Children aren't known for discerning palates, but even little tykes know that presentation matters. A kid might hardly touch a snack of celery, cream cheese and raisins, only to happily munch those same ingredients if the raisins become ants marching on a slippery green log. Like crafty parents, chefs understand that we first eat with our eyes, which is why they spend so much time bubbling wine into foam, curling cucumbers into ribbons, and stacking grit fries into Lincoln Log-style structures.
After all my meals at the new Squeaky Bean, I wouldn't be surprised if executive chef Max MacKissock loved ants on a log as a kid.
MacKissock has been with Squeaky Bean from the start, but when the restaurant left its Highland home in summer 2011 in favor of this new, much larger spot in LoDo that opened in June,he finally got a real kitchen.
Under his direction, that kitchen is turning out plate after plate of whimsical food that tastes as good as it looks -- or should I say, looks as good as it tastes.
With so many artful dishes, I grew curious about which one is the hardest to plate. Turns out, it's an appetizer called "eggplant & plum," with greens and herbs perched on a roasted Japanese eggplant. Aside from the challenge of getting the greens to stay on the eggplant, the dish "needs to be layered in the proper manner," MacKissock says. Otherwise, "you could be eating a handful of herbs or bok choy."
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SHOW ME HOW
Find out what I thought of the rest of Squeaky Bean's food - both in terms of taste and presentation - when the review is posted here tomorrow.