The green and yellow sign reading "Perfect Landing Restaurant" at the corner of East Arapahoe Road and South Peoria Street somewhat matches the colors of the gas station next to it, making me wonder if most passersby assume it's a restaurant inside the service station itself.
If you're actually searching for the Perfect Landing, though, don't stop at the Sinclair. Instead, keep driving down Peoria until you're nearly at Centennial Airport, then head inside the classy, well-lit and beautiful eatery to find not a gas-station diner, but an airport-themed establishment complete with framed photographs of pilots, airplane memorabilia on every wall and floor-to-ceiling windows through which guests can view small planes, private jets and helicopters taking off and landing.
We visited the Perfect Landing for brunch on a Saturday and quickly realized that making a reservation in advance is a must, as the place was fully booked for the first two hours after opening. Luckily, I had used the restaurant's online reservation page three days earlier to hold a table.
The dining room itself resides on the top floor of the Colorado Jet Center, at the top of a winding staircase. After requesting a window seat online, I realized that nearly every table in the restaurant is a window seat, as booths and tables line windows up and down the long, narrow room. Even the bar and booths on the far wall have a nice view of the airport runways, though I would still recommend (especially if you have kids or it’s your first time to the eatery) requesting a window seat to fully appreciate the view, which encompasses the Rocky Mountains in the distance beyond the airport and the city.
My kids were initially disappointed that there wasn't a kids’ menu, and therefore no crayons or paper to draw on. That was immediately forgotten when we sat down in our booth and they set eyes on the views of colorful planes and military jets swooping down from the skies. Some landed and taxied right in front of the restaurant, and my kids enjoyed wondering if the passengers were famous or really rich, as many of them stepped out onto red carpets and into shiny black SUVs. My husband and I appreciated the view of the blue and purple mountain background while enjoying sparkling mimosas and screwdrivers made from fresh-squeezed juice.
The brunch menu covers typical fare: omelets, Benedicts, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, though you may notice a sizable seafood section tucked in between the usual landlocked Colorado staples of green chile-slathered breakfast burritos and Denver omelets. The Landing's website explains that the father and son who own the 26-year-old restaurant have lived in “coastal seafood havens such as Vancouver and Seattle,” resulting in lobster and crab Benedict, an oysters Rockefeller appetizer and a Maine lobster roll. If you’re looking to keep it on the healthy side, you’ll enjoy a large selection of salads, with a little surf and a little turf, including the togarashi seared tuna salad, a shrimp lotus salad and an aloha chicken salad.
On the other hand, if you’re in the mood to consume a day's worth of calories for breakfast, the hand-breaded, housemade chicken-fried steak and eggs proves a satisfying option. The peppery cream gravy spilled over the top of the breaded beef on my plate and had a delicious sausage flavor and a touch of spice from a shower of cayenne powder. The side of pan-fried potatoes, pressed into a cake with a crusty, brown exterior, were a little dry, but otherwise were a good change of pace from the hash brown shreds of typical breakfast fare.
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Our server informed us that eggs Benedict are the restaurant’s specialty, so we ordered the classic version. I was impressed at how gorgeously dressed the plate came, with micro-greens and deep caramelization marking the thick ham slices underneath silky Hollandaise. I'm not a huge eggs Benedict fan myself, but I did enjoy that well-made sauce, which was rich and luxurious without overpowering the ingredients underneath. Breakfast entrees come with a choice of housemade baked goods — including biscuits to rival those of any Southern kitchen — and colorful fresh-cut fruit cups.
If you do bring the little ones, you can still order them a kid-friendly breakfast even if there's not a printed kids' menu. One plain or blueberry pancake with a choice of meat is a good portion size, and the pancakes aren't too sweet (even if ours were a little chewy). And the fresh blueberries gave the fruit-filled hotcake a lovely tart flavor that complemented airy whipped butter that you’ll surely want to anoint your warm cakes with immediately.
The charming food and picturesque view wouldn’t be complete without a talented pianist softly playing music in the background, which can be enjoyed all day and into the night on weekends and at dinnertime on weeknights, making this an ideal location for date night, as well. The restaurant's website calls the Perfect Landing “the only place in Colorado where your love of food and airplanes comes together.” While I’ve always had a pretty neutral stance on airplanes, my infatuation with all things edible was gratified during my visit. And my appreciation for pilots and our gorgeous mountain views grew during our brunch. I look forward to landing here again soon.
The Perfect Landing is located 7625 South Peoria Street in Englewood and is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Reservations are recommended; reserve your table by calling 303-649-4478 or visiting the restaurant's website.