At this time of year, most of us are craving comfort food and holiday dishes from the family cookbook. Meanwhile, restaurant menus turn to heavier fare, often out of necessity, as the bounty of fresh produce from summer and fall fade. But this year there are exceptions: A couple of Denver restaurants are tempting diners with haute vegetarian offerings and lighter, seafood-based bites. Bistro Vendome is adding a meatless, weekly tasting menu while Ace Eat Serve is packing lots of Asian flavors into a few lighter dishes. Sugarmill, on the other hand, is appealing to nostalgia by offering a special anniversary menu featuring customer favorites -- with a little winter comfort -- from the past year. Keep reading for the details...
Bistro Vendome 1420 Larimer Street 303-825-3232 Jen Jasinski and Beth Gruitch's timeless French bistro is starting a weekly vegetarian tasting menu. Chef de cuisine Adam Branz is putting together a different menu each week, highlighting the best produce of the season. The option will be available every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, starting this week with a five-course menu de dégustation for $40 per person, or $65 with wine pairings. "Our focus will be seasonal vegetables -- sub-seasonal, in fact," says Branz. "We present parsnips, for example, after the first frost because they're at their sweetest all year." In addition to those parsnips (presented with vadouvan spice, leek orange and garlic), this week you'll find Brussels sprouts, radishes and turnips with "rice variations," and sweet potato beignets with crème frâiche caramel and Bastille whisky for dessert. Ace Eat Serve 501 East 17th Avenue 303-800-7705 Chef Brandon Biederman is unveiling a few lighter, healthier menu items this week at Ace, each with distinct Pacific Rim flair. The spotlight is on fish, with tuna poke and hijiki (seaweed) salad, hamachi sashimi and salmon crudo with rice crackers. Larger dishes include BBQ tamarind chicken and miso baked Faroe Island salmon with jasmine rice. And just in case you're throwing caution to the wind sthis holiday season, there's also a new bar snack: kimchi-dusted fried pork skins. Sugarmill 2461 Larimer Street 303-297-3540 Troy Guard's Larimer Street sweet shop is celebrating its first anniversary. And while Sugarmill has built a reputation on stellar baked goods, this kitchen also turns out some mouth-watering savory plates as well. Tonight through Saturday, Sugarmill is offering a three-course menu for $25, with your choice of two appetizers, three entrees and two desserts. Selections include roasted sunchokes with hazelnuts and rosemary brown butter, short-rib tortellini with butternut squash, and a flourless chocolate jasmine bar with five-spice streusel.
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Los Chingones is also hitting the one-year mark this month, and while the deals aren't quite as good as at the neighboring Sugarmill, there will still be $2 taquitos and tongue tacos and $1 tomato balsamic salsa today through Sunday.