Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Linger - Denver

Stick a toe tag happy hour menu on me, lay me on a recycled industrial roller table, stuff me with pad thai, let me rest looking at Denver's skyline.
I've been in Portugal for 3 months, feasting my eyes on Denver's food news. My friends required gluten free, so I first want to mention Linger's descriptive online menu (happy hour and dinner). GF (gluten free), NF (nut free) and V (vegetarian). This sold my friends along with the possibility of happy hour specials. Knowing Linger came from Justin Cucci, creator of Root Down, only made the possibilities better.
Knowing Root Down's popularity, I arrived promptly at 4pm to the hostess' surprise. Linger is difficult to find depending on where you park. Here's a hint: Look Up. Let the Olinger Mortuaries sign be your guide to 2030 30th Avenue.
I was surprised when I saw the small door. Then I opened it to a cavernous space. I love the brick walls, high ceilings, recycled industrial equipment, billiard ball collection, varied seating options, lite brites on the bar.
They have a large staff. Our waitress was very attentive, informative, helpful, and patient that I was waiting for my late friends. In the meantime, I enjoyed the Lemongrass Boca Loca Caipirinha. Memories of Portugal carried through that sweet, tart, eye opening, tingly numb mouthfeel drink.
The bar looked well stocked and they have 8+ beers on tap.
Finally, my friends arrived and we dug into their happy hour and dinner menus (at 5:30 for dinner menu selections). While deciding, my friend asked about their Horchata which wasn't made yet, but our waitress suggested she try the Costa Rican Pinolilo. That sample elicited a "holy crap, wow, holy hell". Clearly, it was amazing, so she ordered the drink.
*Popper Breakdown - my first pepper lit a fire underneath me. I lucked out, selecting the one overly spiced (thought my threshold was weak). The cheese curds with blood orange jalapeno jam cooled me down.  Those curds were amazing. My second pepper was much better.
*Maple Leaf Duck Wings - tasted like jelly or apple butter on the wings. Great meat on the bone. Loved the crunchiness on the ends. Mostly ignored the dressing and went with the shaved fennel on top.
*Organic Waffle Sweet Potato Fries - You could taste the potato. You could imagine cutting open a sweet potato to eat it at Thanksgiving. Others might like their food's natural flavors masked, but I enjoy the openness of Linger's kitchen.
Next up was the dinner menu. My friends and I weren't through yet. The "food posse" required dinner menu sampling. Linger was slowly filling up. It was comfortably full by 5:15 and swelling by 5:40.
*Pad Thai - my Asian friends quizzed our waitress and she said that Cucci and a friend would travel the world sampling food and then ask for the street vendors' recipes. YES! I understand what I was missing. Subtle layers of flavors interacting with my palate. My friend thought the tamarind was a bit heavy.
*Chicken B'stilla - cinnamon, nuttiness, reminded me of Christmas and cold weather spirits like St. Elizabeth's Dram.

*Lamb Belly Tagine - the crispy top layer was best. Overall, it was an ok dish.
Oh! And our waitress informed us the Horchata was prepared and let us have a sample. That was amazing! Thick, tasting of sweet corn (where did I get that? wild rice, quinoa, cinnamon, almond), so good, so healthy. Order their drinks!

Our bill was erased, but we helped our waitress fill in the gaps. The Pinolilo was comped as a result. Linger is a fabulous restaurant I plan to frequent more. I salute the inventiveness, fresh flavors, and world cuisine.

Notes: ample parking but you're competing with Lola's and Vita. They do advertise complimentary valet parking. The cars are parked behind Linger. Show up early for Happy Hour or be prepared to stand. Quite frankly, if you're here to eat and I hope you are, sit down, bring friends and share your menu selections. It's a very young, hip crowd here, perfect for socializing. They have high chairs for young children. The servers don't blink an eye if have the billiard balls with you upstairs.
 It was slightly drizzling at Linger, so we were eventually treated to a rainbow.
Fun restroom signs.
Recycled industrial parts for tables.
The downstairs dining area around 6:45pm.
The open kitchen.
Cool art behind the building.
2030 W 30th Ave
Denver, CO 80211

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