We had the pleasure of spending time in Denver, Colorado this past week for a conference and though we were technically in town on business, we managed to head to dinner one evening with friends. Unfortunately, sometimes when you get a group of foodies together, there isn’t consensus on where to eat and the six of us headed to nearby Larimer Square while still trying to decide where and what the collective group was in the mood to nosh on that evening. As Lucretia just started listing off restaurants and cuisines in an attempt to get someone (anyone) to pick a destination, a random man who was walking down the crowded sidewalk near us piped up “Oh, that French place is amazing.”
Sold, to the random businessman.
We walked a bit further and then turned off the street into a little hidden alcove and in the falling dusk, I was instantly back in Montparnasse. Bistro Vendôme is secreted away and could be easily overlooked if you didn’t know where to look, but oh what a meal you would be missing!
They sat us quickly in the atrium which was a lovely little spot and in no time at all, I was tucking into a savory cup of soupe à l’Oignon which was fabulous. I also tried one of their cocktails, Frais du Jardin, which consists of a cucumber infused gin, lemon, lime, simple syrup and basil leaves topped off with soda. It was alright, however about halfway through the glass, I was wishing I had picked something a bit sweeter for my palate as the basil started to overpower the other flavors in the glass. I suppose I should have sipped it faster!
For our entrees, Joel and I both chose items from their specials of the day. I had a simply delightful quail on a bed of braised greens and potato-less gnocchi that was dressed in an insanely rich sauce. The quail was de-boned perfectly and oh-so tender that it nearly melted in my mouth. I really appreciated that the dish was lightly seasoned as it didn’t hide the flavor of the quail or the greens and I was astonished (and grateful due to allergies) that the gnocchi had no potato as they honestly couldn’t have been made any better. Joel had the Bouillabaisse which he said was excellent, but since he didn’t share before he finished it all off, I can’t confirm. It did look very tasty though.
Sadly, I must admit that I only managed one photo of another dish from our party as we were all ravenous and tucked into our meals rather quickly. Wade inhaled his steak au poivre and Cynthia had the Noix de St. Jacques, Panisse a la Pomme et Thym, which is pan roasted scallops and apple-thyme panisse on a bed of red cabbage and persimmon puree. Her dish was beautiful and judging from the empty plate the waiter whisked away, delightful as well.
I capped off my meal with a cup of french press coffee (which I willingly shared with Dave) and the sinful indulgence of their Chocolate Pot de Crème Brioche Bread Pudding which was served with a dollop of marshmallow ice cream and a hazelnut tuile. Somehow I was actually convinced to share a few spoonfuls, though I’m going to chalk that up to the beginnings of a serious food coma and will assuredly guard my dessert more carefully in the future.
The service was excellent, our waitress was incredibly patient with our table’s vast storytelling capabilities, and the staff was very careful to assure me that each item they set in front of me avoided my walnut allergy. Absolutely above and beyond. We never felt rushed and, despite what you may have experienced at other French restaurants, the atmosphere was 100% warm, welcoming and unpretentious. I would eat here again in a heartbeat and it’s fabulous to know that I don’t need to head all the way to Paris for my gourmet fix. I just have to find more reasons to travel to Denver.