Recent 5 Star Recommendations
As Greek Mythology stands, the Phoenix lived in Arabia. Each morning at dawn it sang a beautiful song, so beautiful that the sun god, Helios would stop his chariot to listen. As a unique bird, there was only one Phoenix in existence at a time.
It didn’t reproduce and only its death would bring on another bird. When it felt its end approaching (between 500 and 1400 years, depending on the legend), it would build a nest with cinnamon bark a myrrh, set it on fire, and be consumed by its own flames. From the pile of ashes, a new Phoenix arises. The Phoenix has always been considered the symbol for resurrection and of rising again from the ashes…
Suehiro Old Town is a Fort Collins Phoenix, quite literally rising from the ashes and starting anew.
Suehiro Japanese Restaurant has been a part of our dining scene for nearly 30 years (you can read all of my previous reviews on each location here). Owners Ed and SeonAh Kendall created a sushi restaurant deeply rooted in our community, and then expanded with the addition of their Front Range location at the end of 2009. In August of 2014, Suehiro in Old Town was in flames when 30 firefighters entered the restaurant with sledgehammers, chainsaws and flashlights as smoke came out of the building. Firefighters found active fire in multiple walls and between floors of the building. Holes were cut in floors and walls to gain access to fire spreading within void spaces. After a lengthy attack, they were able to find and extinguish all hidden fire, leaving smoke, water, and fire damage that resulted in the closure of the location.
There were rumors of them working to reopen, and more rumors of a permanent closure. But, a few months later the restaurant concept reopened and was sold to new management. Ed and Kenall still own the Front Range Village location, but now Suehiro Old Town is a new restaurant rising from the ashes and growing in a new sushi direction – while keeping the same name with different branding.
On November 20, 2014 Suehiro Old Town’s new owners, Justin Crowley, Christopher Reilly, and Dimitrios “Jimmy” Katopodis (from Tony’s Bar) welcomed new Chef and Manager, Enrique Socarras. Hailing from the Denver food scene from the likes of Cuba Cuba, Centro Latin Kitchen and Sushi Sasa, Chef Enrique has the experience to bring Suehiro Old Town to new heights. In fact, he was selected as one of the Denver FIVE chefs for 2015 to represent the city and state at Aspen Food & Wine in June, then ending in a dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, on September 16, 2015.
The fact that we have a Fort Collins Chef in this is amazing. (Side note: Kevin Grossi, formerly of Jax Fish House Fort Collins and now at LoLa in Denver is there as well). It speaks to where we’re headed in the culinary arts here. We’ve had a rollercoaster ride for the last 6 years, and while we just went through a low point, it feels like we’re picking backup and with a steeper climb this time. I feel like we’re on the verge of something awesome happening. When I heard that Chef Socarras had been at Sushi Sasa, one of my most favorite Denver sushi restaurants ever, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement. I had high hopes for Suehiro Old Town!
But then? All hopes were dashed. No, not just dashed, crushed.
My first visit back after the new menu had been launched was for a lunch meeting with a friend. We ordered from the “Old Town” side of the menu that pays homage to the Suehiro favorites for generations. If you don’t see a favorite dish from the past on there, let them know and they’ll make it for you. They’re still prepared to serve you your nostalgia (which is pretty cool, actually).
We started with a bottle of Snow Beauty sake, a lightly filtered sake that’s often served as an aperitif. It’s a sweet and enjoyable cold sake that goes down easily.
Then we ordered the gyoza – pan seared pork dumplings with ginger ponzu dipping sauce.
These were pretty standard gyoza. Nice and crispy on the outside, mild pork mix in the middle. Nothing bad, but nothing mind blowing either. Just good old familiar dumplings.
Next we ordered the baked green lip mussels with spicy mayo, sesame seeds, and green onions.
This is where things went terribly wrong. I felt awful after eating these. I did not get full-blown food poisoning and they didn’t taste that bad while eating them, but afterward back at home was a hot mess, and I can say 100% certainty it was from these.
Before the mussels hit my gut, we also ordered sushi – a tempura lobster roll and a rainbow roll. The quality of this sushi was tremendously disappointing. Suehiro had never been my top recommendation for sushi to begin with, but this lunch was a slide back even from that. They didn’t taste fresh, the rice was stale and bland, and it was just sad sushi.
