1515 Restaurant

Dan’s and my birthdays are exactly two weeks apart.  While we go out to dinner often, we are usually pretty frugal with our spending at the restaurants.  This year we decided to go all-out and celebrate both of our birthdays with one big dinner.  The only question was where to go.

I had been watching a lot of Top Chef: All Stars, and while I don’t like Marcel, I saw a lot of promos for his quantum kitchen show, so I had molecular gastronomy on the brain.  After a bit of light googling, we discovered that the only restaurant in Denver that appears to do this sort of thing is 1515 Restaurant, so we decided to go there. 

We got to the restaurant and started looking over the menu, but there seemed to be so many things that we wanted to try.  Fortunately, our waiter stepped in and described the tasting menu.  He warned us that if we ordered it we had better be pretty hungry and have a lot of time.  He also noted that while the menu said it was a five course tasting, it was really a six course tasting (seven including the amuse bouche) We debated for a few minutes but eventually decided to give it a shot.  

Amuse bouche: Wagyu beef with chorizo gel.  The amuse bouche was more like two bites for us, but it was a fresh and flavorful start to the night, with just a hint of smokiness. (unpictured-the droid was acting up)

First Course: Croissant Soup Sous Vide Egg, Bacon Sausage, Asparagus Tips.  I was curious about this recipe when I first saw it.  I mean, how do you put a croissant in a soup?  The waiter explained to us that the soup was supposed to be breakfast in a bowl.  The croissants were pureed with a vegetable base to make a (very buttery)cream broth.  Then the sous vide egg was cooked low and slow and plopped in the middle.  When the waiter set it in front of us, the egg jiggled like a bowlful of jelly (or Santa’s belly). I followed the waiter’s instructions and broke up the egg to mix it into the broth.  This definitely tasted like breakfast in a bowl, although the richness was almost overpowering.   (unpictured-the droid was acting up)

Second Course: Honeydew, Prosciutto, House Made Mozzarella, Balsamic Pipette.  We were both surprised when we needed a knife for this dish but the firm mozzarella combined nicely with the sweet melon.  Between the mozzarella and the melon, it was hard to taste the prosciutto, so I ate it separately and it melted in my mouth.  The pipette added some whimsy to the dish, and it was nice that we could control the amount of balsamic we got. (I realized about halfway through this course that one of the benefits of having two phones is that both have cameras – except the  blackberry unfortunately doesn’t take good pictures!)

Third Course: Scallop with herb butter, roasted tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus and arugula micro greens.  I wish I had a better camera during this meal, since the food was so beautifully presented!  This scallop is far better than any I have had in recent memory.  It tasted smoked and melted in my mouth.  The artichoke hearts were fresh (not marinated-I hate marinated artichoke hearts) and perfectly cooked.   The crunchy asparagus shavings were also a nice addition.


Fourth Course: Escolar with a beet chip, brown butter gnocchi, vegetables and white wine and popcorn sauce.  Starting from the top, the beet chip was super crunchy and salty like a potato chip.  I have never had escolar before, but it was slightly sweet and flaked easily under my fork.  Dan thought it tasted like cod, but I think he just said that so that he could eat my piece.  I was really excited to taste the white wine and popcorn sauce, although I could only got a slight popcorn after taste. 


Fifth Course:  Sous Vide Colorado Lamb Cauliflower Puree, Crab Hash, Hazelnut Reduction, Mint Powder, Hazelnut Dust.  This was the dish that Dan was looking forward to the most.  We were really surprised by the flavor of the lamb, since there is usually a strong gamey flavor that was noticeably absent in this dish.  Dan really enjoyed the mint powder.  I was really excited about the crab hash but was so full (and excited about dessert) that I left most of it on the dish.  They definitely should cut down on the size of these portions.  I felt bad about leaving some on the plate but couldn’t make myself eat any more. 
Sixth Course: Chocolate Tasting: White Chocolate Panna Cotta, Dark Chocolate Caviar, Chocolate Cotton Candy,Dark Chocolate Pudding.  Wow. Just wow. I saw that cotton candy was on the menu and fondly remembered all the times I ate cotton candy at the camp where I used to work.  Well, those memories have been replaced.  Instead of being sticky and coarse, this cotton candy was light and silky and melted in my mouth.  It was the highlight of the night for me.  The second best part of the dish was the dark chocolate caviar.  I wasn’t looking forward to the white chocolate panna cotta, but with the dark chocolate caviar on top, the sweetness of the panna cotta was nicely tempered.  The dark chocolate pudding was the highlight of Dan’s meal and so I decided to share some of mine with him.  Now he can’t say I never gave him anything! 

Wow.  That was an incredible meal.  We are used to eating well, but this took it to a whole new level.  I’m so glad that we decided to spend our birthdays here, and even though Dan had a little bit of a heart attack when he saw the bill, we both think it was worth it.

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How do you celebrate your birthday?