The Ballpark neighborhood, upper Larimer and RiNo have merged into one long stretch of hot bars and restaurants, with new condos and apartments popping up like dandelions through cracks in the pavement. While the announced closing of Twelve was a blow to the neighborhood, with so many recent openings, existing restaurants are having to re-calibrate to attract new customers and fit in with what's becoming as much of a residential area as a destination spot for baseball fans and urban tourists. So Ignite!, seeing a need to adapt to a shifting demographic, has dropped the exclamation point and changed its full name to Ignite Burgers & Lounge. The menu has also received a renovation, favoring burgers over the previous list of wood-fired entrees.
Although the new menu retains a few non-burger favorites like the green chile mac and cheese, tall and flamboyant burger stacks dominate the list. Starters also tend toward big and fun. with the kitchen's popular sweet and spicy bacon "man candy" and mounds of truffled fries topped in Parmesan aioli and curls of shaved Romano. The candied bacon features in the jalapeño deviled eggs, an iceberg-lettuce wedge salad and even in a Manhattan-style cocktail made more bacony with the addition of Mama Walker's Maple Bacon liqueur. Burgers teeter on their plates thanks to layers of ingredients and haystacks of lettuce. The Ignite burger, one of the more demure offering, still flaunts almost a half-pound of ground beef, bleu cheese, caramelized onions and bourbon-bacon jam. Taller still, the Moo burger ups the beef quotient with a thick layer of shaved roast beef cooked in a milk stout reduction and doused with green chile queso. Smartly, this juicy pile comes stacked on romaine lettuce to divert the sauces away from the bottom bun, but it's still a knife-and-fork burger. For the Hangover Cure burger, general manager Jake Kesler suggests standing up and using both hands to press the towering sandwich down to more manageable proportions. Piled with a hash brown patty, a fried egg, bacon and American cheese, the kitchen recommends a refreshing slice of watermelon, because as we all know, a burger eater has to maintain some sense of dignity. Chef Jared Peterson says he loves working on new burger ideas; his favorite new creation was the Mahalo, with bourbon-glazed pineapple and jalapeño cream cheese, but he he prefers the Ignite when digging in for a meal.
Keep reading for more about Ignite Burgers & Lounge...
What fans of the neighborhood and the restaurant may be more interested in, though, is the recent work done to the rooftop patio, making it more of an all-weather deck with a retractable roof, side panels to block out the wind and cold, and a fully heated section by the bar so that the downtown views can still be enjoyed in the winter months. Kesler says it's a move intended to appeal to a growing number of neighborhood residents. Since the restaurant saw an uptick in take-out orders last winter, he's hoping the changes will keep diners in-house.
The menu changes, too, are a response to customer demand. Even with only four or five burgers on the old menu, guests were gravitating to those choices, so Concept Restaurants (which also owns Humboldt, the Rialto Cafe and the Table Mountain Inn, to name a few) decided to offer a wider variety.
Kesler says business is always good during baseball season, but he's looking forward to what he predicts will be a new kind of winter season for the entire neighborhood, not just his restaurant.
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