Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lodo Bites - Denver, CO

Lodo Bites started with Lodo Drinks at the Wynkoop. A mutual friend works there, so we were able to relax a bit before the madness and food hunting began. Lodo Bites had 1000 tickets and they sold out, so starting early and having a strategic plan were important.
 Evidenced by Wynkoop's near emptiness, I'm a rare food fanatic worried about crowding. The beer mellowed me and my friend asked for a large bag and takeout boxes. Ahhh strategy.
 Beer, black and tan brownies, berry shortcake, and background blues music.
 Next up was the Big Game Restaurant & Lounge. This place is huge, features large televisions, and helpful hosts.
 Sliders, sushi (fried roll was my favorite), and their tini samples.
 They had a most impressive food selection with great variety. Signs are pointing to a very full takeout box and full belly.
 Welcome to Backcountry Provisions. Notice the table heaped with sandwiches.
 This is your spot for thickly packed sandwiches. Here is the Avalanche (top round roast beef, asiago cheese, tomato, romaine and house vinaigrette) and the Sherpa (roasted eggplant, sweet roasted red peppers, tomato, romaine, asiago cheese and garlic mayo).
 Dixons Downtown Grill was lame. Aztec Chicken... voila! Thin sauce, 1-2 chicken strips, long unwieldy crispy tortilla chips. They are closing shop soon.
 Black, chic, comfortable. Welcome to the Wine Loft.
 Top left rotating clockwise we have Pork Taco Canapes, Mushroom Bruschetta (memories of Florence), and Chevre Fig Canapes. The food was excellent, such delectable bites. I imagine this a great place to sample wine, enjoy small plates, and enjoy fine company with their intimate seating.
Wazee Supper Club was next with warm to hot pizza squares, chocolate chip cookies and ignored $3 watermelon margaritas. The pizza was ok, but didn't make up for the slow moving line.
 A view of the bar space with televisions.
 We're now swinging our food group up toward H Burger.
 Thick, juicy sliders with bacon.
 Fried jalapenos with sriracha ranch sauce and their veggie slider. The jalapenos were so hot, but fortunately the sauce mediated the spice. The veggie slider was quite good. Their warm plates were a nice touch too.
 ChoLon Bistro Part 1.
 ChoLon was the most frustrating experience at LodoBites. The Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce was great, but after 10-15 minutes sitting inside, we figured out they were only featuring the Chicken Satay for that time. The food was only served at the bar, which meant you were fighting for samples with the people already seated there. Their tactic was obviously about selling drinks as people delayed.
 Frustrated, we moved to The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant.
 They featured their  Spicy Shrimp Diablo (a favorite enjoyed by my shrimp loving friends) with guacamole, chips and salsa.

  Next, we headed to Ocean Prime, a recent Larimer addition.
 Their space was comfortable, clearly designed for drinking, but we experienced none of ChoLon's overcrowding. The Tuna Tartare on a Crispy Won Ton may have won the presentation prize. The flavor layers won us too.
 Bistro Vendome's welcoming space led us past their indoor restaurant space and outside as their smiling staff encouraged me to enjoy Gazpacho, Halibut Brandade with Mustard Creme Fraiche, Duck Rillette on Brioche with Meyer Lemon Mostarda. Yes, please. Thank you. May I have another?
Others enjoying the food and conversation at Bistro Vendome.
 Sausage time at Euclid Hall. They had so many delicious sausage samples (boudin noir, veal, kielbasa, and more). And their waitstaff would question you if you only took one. Take two! Take two!
 The enthusiastic crowd.
 Chicken and Waffles with maple syrup.
 Spying on a photographer.
 Camembert and Peach Preserves. So good.

 ChoLon Part 2. After noting their chicken satay strategy, we decided to come back. Here is the Pork Belly Pot Stickers with Ginger Mustard (great spices, enjoyed the ginger).
 Soup Dumpling with Sweet Onion and Gruyere. Good, but a novelty. At this point, they were pouring free wine and telling people at the bar "wine or food samples".
 We're getting close to the end with Vesta Dipping Grill.
 Their Lodo Bites menu was deceiving because it appeared as if there were two menu items when there was only one. Perhaps there was miscommunication between restaurant and Lodo Bites.
 The Celtic Tavern was disappointing. They came out with prepared plates, but those plates must have been prepared at least an hour previous.
 Nicely full, but cold to lukewarm food.
 Tavern Downtown panoramic.
 Great place for your sports fans.
They had a good selection of food keeping warm. It was ok bar food.

Overall thoughts: Lodo Bites cost $30 and I feel I received a lot of value. I was able to sample and experience a good portion of Lodo's restaurants. I also took home a lot of leftover food too. There is a strategy to sampling and not gorging your palate. My favorite places featured great food, but also good line management. Some restaurants could clearly do better with their lines. Some restaurants had good lines and/or comfortable seating, but didn't deliver in the food department. That's ok.

Strategies for massive sampling: Start early. Wear comfortable shoes. Get a takeout box. Go with a group.

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