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100 Favorite Dishes: lamb tartare from Epernay

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Suffice it to say that I eat out more than the general population, unless, of course, the general population can catalogue more than 450 restaurant meals in a year -- which is about the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that I stomached in 2012. Pathetic, isn't it? But all those food dates are worth the gluttony, because it allows us to tell you where you should eat, a little favor that we started in late 2009, when we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- 100, to be exact. Now we're back with round three, counting down (in no particular order) 100 more of our favorite dishes in Denver (and Boulder). If there's something in particular that you think we need to try, reveal it in the comments section below, or shoot me an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

No. 89: lamb tartare from Epernay

Chef Duy Pham, who made a name for himself as the executive chef of the long-gone Tante Louise, has always plated painterly food that equates to culinary objects of worship, and at Epernay, those technique-oriented compositions -- everything from his sushi to his miso-glazed Chilean sea bass -- personify elegance and beauty.

See also: - Chef Duy Pham returns to open Epernay, a sous-vide restaurant and raw bar - Duy Pham, along with Michael Degenhart, are behind the line at Epernay - Duy Pham has a new restaurant -- in Pueblo, of all places

His menu -- smart, focused and polished -- is executed via a kitchen that's bereft of basic equipment: there's no hood, no fryer, no grill (although Pham is a big fan of gadgets like immersion circulators and the prized Vita-Mix), all of which means that his food is imaginatively projected through the lens of a chef who creates many of his compelling dishes in the raw, including his nearly impossible to find elsewhere lamb tartare, a bewitchingly artistic canvass showcasing a river of pickle-and-caper-intensive crimson lamb paved with shards of Gouda and crowned with a yolk-spilling duck egg. Minced red onions, a mix of micro greens, small knolls of whole grain mustard, snips of fresh chives and a subtle swipe of truffle oil, infused with chives, share space on the stark white plate with toasted crostinis, and the sum of the parts results in a beautiful, modern creation that raises the bar for just about every other tartare in town.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2013 countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Foie gras oysters from Sushi Sasa No. 99: Porchetta from Parisi No. 98: chocolate caramel sea salt tart from Spuntino No. 97: Nachos from the Pioneer No. 96: Fried pickles from TAG Burger Bar No. 95: Breakfast burrito from Jalapeños Mexican restaurant No. 94: Jajangmyeon from Yong Gung Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant No 93: French fries from Jonesy's EatBar No. 92: Fried rice from Benihana No. 91: Lobster macaroni and cheese from Mizuna No. 90: Schezuan beef in numbing chile oil from Chef Liu's Authentic Chinese Cuisine


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