Not only did I leave feeling gross for the rest of the day, but a little heartbroken that these changes didn’t live up to expectation.
I returned again on a bitter cold snowy night with Bill to go through a large selection of the menu for dinner.
I started with one of their new cocktails – the Shiso Mojito with lime juice, shiso leaves, mint, Bacardi light rum and soda water. It was supposed to come with a sliver of sugar cane, but didn’t.
This was surprisingly sour, but I really loved that about it. I am a lime lover through and through, and this was full of lime sourness. Great for me, sucks for those who aren’t into that. The mix seemed a bit weak, but then I admittedly drink a lot – so who knows. Overall, I’m impressed and intrigued by the rest of their cocktail menu.
From there we dived into the “New Town” side of the menu. These are all new dishes and creations that Chef Socarras rolled out last month. It’s separated into small plates, entrees, and sushi.
We ordered the New Style small plate – hamachi belly, Fresno chili, pickled carrots, and micro cilantro, tomato, mushroom, and celery.
This was a gorgeously plated dish. When you think of the term culinary arts, it’s in this dish for sure. It’s mostly a sashimi plate with a few slices of fish. So when they say small plate, they really are talking small. It was delicious, though. You wouldn’t expect to see tomatoes and Hazel Dell mushrooms on your sashimi plate, but it works.
Then we moved onto the Duck Yakitori – chargrilled duck, togarashi fries, and brown sugar-chili teriyaki.
Once again, this is a tiny tapa. But it was a tasty tapa! The duck and fries were seasoned with a nice heat from the togarashi spice. The fries were also soft and tender, which soaked up the spice. It was unique and we enjoyed it quite a bit (even though there wasn’t much of it).
Then we ordered the snapper tiradito with sturgeon caviar, lemon oil, and marcona almonds. They were out of snapper (out of season is what we were told?) and they swapped it with yellowtail instead. It also looks exactly like the New Style dish we ordered, except it has different accoutrements, like strawberries and caviar. It had a subtle difference in taste – the caviar gave it a nice salty tang, and the strawberries in lemon oil were a nice touch.
We went into the sushi next, ordering the dragon roll with strawberry compote (a new style option) and the tempura Philly roll.
The sushi quality was better than what I had during my lunch visit, but it was still deeply disappointing in quality overall, especially compared to other places in town. It is average at best. We decided to stop here, because the rest of the menu wasn’t going to be especially wowing and we’d just be spending money to be more crushed with our unmet expectations.
Suehiro Old Town fits the myth of the Phoenix rising from the ashes, but their comeback didn’t leave us singing any songs.
Parking: Old Town street or garage parking, and they offer valet parking on the weekend
Healthy Options? You bet – Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and low calorie dishes
Budget-Friendly? Nope! With the size of the small plates, and the price of the entrees, you’re spending at least $20-$30 per person here
Recent Health Inspection: Marginal Complete Inspection with an Excellent followup inspection
Last week I attended the Women Give luncheon with June from Growing Up Fort Collins. The Embassy Suites Convention Center in Loveland was packed with over 700 women all throughout Northern Colorado to learn, listen, and support women in our community reaching self sustainability and security.
There were hundreds of lovely women that I knew – friends, collaborators, coworkers, readers… it was a blast to catch up with everyone. We enjoyed a delicious meal of a large greek chicken salad filled with kalamata olives and drizzled with tzatziki sauce, wine glasses with whipped chocolate mousse, and mimosas to sip. While being in this huge space with so many amazing ladies enjoying lunch together, we listened to presenters talk about the mission of Women Give and how women of Northern Colorado are making in a difference in our community.
I’d be remiss to say that it was a challenge to eat while swallowing the lump in my throat.
Women Give is comprised of a network of women who want to use their financial resources to support legislation, community organizations and social issues that empower women and girls. They are a partnership between United Way of Larimer County and The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado addresses the public policy issues related to self-sufficiency and United Way of Larimer County brings the leadership, resources and knowledge-base of the nonprofit community to this work.
In all of their services, WomenGive provides financial assistance for childcare to single mothers attending college. The cost of childcare is a major barrier to self-sufficiency for women and girls in Larimer County. Not only that, but they’re working on cutting poverty in Larimer County in half by 2025.
