Old Blinking Light

Morning!

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

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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.

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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.

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It was really cozy inside, without the quiet, elegant, fancy touch.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

EDGE Restaurant

Hello!

How’s life!? Mine has been good, can’t complain! I did however just make an appointment for the dentist…not sure how “good” that is, but it’s got to be done at some point. I actually was reminded of a funny story after I got off the phone with them. It was about a year ago, and I needed to order new contacts. Seems easy enough? Well it would’ve been, if I didn’t accidentally call my dentist to order my contacts. They were just as confused as I was.

Tom and I just celebrated our 2 year anniversary on Sunday and went to a restaurant called EDGE. This restaurant had been one I’ve been wanting to go to for some time, and this was the perfect occasion.

Edge describes itself as “a progress American steakhouse.” It is in downtown Denver at the Four Seasons Hotel. Similar to the last restaurant review I did, you do not need to be a guest at the hotel to dine there. And let me tell you, YOU WANT TO DINE THERE!

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When you first arrive, Edge offers complimentary valet to it’s guests. You bring the valet ticket to the hostess and she will validate it for you. If you are just stopping in to visit the bar, you receive 50% off valet parking. The valet workers are very professional and friendly and can direct you to the restaurant entrance. They even have an adorable umbrella rack outside for it’s guests in case it’s raining.

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The ambiance of the restaurant is very cozy with dim lighting, and a very elegant feel. Be sure you dress up if you’re going here! They have a large and comfortable bar scene, which is the area you walk through to get to the main restaurant. They have unique decorations, lighting fixtures and furniture in the bar area to create a sleek and intimate feel. One of the decorations that stands out is their glassed in wine cellar, complete with exclusive and rare wine racks.

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The smell inside is so amazing; it smells like the best steak you’ve ever had. It wasn’t a strong or overwhelming smell, but it was enough to make your taste buds water. The picture below shows the sleek and modern look of the inside. Unfortunately the flash detracted from the dim lighting, but I think I was mostly focusing on those really neat slanted pitchers I wanted!!

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They even had a beautiful modern marble duel fireplace, pictured behind us.

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First was bread and butter. But not just any bread and butter. The bread was designed in this neat sectional pattern, so you don’t have to fight it to get a piece off. Just twist and each node came off smoothly. The butter had wine infused sea salt sprinkled on top.

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Next was the most important meal yet. The main course. They do have a bunch of apps and starters, but we thought that might be too much food. We each ordered 2 sea scallops, a filet mignon, accompanying sauce, a side, and a dessert. The presentation at Edge adds so much to the experience. You sort of feel like you don’t want to touch it because it looks so sleek and nice… But you quickly get over that because by this point you’re salivating. They cook your food to order so it takes about 25 minutes for it to be made and cooked fresh. The first thing Tom said was, “Oh my gosh, this is the best steak I have ever had in my entire life. We’re coming here every night!”

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The scallops were cooked perfectly, with a slightly grilled lemon to top off your food with. I ordered the Béarnaise sauce with a side of Sautéed Forest Mushrooms.  Underneath the side dishes they even insert clippings of the menu to add decor to the presentation.

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Tom ordered the “Edge” steak sauce and a side of Not Your Mama’s Twice Baked Potato. Admittedly, it really is unlike any twice baked potato you’ve ever had. It almost tastes like mac & cheese in a potato version. I continued to be impressed at how they could make even a twice baked potato look fancy.

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The brush streak next to the scallops was a raspberry jelly sauce, and the swirl near the steak was a balsamic vinaigrette. While these were mostly for decoration they tasted good too.

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Before we skip over it too fast, did you notice that nice little red pepper? Well our very sweet and attentive waitress let us know that those peppers are a little spicy, which was enough to deter Tom and I from trying it. Until the end. When we had eaten every last crumb off our plate. And it was just sitting there, staring at us. Judging us even, for being wimps. So we each cut off a tiny little bit off the end. Mmm. Good and not spicy! What was the waitress talking about? Cut off even more, no problems. So Tom and I cut off about a third of the pepper and pop it in our mouths. I go, “I don’t know why they even warn you about these, they probably end up wasting a lot of them because of tha—-ahhh.” Hot! Hot! Hot! Need more water. Can I order milk here? Why didn’t I even save a drop of my Béarnaise sauce to put on my tongue right now?! Don’t make a scene! Just breathe in.

Lastly, once our tongues recovered from the hot pepper trauma, we each ordered our dessert. Tom got the Mascarpone Cream Doughnut, which is topped with a Lemon Glaze, Berry Jam sauce and Colorado Honey Ice Cream. I think he was sold on this because of the Colorado Honey Ice Cream. We’ve talked a lot recently about how honey bees are becoming extinct. Quite sad.

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I ordered the Molten Carrot Cake. This included Pineapple Ginger Carpaccio, Cream Cheese Ice Cream, Ginger Rum Sauce and crisps on top. By the end of my meal, I couldn’t take another bite. So full and satisfied.

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Edge definitely falls into the $$$ range. I would say you would be hard pressed to get out of there without spending $60/ person. They are most known for their steak, but feature their seafood as well. This is a great place to go for a special occasion, or if you are wanting to splurge a little and treat yourself to a very decadent and memorable meal! Tom and I love it here! We will definitely be keeping it in mind in the future, and would be more than happy to return! Overall, I think that the best way to describe this place is exquisite food with a very edgy feel. Ah so punny.

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Headed home through beautiful Larimer Street.

