Eating Adventures

Dish of the Week: The Brutal Poodle's Brutal Noodle

The Brutal Poodle makes a rich and satisfying beef brisket pho.
The Brutal Poodle makes a rich and satisfying beef brisket pho. Mark Antonation

Quick: Name a food that rhymes with "poodle." If you came up with "noodle," you're on the right track to hunting down one of the most intriguing menu items at the Brutal Poodle, a new bar and grill with a decidedly goofy name at 1967 South Broadway. (And if you thought "strudel," you're on your own this week.)

The Brutal Poodle took over the former home of the Overland — originally opened by rocker Nathaniel Rateliff, among others — and also has a local music connection: Members of the band Son Survivor launched the joint last November, naming it after a nursery-rhyme-themed metal band that never came to be. Menu items keep up the vicious canine theme, with Poodle Bites (cornbread-battered slices of smoked sausage), a Brutal burger and, most surprisingly, a beefy bowl of pho called the Brutal Noodle.

A neighborhood bar decorated with pictures of dogs dressed up as rock stars is an unlikely location for any kind of Vietnamese-inspired grub, much less a rich and complex bowl loaded with rice noodles and house-smoked brisket. The secret is in the broth (labeled "bone broth" on the menu), which packs a punch of star anise, onion and other spices, along with deep beefy flavor. The soup is a little murkier than at standard pho shops, but the flavors are distinct and potent — and a customary side of basil, jalapeño, bean sprouts and lime lets you doctor up your bowl to just the right spicy, tangy, herbal blend. Hoisin and sambal sauces come along too, in case you need a little sweetness or heat.

click to enlarge
Dig your canines into these Poodle Bites.
Mark Antonation
But if you're in the mood for slightly more standard bar fare, those Poodle Bites should do the trick. The light and crackly batter is kicked up with jalapeños, making for spicy, smoky bites like mini corn dogs, only with a more satisfying sausage center — complete with whole-grain mustard aioli for dipping.

You may balk at the name, but the Brutal Poodle is serving up more than just dog chow; other options include surf-and-turf chile rellenos, a spicy take on chicken and waffles, and a solid bowl of green chile.

The Brutal Poodle is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. serving lunch and dinner, with the kitchen closing at 10 p.m. nightly.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation