Regularly regarded as one of the best restaurants in Lower Highland, Duo is the little bistro that could. As one of the pioneers in standout farm-to-table cuisine in Denver, Duo applies the same approach to local sourcing and fresh ingredients to its weekend brunch, offering consistent, seasonal delight for your palate with deceptively simple contemporary American favorites.
Duo serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friends tipped me off that the place is a madhouse on Sundays, but to our delight, we had it almost all to ourselves mid-morning on a Saturday. Despite its location on 32nd Avenue -- which cuts right through the heart of the Highland neighborhood -- Duo's surrounding are quiet on a Saturday morning, and the vibe inside is refreshingly unpretentious, an ambience emphasized by a homey and endearing Winnie the Pooh quote on the menu: "'When you wake up in the morning Pooh,' said Piglet, 'What's the first thing you say to yourself? What's for breakfast?'"
Duo has a warm, cozy vibe that doesn't come just from the heat radiating off the floor-to-ceiling windows, but also from the cheery, open space adorned with exposed brick, Chinese lanterns and vintage mixing bowls made into custom light fixtures. Brightly colored placemats display different breakfast "recipes" provided by kids; the recipes are so stinkin' adorable that you can't stop reading them -- great conversation pieces for the table. Mine was an ode to making waffles: "You get waffles from the freezer, cook them. You put cinnamon on them. And you put butter on it. No syrup, because I don't like syrup," courtesy of Annabelle, who is almost four. A girl after my own heart, and that's why most of my meals are eaten out.
Duo's brunch cocktail menu has a few well-edited options, but there was one obvious standout all of us ordered: the pink mimosa, made with pink grapefruit juice, sparkling wine, elderflower liqueur and Chambord. It's a crisp, tasty concoction that wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. Also on tap are fresh-squeezed OJ and French-press coffee for the java enthusiasts.
The cider-glazed pork Benedict is out of this world -- runny, creamy and all things delicious. The delicate flavor of the whole-grain mustard cream sauce bursts through, offering tangy hints against the thinly sliced slow-roasted pork. The grilled ciabatta came in handy for sopping up the rest of the good-to-the-last-drop mustard-and-cider mixture.
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One of my brunch companions ordered the Sweet Sunday, a dish similar to the pork Benedict but with greens, shiitake mushrooms and onion confit in place of the pork -- basically the vegetarian version of Duo's beloved Bennie. The rest of the table opted for the egg-in-the-basket, another menu favorite. Rosemary Canadian bacon, spicy greens and a goat-cheese fonduta sit atop a thick slice of challah, which aside from being a little bread-heavy, was also mouth-watering bite after bite -- each delicate flavor balanced with a loving touch from the kitchen. While I'll always be partial to the pork Benedict, every item on Duo's brunch menu is a standout. Once you've tried it, like Winnie, you'll be thinking about it first thing in the morning.