So this made me smile, and maybe it will make you smile too. Which I personally think is a great way to start your day.
I was driving home from the gym a couple days ago and I was behind this Subaru. Mostly doing my own thing and not actually paying much attention to that car in front of me, I noticed 5 heads. Full car. Nothing unique here. And then, as I was looking straight through their back window, I see the side profile silhouette of a big snout and long dangling tongue. A puppy!! (It was a full grown dog, a lab to be exact, but if you know me at all, dogs are puppies forever in my book). That wasn’t the part that made me smile. The part that made me smile was that while everyone else was crammed into the back seat, the dog had shotgun and was comfortably enjoying his spacious, superior, front seat! It actually makes me “lol” picturing what I imagine are vacant expressions on the faces of the 3 backseat passengers about being passed over for front seat by their dog. Awesome.
I’m pretty sure my dad would do something like that to us, considering our dogs “will not wear collars, they don’t like them. They want to be free and comfortable,” he says.
Chelo, Dog Whisperer.
Old Blinking Light
I saw a Groupon for this restaurant several months ago in Highlands Ranch, CO (Lucent and C470) called Old Blinking Light. I had driven past it on my way to get my allergy shots one time and had been wanting to try it. So to my pleasant surprise, they had a Groupon for it shortly after that. The Groupon was a prix fixe (pre-set items to choose from) meal for two, with two appetizers, two entrees, and one dessert.
Before I get to the food though, let me “show-and-tell” you about the neat atmosphere! If you’ve heard me talk about restaurants, or read any of my other restaurant reviews, then you’ll know atmosphere is big to me. Regardless of the food, if a place has a great feel to it and an enticing atmosphere, it always makes it on my go-to list of happy hour or grab-a-drink spots! If you remember from a minute ago, I said the thing that first drew me to this restaurant was how neat (man, I use the word “neat” so much. I’ll hit the thesaurus next time) it looked on the outside. The patio out front has a giant fire pit, which diners can enjoy dinner around, as well as a swank “Southwestern soul” feel to the place.
When we went to eat here it was just before Christmas, so they had some Christmas decorations up, which complimented the modern and rusty interior.
It was really cozy inside, without the quiet, elegant, fancy touch.
Despite the fact that most things inside were pretty marvelous and unique, my favorite was the standing wall fire place. In the picture below, you will see a round seating couch, in the waiting area, and then a bright grow on the mid right part in the picture. That was a tall stone wall, which at the top had a long slender row of flames. It was such a stunning way to separate off the rest of the restaurant from the waiting area, without disconnecting it completely, or inserting some ugly separator.
All the decorations had a modern industrial take to them, and really spiced up the place! I haven’t seen this style of decor anywhere else that I’ve been. I love the chains below. Another inventive way to separate the hallway to the bathroom without actually throwing up a wall. Tactics like that really opened up the place, which otherwise could have felt too condensed.
We sat in the back seating area, which would be a perfect spot for a birthday dinner, rehearsal dinner, group happy hour etc. I imagine those doors can shut to give you privacy, with a flirty glow. Unless there is a special party that reserved it, it appears to just be used as an extension of the dining area. This room is toward the back and is a little quieter. In fact, we were able to learn all about the people at the table next to us. She is pregnant. How exciting. Her co-workers were so supportive (admittedly we were eavesdropping and they were being loud).
Let’s start at the beginning of the 3 courses. Apps first. I ordered a fried avocado served on a corn tostada with pico de gallo and creme fraiche. I have recently been overly obsessed with avocados, and everything and anything that has that word mentioned is a done deal for me. I was moderately pleased with this appetizer, but not incredibly impressed. It was a different type of appetizer, so it gets points for individuality and presentation, but I wasn’t blown away by the flavor. I thought it tasted good but could have used a little more ‘something-something.’
Tom on the other hand ordered the sweet-and-spicy chile-dusted popcorn shrimp with chipotle aioli and honey. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Him and I both wanted to ordered 5 more plates of this. It was an explosion of flavor that was very perfectly balanced. If you aren’t a big shrimp person, don’t let that deter you. The shrimp itself wasn’t a strong flavor, it just blended well with the sauce and dustings. I actually wanted to dip my fried avocado in this sauce…but unfortunately Tom scraped his plate clean.
The main entree for me was the New Mexico red-chili-crusted salmon with cilantro green rice, calabacitas, pico de gallo, and lime. Several of the items in this entree were rare, and things I haven’t had before. I liked the uniqueness and special blend of flavors. I definitely want to make a note that this food does in NO way shape or form taste like gross tex-mex. It’s much more artful than that.
Tom ordered the herb-garden half-chicken served in a lemon-chicken au jus with mashed potatoes and house vegetables. He ate it all. And it actually filled him up, shockingly enough. Again, they did a very good job of creating different types of flavor combinations that only compliment one another, as opposed to any specific one being overwhelming.
And finally, for dessert we split the chocolate drizzle–a warm chocolate ganache drizzled over bruléed bananas with ganache-covered strawberries and whipped cream. I feel like based on that description I don’t really need to explain how fantastic this was. I loved that the strawberries were covered in thick chocolate that was still melty, so you could actually eat them without the whole shell falling apart. Surely I’m not the only one who has that problem with chocolate covered strawberries?? Bruléed bananas= heavenly.
SO. What does this all mean for you? I would recommend you try this place. It really is quite different than any other place you’ve been atmospherically and flavor-wise. This place is affordable, on the higher end of affordable, but with just an entree you could get out of there around $15-$20/person. From there it will steadily increase, especially if you’re ordering seafood and apps/desserts. For me, I am looking forward to going back in for a happy hour, in which I’ll grab one glass of wine, the sweet and spicy popcorn shrimp, and if I’m up for it, the bruleed bananas. I’m looking forward to going back in for that visit to hang out in such a snazzy (at least I didn’t use the word “neat”) environment. Hope to see you there!
P.S. I just bought a LivingSocial deal to Shells and Sauce, a chic restaurant in Denver. The offer is being sold for 9 more days (from 1/13/14) if you’re interested. I’ll be doing a review on the place sometime in the next couple months. Just wanted to inform you of the places I think sound good to try and let you get in on the offer if you want!