Beef tongue: the name says it all. You're eating a part of the cow that does the eating. If not cooked properly, it can taste like it's from a cow that liked to lick other cows. But in the hands of a pro, mineral-rich beef tongue can be one of the most flavorful, meaty and succulent cuts. Jewish delis have always known it; taquerias seem to guard it like a secret; steak houses reject it. At Olive & Finch, Chef-owner Mary Nguyen treats the meat with the care and respect it needs to yield delicious results.
Nguyen's petite bakery and market considers itself a European-style café, open early for pastries and coffee, serving breakfast dishes, salads and sandwiches through lunch and keeping the bonhomie rolling through dinner service featuring plated specials a touch fancier than its lunch fare, though still humble and unassuming compared to big-sister bistro P17 on the next corner.
The beef tongue sandwich though, dubbed the Greggers on the menu, is neither shy nor humble. Cooked for hours to achieve a melting texture, the thin-sliced tongue is piled hot and thick into an oh-so-fresh and crusty baguette, doused with tarragon aioli and laced through with caramelized onions and red peppers. A dab of roasted garlic puree adds just enough sweet and earthy depth. The subtle anise note of the tarragon clings to each bite of tongue, rich with iron but not overpowering.
Topped with a handful of arugula, the Greggers sports the kind of balance and perfection sandwich lovers dream of: great bread in just the right proportion to its flavor-packed contents. Each bite contains a multitude of textures -- crunchy crust, soft crumb, toothsome tongue -- and an intricate interplay of herbs, fat and meat.
Are you a tongue fan? Let us know your favorite joints in town for tongue.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're already loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next nine 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 [email protected]
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.