I love, love, love the author Jasper Fforde. His books are almost in a genre of their own and are rather difficult to explain or categorize. Essentially, in his Thursday Next series, characters live in a world similar to ours (but not the same) where trained people can actually enter (and change) books. If you love literature and love the English language (and especially if you like wordplay and puns), you will love his books. They are clever and amazing. I have been a superfan for ten years now and convinced most of my friends and family to love him too.
So when I heard he was coming to Denver again (I saw him 4 years ago), I knew I had to go. Josh and I decided to make a nice little one day trip out of it.
Jasper Fforde and I:
I'm sure you are thinking "Fascinating, Jessica, but what the heck does this have to do with food?".
Josh and I decided that we would just stay the night in Denver and go to a great meal. My friend Kristin, an amazing local restaurant critic, gave me a bunch of recommendations. One of them was Euclid Hall. I looked at the online menu, was immediately intrigued, and chose it.
Euclid Hall is one of those truly interesting restaurants where the food is very creative and very delicious.
We would never have found this place on our own. The building was built in 1893 and has been everything from a Mason hall to a high-end brothel. It doesn't look like a restaurant. We walked in and couldn't quite figure out what to do--the area we walked in to was obviously a bar, there was no obvious restaurant area, and there was no hostess. We waited around awkwardly for a few minutes and then followed a waitress up some stairs. Ah! There is the restaurant! The waiter gave us attitude for wandering up on our own (annoying) but looked down and noticed the hostess was in fact missing, which improved his attitude.
We started with a couple drinks. My martini was amazing. Euclid Hall must have a mixologist on staff because there are some truly innovative drinks utilizing house made mixers, like maraschino syrup.
When I see something truly novel on a menu, I want to eat it. And, as I work in the meat industry, when I see a truly novel variety meat on the menu, I REALLY have to get it. So Crispy Buaffalo-Style Pig Ears were our appetizer.
The pig ears reminded me of sweetbreads. The texture is...odd. The word "mucous-y" probably isn't completely right but it's not completely wrong either. They tasted good, once we we got over the texture, but I'm still willing to leave the pig ears to my dogs as chew toys.
Euclid hall grinds their own sausage but, more importantly, they pickle their own pickles! We got the pickle sampler which included sweet bread and butter pickles, hops infused pickles, "hot, spicy, and very sincere pickles", and a seasonal pickle:
These were so good. I love pickles (remember, I'm part of a pickle-of-the-month club). And I LOVED these pickles. Each variety was totally different and equally interesting. The bread and butter pickles were sweet and spicy, the hops-infused pickles had just enough hops flavor, and the spicy pickles had a great multi-dimensional spiciness that many hot pickles lack.
I also love poutine. I think it's the best part of Canada every time I go there. So spotting poutine on a menu in Denver? Super exciting. They had three varieties and I picked the wild mushroom version ("Wild mushroom, porcini gravy, Wisconsin cheddar curds"):
Delicious. The exact right amount of savory gravy, perfect curds, a true winner. Sometimes poutine can be too salty and this one wasn't, which was great.
I also ordered the caraway spatzle:
I adore spatzle and this was a really good version, although it had an oddly herbaceous taste. It was also a HUGE portion for a side. I didn't come close to eating it all.
Josh ordered the grilled prime tri-tip steak, which came with cast iron roasted vegetables and a black garlic aioli:
The steak was perfectly cooked and tender and the vegetables were also incredibly good (and well seasoned).
If I see "S'mores" in a dessert, I can't pass it up. So I ordered the S'mores pot de creme ("house made graham crackers and marshmallows").
The pot de creme had creamy pudding base, a toasted marshmallow top, and the homemade graham cracker was terrific. I hadn't known what I was missing by not having tried homemade graham crackers in the past.
Josh got the sourdough waffle ice cream sandwich ("salted butterscotch ice cream, praline".
It, like everything else, was delicious. Frankly, it's hard to go wrong with a salted dessert.
The meal was truly terrific. The ambiance was awesome too, it made a perfect date night. I absolutely want to go back soon. If I had a rating system, Euclid Hall would get the perfect score. It isn't even as expensive as you would expect. I think our whole meal was only around $70 or so.
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