Frasca Food and Wine scored "Best Front of the House" in this year's Best of Denver, and with good reason. The employees are like epicurean Navy SEALs, making sure every guest's needs are met instantly and unobtrusively. But what if that guest is just recently out of diapers? Does Frasca's celebrated service extend to pint-sized foodies as well? At recent dinner with our three-year-old in tow, my wife and I found out.
We were nervous about taking our pre-schooler to one of the fanciest restaurants around -- nervous about the dismayed looks we might get from servers and other diners alike. Ever since we'd had our son, we'd held off on Frasca, one of our favorite dining experiences, and it was high time we got back there. Plus, several years of regular restaurant trips had schooled our kiddo in how to behave when he's out to eat. Sure, he's not as poised as he will be a decade from now, but he's surely less unruly than your typical gathering of twentysomethings after their third bottle of Chianti or the lawyerly type at the corner table who assumes everybody enjoys listening to the conversation he's having with his Bluetooth ear doohickey.
So, after making sure to reserve a table as early as possible -- both to ensure the place was relatively empty (at least by Frasca standards) and to avoid the late-evening fidgetiness that comes over little kids when it's past their bedtime -- we held our breath, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
And you know what? The best was on full display. Frasca's front of the house staff didn't blink at the prospect of a pre-schooler in their midst. They treated him like any other diner -- which means with the sort of care and respect usually reserved for heads of state. They weren't goofy or patronizing, mind you: no silly voices or clowning around. Just effortlessly attentive.
They offered to bring out a bowl of noodles and butter for him instead of the usual fare, and damn if they weren't the best noodles and butter any of us had ever tasted. They offered to let our son keep his paper menu so that he could draw on it. And when we protested about that, they said it was okay. They surely had a billion more copies in the back and, besides, they were bound to print up new ones the next night.
It helped that our son, who is never much trouble, was on his best behavior. Maybe it was because we kept distracting him with additional pieces of Frasca's killer bread, or maybe it was because he was mesmerized by the folks doing strange, magical things with the wine decanters of all shapes and sizes.
As our meal was winding down, our waiter stopped by to ask to see if our son would like to visit the kitchen -- something that made his eyes go wide with excitement. And when the kiddo returned, he was proudly sporting a paper chef's hat, signed by one of the chefs.
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All in all, it was one of the best dining experiences we'd ever had. Sure, it may be a while until we return -- our son usually opts for what he calls 'Potle, which is easier on the wallet -- but when we do, we know all of us will be in good hands at Frasca.
Still, a request: Next time, can I be the one who gets to go on a field trip to the kitchen?