The Ale House at Amato’s, part of the the Breckenridge Brewery family, epitomizes the LoHi scene with its brand of upscale pub food, extensive outdoor seating and dizzying array of local suds. With a mantra of “good food, good drink and good cheer,” it’s the perfect place to watch your morning waste away into afternoon, with little need for peer pressure to turn brunch into an all day affair, especially on sunny spring weekends that make you forget that March and April are Denver's snowiest months — and that those rooftop and street-side patios were just recently covered in ice.
Amato’s takes reservations for the dining room, but chances are you’ll be able to walk right in as the long waits are for the upstairs and downstairs patios (prime people-watching spots in the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood), which are both first come, first served. While we didn't have the blessing of being seated outside on such a gorgeous day, the dining room was still bright and airy enough to make you feel like you’re not missing much. Window seating offer killer views of the Platte River, but those tables were scorching in the mid-day sun, so we opted for a booth. Cheery red and yellow walls and striped booths set the mood even further, making for a perfect fake-summer, Colorado bluebird day.
Brunch cocktails won’t set you back much — merely $4 a pop for mimosas, Bloody Marys or red beers. But wanting to diversify, I opted for the agave mimosa, which sounded tropical and exotic in my mind, but turned out to be a beer-mosa made with an agave wheat beer, which made sense, considering that the Ale House is a beer bar owned by a brewery. The mixture tasted like Blue Moon with a splash of OJ and was a little too easy to put back — a sure sign that Sunday Funday was starting early.
While the brunch menu isn't all-inclusive, it's well edited, with dishes ranging from coconut brûlée oatmeal for the health conscious to classic steak and eggs for the meat-happy. Overall, it falls somewhere between destination spot and neighborhood dive.
We started with the ale-basted pretzels for the table, which are actually City Bakery’s delectable pretzel knots that come four to an order, served hot and paired with three dipping sauces: an agave-ginger mustard (my favorite) that packed a slow, horseradishy burn thanks to the ginger, a less spicy jalapeño cream cheese, and a berry jam, for when my mouth was sufficiently on fire from the other two. If you like pretzel rolls, the menu also includes the same knots transformed into French toast.
Despite 80-degree temperatures, a warming plate of green chile and eggs seemed too good to pass up. Seasoned and cubed rainbow potatoes were topped with wild-boar green chile, two eggs however you like, shredded cheddar, and sliced avocado. It was one of the best brunch dishes I’ve had to date: The over-easy eggs added the perfect touch of yolk to thicken the chile as it mixed and meshed with the purple Peruvian potatoes and orange sweet potatoes, which were accented with diced green jalapeños and yellow onions to complete the color wheel. With a flavor complexity that burst with every bite and a sumptuous mess of crispy, creamy, and spicy goodness, it’s definitely a dish I could go back for again and again. Some of the other plates came with a side of goat-cheese grits and my jealousy got the best of me, needing to order my own (albeit not technically a side dish). I could have done without though — the green chile was one hearty, filling plate, even without the excess carbs from the tortillas and my tacked-on grits.
Among the other bites at our table, the buttermilk biscuits were nicely flaky and coated with a hearty turkey-sausage gravy that would make a vegetarian think twice about life choices, and the fried-egg BLT came on a thick brioche bun that exploded when I took a bite, much to my friend’s dismay. The yolk from the sandwich ended up on my stark white grits, adding to the flavor of that dish, but hardly pleasing my friend. Morning sustenance obtained, we noticed the crowds on the patios thinning as we moved our lazy day up to the rooftop deck for an afternoon of beers.
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