Keep Westword Free

Bittersweet rolls out its summer menu -- blooming with produce from its garden

Before Olav Peterson and his wife, Melissa, opened Bittersweet in an old remodeled gas station at the very end of December, they flanked the patios with massive planters.

The plan was to grow their own produce and herbs. And now that summer -- and prime growing season -- is here, the chef is making room on the menu for the vegetables he's been cultivating.

Peterson ditched the heavier soups and garnishes that were mainstays on his winter list, replacing them with items like gazpacho, ratatouille, wild boar with sausages in pineapple gastrique and halibut paired with an heirloom tomato salad. And as the summer progresses, more changes will hit the menu -- including a roasted duck garnished with cherries and onions (that dish debuts tonight), and a dish the chef is tentatively calling "pork cubed," a delicious-sounding combination of housemade head cheese, pork torchon and fried pigs' ears, sided with a little Calvados rum gelee.

"We're still working on the pigs' ears," Peterson says, citing a process of confit and sous-vide aimed at softening up the ears without cutting out the chewy cartilage.

Now that the main dishes are set, Peterson will start rotating in his own vegetables as they're ready; right now, that means herbs as well as collards and braising greens will accompany the wild boar.

"We're about to start picking chard, too" he says. "I just don't want to clip it too early. That'll probably go on the scallop dish next week." He also plans to start harvesting squash blossoms, the edible flower that blooms atop zucchini plants, and then he'll stuff them with soft cheese.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

He's also got plans for tomatoes, culled from the thirty tomato plants he stuck in the ground: "We planted about fifteen varieties," he says. "In three weeks, we'll start using the green tomatoes for salsa verde. And in four to five weeks, we'll have ripe ones for the halibut, gazpacho and ratatouille." And speaking of the ratatouille, if Peterson's eggplants come through -- eggplants are "finicky," he notes -- the chef will eventually make the entire dish, a blend of tomato, eggplant, baby squash and red pepper, straight from his patio planters.

Nearly every item on this season's menu will eventually feature something the Petersons are growing outside the restaurant, except for meaty things like the charcuterie and the duck confit ravioli topped with shaved foie gras.

And the homegrown produce will continue throughout the fall when Peterson starts harvesting pumpkins and squash for colder weather.

Follow @CafeWestword on Twitter

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.