DINING REVIEW: Playing favorites at the brewery
Restaurant Character: A warm, inviting restaurant with some really excellent food whether you're having a Friday afternoon drink with coworkers, Saturday lunch with your family or dinner with a date.
Rating total: 4 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Service: 4 out of 5 stars
Address: 600 S. 21st Street
Contact: 466-8240, cmbrew.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday
Alcohol: full bar
Credit cards: yes
Vegetarian options: yes
What's online as of Jan. 30, 2013:
- 66 percent of 24 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon
- 3.5 out of 5 stars based on 32 reviews on Yelp
- Photos on Facebook; search "Colorado Mountain Brewery at the Roundhouse"
- No violations requiring follow-up were marked after December, 2012 inspection by the El Paso County Health Department
We all know that parents are not supposed to choose favorites. Even when one has given you her last bite of chocolate and the other just started a kitchen fire, we’re supposed to love them equally.
Does the same hold true for restaurant siblings? Because the owners of Colorado Mountain Brewery are giving their newest location some distinctly preferential treatment.
The new “baby,” which is located in the old Van Briggle Pottery building on the west side, has all the advantages its older sibling didn’t get. These include tall ceilings, a warm wood interior with an upscale feel, a second story and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the mountains.
Despite an 80 percent overlap in the menu, even the food seems better at the new location.
On the appetizer menu, the Truffle Fries ($9) give the new location an unfair advantage. Skinny, crispy hand-cut fries go straight from the fryer into a large bowl where they’re tossed with truffle oil, sea salt and parmesan cheese. The truffle oil lends a subtle, earthy flavor to the fries, and you’ll find yourself unable to resist eating just one more from the enormous pile.
On the other hand, the Shredded Duck Leg Quesadilla ($9) was a little disappointing. The quesadilla itself is large, golden and crispy. The shredded duck was very tender, not fatty at all, but had an unfortunate ice-boxy taste that leftover roasted meats sometimes get. The accompanying mango jalapeño salsa is a magnificent foil, sweet and spicy. They should skip the side guacamole, because avocados are too unctuous with the already rich duck, and double up on that wonderful salsa.
If you find yourself starving, try the Mount Massive Burger ($15). Two juicy, delicious patties of prime, aged Colorado beef are topped with a pile of salty, tender bison pastrami, dressed with Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. The Kaiser roll held up to the very end. This is not a freak-show piece on the menu for shock value, but you should be very hungry or prepared to share.
Another advantage for the Roundhouse is the wood-fired pizza oven. The north location offers the same assortment of toppings on grilled flatbreads. At the Roundhouse, $11 will you get what might be the best pizza I’ve ever had. The crust is on the thin side, crispy on the bottom but chewy around the edges. The bright, understated sauce is smeared on the crust, adding flavor without sogginess, and the cheese is applied with a restrained hand — enough for flavor and gooey texture without weighing the whole thing down. At our server’s suggestion, I tried the Italian Deli. The pie is topped with sopressata salami, pepperoni, mozzarella and fontana cheese, baked and topped with arugula. Despite some awfully yellow leaves in the greenery, it was a glorious, delicious pizza, and I can’t wait to try the other varieties.
My dinner experience echoed the lunch experience: warm, friendly service and mostly outstanding food with a few small glitches.
The Yale Burger ($11) is a house-made black bean patty, and kudos to the restaurant for not serving the same boring patty everyone else does. There’s a little jalapeño in there, giving it some spark, but even the sliced avocado and cilantro lime aioli couldn’t save this burger from being dry. The Fish and Chips ($12) was beyond reproach. The fish was flaky and firm, with just enough breading to give it a good crunch. This dish comes with seasoned fries (good, but no comparison to the Truffle Fries) and a good coleslaw with just a hint of heat.
The Smoked Prime Rib ($20) leaves me in a quandary. The meat itself was perfect, cooked to order, juicy, not outrageously huge and tender enough to cut with a fork. The problem? No discernible taste of smoke. Why go to the effort to smoke something if the end result isn’t more flavor? On the plus side, the garlic mashed potatoes made a perfect companion for the juices from the steak, and the asparagus was cooked just al dente.
My absolute favorite was the Bacon-Wrapped Rocky Mountain Rainbow Trout ($14). This was probably the freshest tasting trout I’ve ever had in a restaurant, second only to the ones my dad caught in the river behind our house when I was young. Here, the fish is simply stuffed with tomatoes, onions and spinach, then wrapped in bacon before cooking. The flesh was moist and tender, pink and sweet, everything trout should be. The garlic and herb potato hash was a rustic and delicious side, spiked with sweet bits of bell pepper and a little jalapeño.
As a parent, I can’t choose a favorite. But as a restaurant patron, I certainly can.
Reach MB Partlow at email@example.com.