“You know, I really wish we had something like this in Fort Collins,” I lamented. We sat on the patio during a brisk autumn twilight with heat lamps radiating intense warmth above our heads. We had just finished an incredible night of dancing at the Westword Music Showcase and stopped by Stueben’s for dinner.
We ate delicious Classic American comfort food – pot roast, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken. It was while diving into the fried chicken when I longed for something similar up north. My husband and I talked about chicken and waffles and creative flavor combinations that we would love to taste. We ate and laughed, making the entire dining experience one we’ll remember for a very long time.
Fast forward a few months to March 6, 2012 when Restaurant 415 (or The Four Fifteen) opened on South Mason on the very edge of Old Town. What once stood as an old laundromat now sits a new restaurant that balances classic and trendy – both in atmosphere and cuisine. This is the Stueben’s of Fort Collins.
Backed by experience gained from The Rio, this might be the new kid on the block, but they know what they’re doing. Named as “The Mason Street Five,” Andre Mouton, co-founder and former co-owner of the Rio partnered up with daughter Amelia Mouton, Seth Baker, Justin Bernhardt, and Sean Olander, all of whom previously worked at the Rio as well.
Amelia serves as the chef, creating classic dishes with a twist. Everything is made from scratch and they pay particular attention to those with special dietary needs. There is no shortage of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes to choose from, and all of it is made with as many organic and local ingredients they can get their hands on.
Not only have they managed to create a restaurant with a great atmosphere and creative comfort food, but they’ve been able to do this all at an unbeatable price-point. With the exception of a few main dishes on the dinner menu, the majority of the meals are under $10. Most are priced between $3.60 and $5.45. Most restaurants refrain from committing to a locally-sourced, organic, from-scratch menu because they claim that it’s too expensive to do. The Mason Street Five just blew that excuse out of the water. The Four Fifteen is conveniently located on the other side of the Cohere office where The Husband and I cowork. If there’s any place that I can become a regular at, it’s here. I’m glad I won’t be going broke in the process.
I stopped by for dinner one night with a couple of friends. We decided to explore some of the smaller plate options. Jared started with a bowl of Brussels Sprouts with lemon, garlic, and Parmesan shavings. He thoroughly enjoyed them (and I did not snag a bite).
For his entree, he ordered the grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. The chicken was moist and tender with a strong pepper flavor to it. A testament that even healthy dishes can pack a punch.
I started with the Mac & Cheese made with sharp white cheddar and gruyère. This dish was delightful! It was so velvety creamy with a very slight tang. I wished for some toasted breadcrumbs on top just to add a different level of texture, but it was still fantastic nonetheless. I absolutely loved that this was offered as a small option in a little ramekin, because it made for some guilt-free eating.
For my entree, I ordered the “When Pigs Fly” – house-made fried chicken, orange-scented waffles, and bacon-thyme 100% maple syrup.
Finally! A place to order chicken and waffles! The orange-scented waffles were amazing – spongy with the very slightest hint of orange. They complimented the chicken wonderfully. The bacon-thyme maple syrup was a little scant and runny, but I really enjoyed the flavor and the chunks of bacon bits mixed in. The chicken was served as chicken tender strips. They were crispy and crunchy and decent. While I really, really, liked this dish, it would be even better and out of this world if the syrup was thicker and the chicken served as real bone-in fried-chicken.
I came back again for lunch with The Husband. We started with Mozzarella Fritti – large mounds of mozzarella with house-made breadcrumbs, fried and served with marinara.
Why some restaurants serve pre-made mozzarella sticks is beyond me. The Four Fifteen proves that a simple dish like this made with fresh ingredients can make a world of difference. This is what food is supposed to taste like! Dishes don’t have to be wildly creative, trendy or complicated. They just have to be made fresh with quality ingredients. The Husband and I ended up battling forks for the last few bites of this dish because it was so good.
The Husband couldn’t resist ordering the chicken and waffles after hearing about it during my first visit, so I decided to try one of their pizzas. I ordered the Papa’s – gruyère cheese, russet potatoes, yams, caramelized onions, olive oil, and garlic.
This may be an example of taking experimentation too far, or the restaurant is still nailing down recipes. The pizza sounds creative and unusual, but it turned out to be overly sour from the combination of gruyère cheese and caramelized onions. It just didn’t work for me at all. I did like what the yams had to offer, but it wasn’t enough for me to like it. However, their more traditional flavors have fared better with others friends. I would suggest ordering one of those if pizza is a craving during your visit.
We followed up our lunch by sharing a dessert – Chocolate Pot de Creme with fresh whipped cream. Wow – that pretty much sums it up right there. Again, it was a simple dessert, more along the lines of a thick chocolate pudding, but it was decadent. I think we made a mistake by sharing this. It was gone in about three bites and it seemed that we ate faster to beat the other to the next spoonful.
That night dining with my husband on Stueben’s patio, I wished we had something similar to enjoy in Fort Collins. Now that The Four Fifteen opened, that wish has come true. For being one of the newest restaurants to hit the food scene, they are doing a fabulous job. There are a few recipe kinks to work out, but they are off to a great start. I cannot wait until they are finished with their patio construction so that I can stop by for a small plate of delicious classic comfort food – just like I enjoyed in Denver.
The Four Fifteen
415 South Mason Street
Kid-Friendly? Yes! A lot of families dining, and the small plates are great options for the kids.
Parking: Very limited parking lot space
Healthy Options? A large selection of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. The pizza is even available gluten-free
Budget-Friendly? Incredibly easy on the wallet. Most dishes are under $10, average of $6.
Recent Health Inspection: Unknown