Triana warmed our hearts -- and stomachs -- with its molten chocolate cupcake. It's just what it sounds like: a spongy, dark-chocolate cupcake, dusted with confectioners' sugar, with milky chocolate lava inside that oozes out to mix with sweet macerated strawberries, vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of thick caramel sauce. While it may take a while for your cupcake to reach the table (the menu suggests you order it before your entrees so that it will be ready when you're done with dinner), it's so good, so devilishly decadent, that we'll never again look at the cellophane-wrapped Hostess variety with anything but pity.
Who says there's no place left for the classics? At the Fourth Story, pastry chef Syd Berkowitz blows us away with his towering, spongy, cream-cheese-frosted and achingly sweet carrot cake with coconut-rice-pudding ice cream and warm bourbon-raisin sauce. The first time we tried it, it made us want to get up, make new reservations and eat a second meal just so that we could taste its goodness all over again.


Who says there's no place left for the classics? At the Fourth Story, pastry chef Syd Berkowitz blows us away with his towering, spongy, cream-cheese-frosted and achingly sweet carrot cake with coconut-rice-pudding ice cream and warm bourbon-raisin sauce. The first time we tried it, it made us want to get up, make new reservations and eat a second meal just so that we could taste its goodness all over again.
Artisan cheeses from around the world come together beautifully on the cheese plate at Vesta Dipping Grill. Far from the plain, cutting-block cheese presentations of yesterday, this new-age version of the old standby is pumped up by the inclusion of fresh strawberries, raspberries, figs, candied walnuts, and salad greens laced with aged balsamic vinegar. And knowing full well that a properly arranged cheese course can do double-duty either as a jumpstart for the tastebuds or a gentle cap to a great meal, Vesta offers its plate both as an appetizer and as a dessert.


Artisan cheeses from around the world come together beautifully on the cheese plate at Vesta Dipping Grill. Far from the plain, cutting-block cheese presentations of yesterday, this new-age version of the old standby is pumped up by the inclusion of fresh strawberries, raspberries, figs, candied walnuts, and salad greens laced with aged balsamic vinegar. And knowing full well that a properly arranged cheese course can do double-duty either as a jumpstart for the tastebuds or a gentle cap to a great meal, Vesta offers its plate both as an appetizer and as a dessert.
Cheese whiz Jeremy Myers takes home the Cheesehead Trophy this year, for capably arranging the globe-trotting cheese board at Cook's Fresh Market, and for having more milk-related trivia stored up in the old melon than any other human being should ever need in ten lifetimes.
Cheese whiz Jeremy Myers takes home the Cheesehead Trophy this year, for capably arranging the globe-trotting cheese board at Cook's Fresh Market, and for having more milk-related trivia stored up in the old melon than any other human being should ever need in ten lifetimes.
Chef Matt Selby's grillardins at Vesta Dipping Grill win the Fire-Eater Award. Not only do they deserve it just for hanging tough in a restaurant where damn near every menu item has to come (at least in part) off their station, but they also put out some of the best, most butter-tender and flawlessly temped tenderloin we've had anywhere.


Chef Matt Selby's grillardins at Vesta Dipping Grill win the Fire-Eater Award. Not only do they deserve it just for hanging tough in a restaurant where damn near every menu item has to come (at least in part) off their station, but they also put out some of the best, most butter-tender and flawlessly temped tenderloin we've had anywhere.
The Iron Skillet Medal of Honor goes to chef Michael Long's sauté crew at Opus, for conspicuous and sustained gallantry in the face of a chef who's been known to change his menu by phone from the golf course just a few hours before the start of service. Granted, Long's particular brand of ironic culinary artistry is a welcome addition to Denver's high-end restaurant scene, and we're supposed to forgive the quirks that come along with such creativity. But, Chef, we think you owe the fellas a drink.


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