake could have used more red chiles to dramatic effect, the dense, not-too-sweet lemon cake with citrus curd was outstanding in its simplicity. And the unique concoction of fresh berries in a sort of liquidy creme brulee was downright ingenious--floating with sugar brittle and humming with an intense vanilla flavor.
Through the meal, the waitstaff showed itself to be exceptionally familiar with the wines and their differing affinities for certain dishes. But if I have any complaint about Napa, it's that the wines we tried from the tasters menu weren't as full-flavored as the food. We went with things we'd never tasted before and were disappointed by all but a few. Most of them were intriguing, but they weren't as outstanding as the wines available by the bottle, quite a few of which we were familiar with--at least on a research basis--and would have loved to try. For the wine initiate, the taster setup is ideal, but the experienced oenophile will probably want to delve into the stuff that's harder--and pricier--to come by.
Still, that first dinner at Napa was so across-the-board wonderful that I returned on my own dime to see if I could find why other reviewers had complained of inconsistency and production problems. My second meal, from a reworked menu (Wiard plans to change the lineup five times a year), was just as stellar as the first, with one exception. The black-sesame sticky rice cake that came with the seared ahi tuna ($15.95) was dry.
3531 S. Logan St.
Englewood, CO 80110
Region: Southwest Denver Suburbs
It took exactly one sip of an excellent wine for me to forget that flaw. Napa is the kind of innovative restaurant that Denver sees all too rarely. Salut!