Welcome to the first “Whet Your Appetite” post series! In this series, I’ll share my first bite impressions from recently opened restaurants. These are initial thoughts on places that have been open for less than six weeks – the most crazy, inconsistent, still-figuring-out-what-the-hell-they’re-doing weeks. This is when all of the hype and excitement about a new place is at the peak, people are scrambling to try them out, but it’s still too early to write a real review.
I hope to give you a glimpse at what’s going on and give you the 411 on whether or not you should wait a bit until the opening weeks have settled. There won’t be any star ratings, just the scoop.
The Colorado Room opened just days before Thanksgiving on College and Laurel in the empty space left by the Glorie Cafe (I never had a chance to try that our before they closed up). Owners Danny Shea and Justin Serr had been looking for a space in Denver for over two years. After what seemed like a futile search, Fort Collins popped up on their radar. They loved the vibe of the city and decided to go for it, resulting in a regular commute between the two cities when not crashing at a hotel or friends’ apartment. Their Executive Chef, David Richter came from TAG and TAG Raw Bar in LoDo – both have been reviewed during some of my Denver trips, and both had been exceptionally impressive. I’m not going to lie, it’s exciting to have that level of experience and sense of culinary adventure up here in Fort Collins (along side Denver/Boulder transplants like Jax Fish House, Bacco, and soon to be Kitchen).
I was joined by Dave from Cheers Fort Collins and Sarah from Late Night Fort Collins for a Fort Collins blogger smorgasbord. Dave will fill you in with his own post about their beer and tap selection. Sarah will give you the inside details about their cocktail menu and live entertainment goals on their patio. Be sure to check out their posts. Together we’ll give you the all around scope of the joint. Honestly, it was awesome hanging out with them for a dinner that stuffed us to the gills. It felt like a blogger family dinner.
And that’s pretty much the feeling I left with in regards to The Colorado Room. It’s a low-key, down-to-Earth place with a staff who kind of feel like they are brothers in business. Hell, Danny’s mom even bakes cupcakes and cookies for them to sell every week. That’s a family-like business if I ever saw one.
But, when it comes to their menu (which is what you really care about the most), I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed. As Dave said it best, “Wow, it’s kind of upscale food for this corner of College.”
While it’s not “upscale” in the sense of Champaign Wishes and Caviar Dreams, the quality of ingredients and the from-scratch-recipes are a drastic change for the CSU niche corner. This is fresh and you can taste it. They do use local ingredients (when possible), including mushrooms from Hazel Dell and cheese curds from Cozy Cow Dairy. In the summer you’ll see a black board menu with produce from local farms. It’s not there now because, you know, it’s winter. In Colorado. Nothing is growing. But they are sourcing as local as you can.
The menu is pretty solid and you won’t see too many changes other than the rotation of specials. They’ve decided to jump in on the poutine craze up here. Which is now one of four places in town that serves poutine. They handcut their fries, but those weren’t the most impressive to me. And their Tater Eclairs are…interesting. But really, it’s their Sammy’s – bigger than a slider, smaller than a sandwich. The buttered buns? HOLY HELL. They leave a slick on your fingers, but you’re lying if you’re not happily licking it off. My favorite was the Veggie Caprese. The tangy, rich earthy flavors from that one were phenomenal.
Because their menu is solid and it tastes fantastic right from the first bite, I say the Colorado Room is worth going to during these opening weeks. They’re still figuring out minor details, like how they are going to run their charity proceeds and whatnot, but the core of the dining experience is nailed down.
Fingers crossed that they keep it up. You can look for a full review after the restaurant has matured and settled a bit.