From a bottomless wine supper to a fancy date-night feast, tasting menus are culinary gifts from Denver’s talented chefs and restaurateurs. Don’t waste precious summer hours trying to decide on only one restaurant or meal; instead, indulge each night of the week with these worthy menus crafted by passionate culinary teams.
Monday: Movie Night at Bistro Vendôme1420 Larimer Street
Give Netflix and that Pinterest recipe a night off by attending Monday Movie Nights at Bistro Vendôme, where Colorado ingredients are incorporated into classic French cuisine. The food-and-movie pairing, a passion project for manager Missy Ihli and her team, transforms the dining room into an intimate cinema while serving a five-course dinner inspired by each movie, all for $55 per person. The bistro pours significant thought and reflection into each program. For example, the June 17 movie pick, Ma Vie en Rose, isn’t the Edith Piaf biopic, but rather the heart-wrenching story of a young child navigating gender and familial acceptance, chosen in honor of Pride month (shown in French with English subtitles). Upcoming features include Les Miserables on July 1 and Fried Green Tomatoes on July 15. (Movies and dates are announced three months at a time on the Bistro Vendôme website.)
Tuesday: Test Kitchen Tuesday at Mister Tuna3033 Brighton Boulevard
Located in RiNo’s bike-accessible Industry building, Mister Tuna, a member of the TAG Restaurant group, highlights chef Tristen Epps’s weekly inspirations for Test Kitchen Tuesday, with a four-course tasting menu priced at $38 per person, plus $20 for an optional drink pairing. The chef, who demonstrated his on-the-fly menu creativity by winning an episode of Chopped, playfully uses only four emojis to write up his weekly tasting menu. With limited tasting dishes available, reservations (requesting Test Kitchen Tuesday) are highly recommended.
Wednesday: Moriawase Jou at Sushi Sasa2401 15th Street
Omakase is the Japanese poster child for chef’s choice menus and are certainly a must-try at Sushi Sasa, but the restaurant also offers another tasting option: moriawase jou. This premium menu selection is a sushi roulette that gives the chosen chef free rein to design a plate of choice, offering a sampling of sashimi and one sushi roll for each guest. Costing $50 per person, the moriawase jou includes an elevated version of miso soup and a side salad. While visiting Sushi Sasa, be sure to visit the renovated bathrooms for an intriguing Japanese toilet experience; you can thank us later.
Thursday: Four Courses at Bittersweet500 East Alameda Avenue
Exhibiting kitchen creativity and highlighting chef/owner Olav Peterson’s dedication to seasonal ingredients since 2011, Bittersweet’s four-course Thursday Tasting Menu elevates seasonal fruits and vegetables with complementing proteins. The serene patio, surrounded by a staff-tended garden, is the ideal backdrop for conversing and enjoying the art of multi-course dining. As a full team collaboration, the menu cleverly concludes with a dessert and an unique cocktail designed each Thursday. Priced at $50 per person including wine pairings, Bittersweet’s tasting menu is a tribute to field ingredients composed into artisan cuisine, and is the perfect slowdown in advance of the weekend.
Friday: Five Courses at Barolo Grill3030 East Sixth Avenue
The cozy dining room and intimate energy at Barolo Grill are the perfect date-night combo for conjuring up a little amore. A menu staple during any visit, the five-course tasting menu is a collaboration of owner Ryan Fletter, executive chef Darrel Truett and sommelier Erin Lindstone, and highlights the restaurant's time-honored northern Italian culinary influences and deep wine knowledge. Generally set for six-week runs, the tasting menu deviates on occasion to exploit seasonality and ingredient availability. Full-table participation is not required, and free-styling modifications are welcomed in case risotto, for example, is the primi piatti of your dreams. Here’s a little secret: If dining room reservations aren’t available, walk-ins can enjoy the full tasting menu at the bar. Pricing is set at $80 per person with a $55 wine-pairing option. Dietary modifications for allergies or food restrictions are also available.
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Saturday: Five Courses at The Populist3163 Larimer Street
The Populist’s tasting menu is always available but definitely shines on Saturday evenings. The five-course menu changes out one dish every two weeks for a slow rotation of new creations. Chef Theo Adley takes diners on a culinary adventure with a gradual course buildup that peaks with the main course. Also included: a surprise after the third course, and a palate-cleansing dessert finale for the fifth course. Guided by seasonal changes, the menu is light and crisp during the spring and summer months, while hearty and rich during fall and winter months. The beverage pairings might cover any beverage deemed worthy and have previously included wine, cocktails and the occasional sake. Full table participation is required and reservations are encouraged (though not necessary).
Sunday: Sunday Supper at Jovanina’s Broken Italian1520 Blake Street
Preparing for a new work week on Sunday evenings can be a downer, but Jovanina’s Broken Italian remedies the blues with its Sunday Supper communal gathering. The restaurant, a love letter from co-owner Jake Linzinmeir to his wife, Jennifer, serves a family-style supper with bottomless glasses of chianti and menus crafted each weekend with local ingredients by chefs Chip Travelute and Ashley Morrison. All guests are seated at one long, shared table that mimics an Italian vineyard setting, but complemented by funky playlists (which often contain James Brown). Howard Doskey, "Director of Vibe," describes the relaxed atmosphere as a “refreshing expression of a very primal ritual.” For $45 per person, wine included, this four-course tasting menu is the uplifting community-experience alternative to Sunday brunch.