My instructions to Robert regarding a restaurant to celebrate my birthday: Here is 5280's list of top restaurants in Denver. Start with Fruition and call. When you reach someone at the restaurant, say, "I need to make a reservation for my wife's birthday. She's a vegetarian who cannot eat tomatoes, citrus or chocolate. Is that a problem?" When you reach a restaurant where they say "No problem," that's where I want to go for my birthday.
He only had to make one call. The person who answered at Fruition said it would not be a problem and she would leave a note for the chefs.
When we got to the restaurant, Matt, the manager, was handling the front of the house. He knew it was my birthday and he knew I was a friend of Jackie Rebideau. The waitress knew I was a vegetarian with food restrictions and the chef knew that he would substitute mushrooms for the tomato chutney that normally accompanies the vegetarian entree. I was thrilled not to have to explain any thing. I could sit back and enjoy a wonderful meal! This level of service was not limited to friends of friends, but offered to each diner who entered the restaurant.
Needless to say, Fruition won me over before a single dish hit our table. While the best front of the house people in the world cannot make up for lousy food, great service really enhances a restaurant experience when the kitchen is good.
That Alex Seidel of Fruition is one of Food and Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2010 is no surprise to anyone who has eaten in the restaurant.
Don't expect huge quantities of food. This is not one of those places where you expect to eat tonight's leftovers for dinner tomorrow. This is a place where the servings are adequate, not super-sized. And that is as it should be. The food is superlative. I savored each bite and marveled at how each ingredient balanced another and the flavors bounced around in my mouth.
We enjoyed bread with butter topped with sea salt and parsley. Robert commented that it was nice to have room temperature butter to spread on the bread. It is a small detail, but, if the bread is not warm to melt butter, the butter should be room temperature. Who hasn't struggled with the icy cold butter clump on a slice of bread? I probably should have taken a picture of the butter, but you will have to imagine butter in a tiny white ramekin with a frosty looking topping of salt and parsley.
Apparently, the vegetarian option at Fruition generally involves two or three courses. Last night was a two course night called Grazing Vegetarians. The first course involved a single ravioli atop a bed of vinegary greens and topped with shreds of peppery radish and sweet white raisins. I forgot to take a picture until I had toppled the whole thing for my first bite, but imagine this all carefully in a tower. It was savory, vinegary, smooth and creamy, sweet, tart and more in bites that picked up all the ingredients.
The entree was similarly a tower of contrasting and complementary ingredients that pleased the taste buds with every bite.
Robert had the Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops.
There were carrots, peas, micro-greens and fingerling potatoes atop the scallops and all this rested in a puree of peas. Robert is not overly fond of peas, but he certainly cleaned his plate.
I don't know that there was a specific name for my entree. Unfortunately, the colors in the photo are not nearly so intense as they were in person, but it was a beautiful dish.
Bits of lettuce and mushrooms toppled off the grilled fennel and polenta into a pool of veggie puree that I thought was pea until I saw that Robert's English pea emulsion was much more intensely green. At any rate, I loved the blend of flavors and textures. the fennel offered a slightly licorice flavor, the mushrooms were tiny bursts of earthiness and the polenta was amazingly creamy but with a crisp crust. I don't have a list of all the ingredients, but whatever they were, they went together quite well.
I could have been quite content after the two courses, but a birthday dinner requires dessert!
My first choice would have been the cheese plate with apple beignet. honey-orange marmalade and petite radish salad, but the cheese, Vendeen Bichonne, is made with animal rennet. My second choice, the warm vanilla crepes, was delightful!
Those little dots and swirls around the outside of the plate tasted like a balsamic reduction. There were lovely chewy pistachios on top of the whipped marscapone cheese. It was a lovely birthday dessert in it's strawberry-rhubarb sauce.
Robert loved his chocolate cake.
I had a nibble of the peanut brittle in the salted caramel sauce. I loved salted caramels the first time I had them, but I am getting tired of seeing the combination everywhere. Robert thought the sauce and peanut brittle set off the intense chocolate in the flourless chocolate cake.
The owners of this restaurant label their food as comfort food. It certainly is comforting and comfortable, but it has a level of sophistication that goes far beyond what one would normally consider comfort food. If comfort food is the kind of food your mother made, this is comfort food if your Mom was one of the Food and Wine Best New Chefs.
I know that we will not wait for a special occasion to visit Fruition again!