No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery 4990 East Colfax Avenue 720-550-7665
Chop Shop opened last summer with an upscale menu from chef and co-owner Clint Wangsnes — but in a casual, counter-service setting in a neighborhood clamoring for more dining options. Rather than following the formula of fast and filling that generally has customers headed for the door with their to-go bags, Wangsnes opted for slow food served quickly, inviting guests to linger over bold and unique flavor combinations without the fuss of full-service dining. To accomplish this, the chef included sous-vide cooking in his kitchen's repertoire to coax out toothsome textures and layered complexity from meats and vegetables. Among the items cooked in vacuum-sealed bags immersed in precisely calibrated hot water baths is Chop Shop's 48-hour short rib, a dish that highlights the best qualities of the cooking method as well as the chef's deft touch with international ingredients.
The short rib is cooked at a temperature that ensures a slight pink blush and a texture so tender that a knife is hardly necessary. Crusted in a blend of coriander, clove and star anise, the beef takes on a subtly Chinese character, accented by a side of hoisin demi-glace punched up with three varieties of peppercorn.
Served on an airy cloud of whipped potatoes and topped with grilled baby carrots and fried onions, the dish evokes a homey serving of pot roast with vegetables, only with an added layer of sweetness and exotic spice. Caramelized carrot, crunchy onion and the rich, black sauce mingle on the wooden board that serves as a dish. It's at once rustic and beguiling; a dish that could hold its own in any white-tablecloth environment. Wangnses has given sous-vide (often lumped in the with the fading molecular gastronomy movement) new life by using it to get the most out of the short rib: beefy, flavor, juicy tenderness — and a touch of home-cooked comfort.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next few months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co. No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151 No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co. No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder