Let's talk about a meal I had with my aunt in Denver on June 18!
We were out there for my cousin's wedding, but had to kill the day in Denver waiting for Logan's plane to arrive. I know, poor us. We wandered around the Museum of Art and took pictures, checked out the library, and found a monument to the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
And then I got hungry, so we went to Steuben's. @jacywarwick recommended it to me, and clinched the successful recommendation by telling me they had TWO kinds of gravy and an Austiny vibe. I was SO there.
I liked the retro-styled place as soon as we rolled up on it. Nice mural, comfy-looking (and definitely Austiny!) chairs, and no wait at 7. Perfect.
Steuben's exudes comfort-food vibes and a midcentury coolness, with tacked leather bar seats and lights over the raised booths that brought to mind those hairdryers that fit over your head to keep your set straight. (The ones in the front looked a bit more like heat lamps.)
Steuben's won me over even further with their wonderful cocktail menu. Which isn't online, and I didn't take a picture of it, and this was a month ago. But I do remember that it was full of delicious standards as well as some new concoctions, and even a couple of punches! I love that more establishments are doing spiked adult punch. Not only does it give one's drinking a nice sense of community, it's also impossibly retro. I imagine my grandparents making punch in the 1950's while entertaining.
(More retro love, and food, after the jump.)
We ordered a Blood and Sand (for me, on the left) and a Mojito.
My blood and sand was perfectly balanced and a powerhouse of a drink - whiskey and cherry brandy, with a splash of orange. Auntie's mojito was good, too, but seriously minty and not at all like the sweet concoction you might be used to.
I should tell you that this trip was the first outing of my brand new baby, my Canon s90, which is my new favorite thing ever and definitely tops the cats in my current esteem. Because it was brand new, and my aunt is a fiend for cameras, we played around a lot waiting for our food to come. Do you find this view of the restaurant edifying? I think it's kinda neat.
Appetizer - habanero-honey fried corn. I have to say this is not what I was expecting! I'd thought the fried corn would be served in kernels in a bowl, but no, it came out as full-on cobs.
The corn was cooked exactly right, with each kernel popping in the mouth, and the sweet, lightly hot butter was just the match it needed. We also got a couple of lime wedges that had been dipped in chile powder to squeeze over our corn, and a substantial sprinkling of queso fresco (I think), which had a good cheese-curdy squeak between my teeth.
We demolished the cobs. I'm not sure about the fried - they must have fried the cobs whole, with no breading, but they weren't greasy at all. Just delicious.
Next up, a searingly hot chicken pot pie for me! It was Friday's daily special, and I have a lot of trouble passing one of these up.
Often, I order these, all excited, and what I get is a soup that's half cream and half cooked-to-death smooshy vegetables, topped with a weird cutout of puff pastry. No, thank you, what I want is a chicken chowder, with carrots and celery that retain their crunch, and chunks of cooked-through potato, and moist chicken meat, topped with an actual pastry that's been cooked on. Isn't that what a pot pie REALLY is?
That's what Steuben's was. Only the downside of having a soup with pastry baked right on top is that it is seriously stupid hot and takes forever to cool down. Luckily I got to snack on Auntie's dinner, because she's nice.
Skirt steak, pepper-rubbed, with chimichurri butter and Steuben's fries.
That is a LOT of butter. With good garlic flavor, true, but damn. The steak it came with was, I thought, good - nice and a bit chewy - though I may have to get Auntie's opinion on that. One issue the dish had was extremely uneven seasoning. Though the fries were super tasty and well fried, some bites were bland and some were salted beyond our ability to enjoy them. And we have salty palates.
Though I wanted to try another drink from their menu, we were about to leave to go to the airport and tossing down some more booze didn't seem like the best idea. So I got a chocolate egg cream - dessert and fun drink, all in one!
What's not to love about fizzy chocolate milk? And Steuben's even took the extra time to gussy it up with a bit of a chocolate syrup design.
This retro comfort food was exactly what we needed before three hours of driving, first back to the airport to get Logan (and hand over a Steuben's veggie burger, which he loved, but I couldn't try because I was driving) and then up the mountains to Granby. I bet that grounding pot-pie is why I didn't get altitude sickness going through the 11,000 foot Berthoud Pass on the way to Granby.
Steuben's Food Service is located at 523 E. 17th in Denver, CO and I highly recommend it. 303.830.1001.