The Liquid Diet

This Week in The Liquid Diet: I feel like I am writing a restaurant review because the only other real boozy adventure I had this week was the Denver Off The Wagon trip to Oskar Blues.  That, and my Sunday Funday dinner. The true details of that trip have been locked in a vault never to be heard from again. Actually, you will be hearing a lot about that trip, if you haven’t already.  Back to my restaurant review-that-is-not-a-restaurant-review.

Sunday December 11, 2011 at 7:42 PM MST:

I park on the corner of 21st and Larimer, a block I am all too familiar with, and almost walked right to Star Bar just out of instinct.  I stopped myself, realizing that was not my destination and slightly sulked away with a small feeling of guilt.  My evening would be spent directly across the street at the very recently opened restaurant Trillium (2134 Larimer St).
Upon entering you are greeted by a hostess and the elevated fireplace island along with the floor mat with the Trillium logo across it.  Does this sound enough like a restaurant review? Not my forte–I’m much better about writing in circles about the important things like candy bars and mermaids.  So, I’ll skip straight to the part where Mr. Kelly Wooldridge feeds me liquids.

I start off with a Chartreuse cocktail called “The Last Word.”  Aptly named because Chartreuse is a great as an aperitif, digestif, session, sipping, shooting and even to drink spirit.  Basically Chartreuse will get the last word every time and you will love/hate it in your belly every time.

From there, we roll right into a classic cocktail called the Turf Club or Turf Cocktail.  This cocktail has quite a shrouded history and it is intermingled with a few of the most classic American cocktails there are.  It is in the heated debate involving none other than Vermouth.  When/who first mixed Vermouth with gin or bourbon/rye; was it sweet Vermouth or dry?  Was it at the Turf Club or the Manhattan Club?  Was it in NY or San Francisco?  Even Winston Churchill’s mother’s name pops into the discussion.  The fact that the early 1880’s saw the emergence of the Martini, Manhattan, Martinez and Turf Club are really all anyone can seem to agree on.  Who, where and which was first will make your head spin.  Let’s just agree that they are all worth drinking and leave it at that.  Recipes vary, but gin, sweet Vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, absinthe and a lemon peel garnish are generally in the mix.

The only debate in my mind was whether to have another. I am pretty sure there was some food making an appearance at the table as well.

Both my cocktails were spirituous and well-balanced with nice acidity which made them perfect matches for the King of organ meats…Foie Gras.  I thought it especially fitting that most signs point to the Turf Club coming from NY just as the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Trillium is serving.    The foie was accompanied by pickled Chantrelles mushrooms, Cloudberry preserves and Rieska (a Finnish leavened wheat flatbread).  The dish was we balanced on its own, but with the addition of some spirit it really cut through the richness of the liver.  The thing I really love about pairing cocktails with food is the palate-cleansing effect they have, especially with rich foods.  The spirit strips the fat off your tongue like nail polish remover albeit slightly more elegantly than said nail polish remover (and quite a bit tastier as well).

The food was incredible, the drinks were superb, and the restaurant is rocking. Save for one thing, and this may be a complete tangent. I feel I need to involve the very savvy readers and writers of Denver Off The Wagon to what I feel is slowly crippling the dining scene.  I apologize to Trillium or any other restaurants that follow this practice in advance, I just can’t hold back.  Why do restaurants use the home-style white cotton napkins for their guests?  I have never placed one of those on my lap and not left looking like I got molested in the crotch by a ravenous pack of lint bunnies!  I understand that they give a more cozy rustic feel to the experience, but I wish that was communicated in a different way.  It is a nice touch even if you use white napkins to notice a guest wearing dark clothes and go one step further to offer them a black napkin to keep them looking sexy all the way through their evening (or at least the time they spend with you).  What they do and how they look after they leave your establishment is out of your hands.  Hopefully, you have set them up for success.  Sorry for the rant, I had to get that out.

The moral of the story is that I am a bit crazy when it comes to napkins, apparently.  I love the history of food and drink and how subjective so much of history is.  It is important to know where things come from, but it is more important to know where they are going.  In your belly is usually a good place to start!

Quite a week in the life of THE LIQUID DIET…what will this week hold in store…stay tuned!

About Jensen Cummings

Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!

  • Brent Bonet

    Good news! I took my girlfriend there for dinner a couple of weeks ago and she was wearing black pants. Before she got to the white napkin the hostess offered a black one! I love this place too.