I couldn’t help but think of the women I know in Fort Collins, and how a good number of them could be in similar situations. Some of them are facing this head on after divorce. It’s scary to know how close some of us are to barely-survival mode with these monumental challenges that specifically and drastically impact the lives of women and children. Organizations like Women Give are desperately needed in our community and still need additional funding to help more women who are denied grants because there’s not enough to go around, as deserving as they are. This luncheon really put that into perspective.
This isn’t an Eat Of The Week because of the food, but most certainly because of the cause.
Each month I give a shoutout to our sponsors because without them, I wouldn’t be able to write Feasting Fort Collins. The Feasting Fort Collins sponsors are an awesome group of businesses. Not only do they help to keep this blog going, but they contribute greatly to Fort Collins all over, keeping this city an awesome place to live.
I really appreciate that they support and believe in Feasting Fort Collins. Without their support, this blog wouldn’t be able to function. And without your support of them, they wouldn’t be here.
If you visit a sponsor because they help fund Feasting Fort Collins, please let them know! Check out their websites, visit their businesses, and give them a call for services. They make it possible for you to find the best Mexican restaurant or avoid the terrible pasta.
And if you want to jump on board as a Feasting Fort Collins, email me at Kristin@feastingfortcollins.com!
All Star Cleaning cleans our own home every other week, so I can personally vouch for how awesome their business is! They do an amazing job each and every time, and the feeling after a cleaning day is often the highlight of our week.
But one thing that I love about All Stars is that they aren’t just a cleaning company, they are fun people who chat up your kids and leave nice notes. They take the time to arrange stuffed animals on kids’ beds and fold toilet paper at the ends. They truly are the best cleaning company in Fort Collins, and I’ve been through a few.
Butter Cream Cupcakery is the founding Feasting Fort Collins sponsor! They’ve been with me from the very beginning, which makes them super awesome. They were the ones who made me realize that I could make this blog what it is today. You can check out their website for the list of upcoming flavors over the weeks to make sure you don’t miss out on your favorite.
And did you know they also deliver? No joke, they will deliver cupcakes Monday – Friday from 10am – 3pm, anywhere in Fort Collins.
Matador is another long-time supporter of the blog, reaching the five year point this year, too. They’ve grown exponentially over those five years as a restaurant and as a part of our community. Their decision to serve only craft beer to support the local beer community isn’t shocking, because that’s exactly who they are. They walk the walk just as much as
Jason Speciner has been a long-time avid sponsor, too! He’s a great resource, especially during the dreaded tax season. If you’re finding that you need a better plan for your money, he’s the guy you want to call.
He has tips on Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow along at your leisure. If you happen to be a restaurant owner, then he’s the guy you want to talk to about setting up retirement plans and all of the financial planning things that tend to get pushed to the side. He knows the financial side of the restaurant industry well!
Jennifer Bond at Nancy Bond Insurance is another long-time avid reader and long-time avid sponsor who has joined me on quite a few reviews over the years. She is always up for some food fun – be it a food truck rally, a pairing dinner, or a beer. She’s also a great snowshoeing and hiking partner for when I’m out on assignments for Fresh Air Fort Collins. Their relaxed approach on insurance is a breath of fresh air – if they aren’t stressed about it, you know you don’t have to be either. I think this is also what makes a lot of our sponsors great partners – we all have a common love for Fort Collins food and all that makes this state awesome!
Jennifer has helped navigate business insurance for crazy startups like Feasting Fort Collins, figured out the best rates and coverage for families who need auto insurance, and made sure homes are covered in case anything should go wrong (hail damage anyone?). Jennifer is another person who knows what restaurant owners need for the best insurance coverage. We’ve seen owners close up because of pipe floods and kitchen fires – she makes sure you’re covered so your restaurant can go on.
We’ve been big fans of KidsTown for many, many years. They’ve been our go-to sitter for the times I need to go to meetings, doctors appointments and date nights. Our boys always enjoy their time there, making new friends and excited to see old friends there as well. And the staff is super sweet that the kids always feel comfortable going there. We love them! You don’t have to sign up for contracts – just drop your kids off anytime you need to.
KidsTown makes sure the kids are doing fun and creative things while they’re there rather than just leaving them to their own devices. They plan bounce house parties and craft projects – so it’s always a good time!