Second Home

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Doing anything fun?? I’m actually headed to a wedding, but I have had a lot of fun recently, and am looking forward to laying low after that. Tom and I recently went to the show Peter and the Starcatcher, and before I even get into that, please look at Tom’s face in the picture below. If you know him then this will make you laugh because you can see written all over his face, exactly how he feels about our friend struggling with the camera to take the pictures. Not even pretending to humor anybody, haha. I just love him!

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We did get a nice one too! I can’t decide which one is my favorite out of them though!

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Since I’m doing a restaurant review, I thought I might say a quick sentence or two about this play. Peter and the Starcatcher was definitely a great show! It was very innovative for a lower budget show and completely full of humor! It wasn’t a musical at all, which I wasn’t expecting, but it was a unique take on the pre-peter pan story.

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The actual review I wanted to highlight in this post was of a restaurant called Second Home. Second Home is a neat little place inside the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek. The JW is a beautiful hotel, definitely a pricey nightly rate, but you can pop in to Second Home to eat or have drinks without booking a stay.

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Inside is a very modern, urban and classy decoration scheme. They have an entire wall doubling as a wine rack. You can see it in the background here, behind my adorable grandparents! My grandpa is going on 92, and still sharp as a nail!

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Second Home also has unique fixtures, such as these lights pictured below. The kitchen is open so you can see inside it from the restaurant. That actually made the place feel a little more cozy and “second home-ish.” Still a high level of service and professionalism.

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They have a BEAUTIFUL patio. Did you notice that amazing fire pit?? How much would you love to come to a happy hour here, and hang out on the deck on a lovely Colorado evening?!? All the furniture is clean and comfy, and as you can tell, it’s spacious!

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The second course of this review is the food! You may start to notice a trend that I can’t help but order the most unhealthy thing on the menu….because it always sounds sooooo good! I ordered the Graceland Pancakes. There is no need to sugarcoat (pun intended) them, I’m going to tell you exactly what’s in it, and why I had lost this health battle before it even begun. The Graceland Pancakes are banana pancakes, peanut butter whipped cream, side of bacon, drizzled with maple syrup, all for $10. Yes, please! Bring it on cardiac arrest.

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My mom got the Bread Pudding French Toast, also a heart attack in the making. For $12 you got this french toast with Nutella maple syrup and crème anglaise. These weren’t quite up our alley as much though. The bread pudding was a little overwhelming, and it sort of crossed into the category of more dessert less breakfast. I will add that their presentation of meals demonstrates that they treat food as an art and you can see their experience and passion showing through.

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Second Home has a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. There are items of all different styles and lots of options that don’t come with just sugar and calories. We were just selective when ordering obviously 😉 I was actually not expecting to see such an extensive menu for this restaurant but was pleasantly surprised. This is a great place for a date, nice dinner, or happy hour. I definitely recommend giving it a try! I’ll be going back!

I would say that Second Home is in the $$ price range ($10-$20/per person-dinner rising to $15-$25). Keep in mind the portions are huge! Overall, I would give it a 3.9 – 4.1 out of 5 stars…I guess those would average to be 4 out of 5. Thank goodness for all those years of math in school, they’re finally paying off……!

Snooze & Celebrations

Happy Birthday America! I hope you’re having a wonderful Fourth of July! Birthdays, celebrations, and fireworks, oh my!

Well speaking of celebrations yesterday was a fun day for me! I went to one of my favorite restaurants (Snooze) for a late celebration tradition for my birthday, and then went downtown for the Civic Center’s Fourth of July Event to celebrate America’s birthday!

For those of you who haven’t been to Snooze let me give you the run down on everything you’re missing. Snooze is an A.M Eatery that has about 5 locations around Colorado, and one in San Diego. They open early and close around 2:30pm. “Get to the point, hows the food?!” you ask! The food is phenomenal. They have such unique pancakes, like the sweet potato pancakes (pictured below) and their blueberry danish pancakes (pictured second below). They’re the size of your head!

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If that is too big for you, they do have a Pancake Flight, which allows you to select any 3 pancakes of a smaller size. I choose 2 peanut butter cup pancakes and 1 sweet potato pancake, my 2 favorites!

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It’s very modern and edgy inside! Fun colors and a vibrant feel. They also serve “Brewmosas,” which if you appreciate the flavors of craft beer, you’ll appreciate their inclusion of our own Colorado New Belgium’s Trippel Brewmosa. ANDDDDDD they have Happy Birthday Pancakes!

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Tom’s favorite, and one of mine too (the slightly healthier alternative to pancake heart attacks), is the Spuds Delux! It is the most flavorful concoction; don’t even try and compare it to something you would order at IHOP  or Village Inn…whole new ballpark.

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Now all good things have some bad that comes along with them. If you’re going to Snooze on the weekends, plan on waiting at LEAST 20 minutes to sit down. So go before you are starving…otherwise you might actually starve to death while waiting a century to be seated. I’d rate it’s prices at a LITTLE above average, but definitely worth the extra cost for the freshness and flavors. And finally, it closes at 2:30 PM. So while you can be at other breakfast restaurants at 2:30 AM, Snooze will be snoozing.

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The second half of the day consisted of the Independence Day celebration they have at Civic Center in Denver! Best part? It’s free and accompanied by a performance by the Colorado Symphony. Perfect ending to a perfect day. Hope you have a happy and safe 4th of July!

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It seemed appropriate to me to do a wine bottle craft of Starry Night, since everyone will spend a lot of time watching lights in the sky! Come see me Saturday for the Starry Night Wine Bottle craft!