No. 54: Marrow Bone Brûlée at Mercantile Dining & Provision 1701 Wynkoop Street Denver 720-460-3733
When a server delivers a plate and the predominant feature is a big, split-open femur, it can be a little intimidating. There's no meat, just a scattering of greens and few dabs of sauce, but the rich aroma of beef lets you know you've made the right decision; the flame-kissed marrow inside the cross-cut of bone glistens with fat, just on the verge of melting entirely. As with the rest of the menu at Mercantile, the dish comes with seasonal touches that brighten the unctuous marrow; the winter incarnation comes with blood orange, shaved fennel and oxtail marmalade.
Chef de cuisine Matt Vawter says there are several steps to creating each element of the plate. The marrow bones are iced for 24 hours and then brined in a solution that includes white wine vinegar before being roasted to order. Just before service, the marrow gets a light sprinkling of sugar that's hit with a torch, just like Crème brûlée, adding a hint of caramelized sweetness. Blood orange segments are cooked down in sugar until they take on a jammy texture, while The oxtail marmalade is made from the meat of braised oxtails gets shredded and blended with cooked down shallots.
Last season's presentation included bacon jam and paper thin radish slices on a plate dotted with house mustard, but no matter what the accompaniments, Mercantile's marrow is a mouthwatering and meaty butter substitute when spooned onto chewy slices of lightly grilled bread. Or just eat it straight from the bone, spooned up with little bites of the sweet and tart sides.
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.
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