For once, the food was better than the wines and I actually got enough to eat. The evening was also a first for Emily's Fine Dining Parlor, in Harrah's Central City Casino: its first wine dinner. Executive chef Scott Montgomery plied us with such goodies as buffalo mozzarella layered with unbelievably ripe roma tomatoes in a perky vinaigrette (our guests, Scott and Rhonda Braun, whose names have never appeared in print until now, hate tomatoes but had to eat this appetizer because it was so good). Creamy asparagus with a cloud of melted Gruyere put blissful smiles on all our faces, as did a roulade of smoked salmon filled with herbed cream cheese and served with mixed greens in a warm Sauternes dressing. The two (count 'em, two) entrees were the least impressive part of the meal--the albacore tuna was a tad dry and the citrus beurre blanc way too tart; the pan-seared veal medallions stuffed with elk were adequate. The dessert, however, was a top-of-the-line flambe with kiwi and vanilla ice cream sitting in a macadamia nut tuile. And after all that, we were handed a mound of assorted chocolate truffles.
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Unfortunately, the Ficklin Vineyards Tinta Port that accompanied dessert was a joke--cheap-tasting with no body. The other wines were an improvement, but still somewhat lacking: a Wente Bros. Grande Brut that was nice considering it was mixed with Chambord; a well-balanced Concannon Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (1992) intentionally missing a butter flavor it sorely needed; a Wente Bros. 1992 Chardonnay that had some oak but little else; and a Concannon Vineyard 1991 Petite Sirah that was simply boring. The best of the batch: a Wente Bros. 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Charles Wetmore Vineyard that would have gone well with the truffles--currantlike, deep and rich.
Rich also describes Emily's decor. The dining room actually consists of several intimate rooms, each with only a few small tables, decorated in elegant Victorian style.
You couldn't even hear the clanging of the slot machines downstairs.
What's in a name: A recent visit to the Wynkoop Brewing Company (where they've introduced a great Sunday brunch buffet) answered a question I've been puzzling over for months: Why does half of Colorado pronounce the name "wine-koop" and the other half "win-koop"--and which is right? According to the waiter's explanation to the next table--which had a bet riding on it--the brewpub is named after General Edward W. Wynkoop, who pronounced it "wine," as do most male Wynkoop customers. The majority of the general's descendants, however, pronounce it "win"--as do most women and Wynkoop employees. After all, says co-owner John Hickenlooper, they don't make wine there.
As I left the Whateverkoop, two fire trucks and a police car came screeching to a halt in front. I rushed over to find out what was happening (hey, I'm a journalist, and besides, my car was parked there) and overheard a fireman call in his report: "Yeah, we're over here at the Winekoop; it's nothing. A birthday cake set off the alarm.