Monday, July 11, 2011

Elway's Steakhouse at The Ritz Carlton

Some of the most common questions I get from people are "where should I go to celebrate an occasion?" and "the company's paying, where should I take the corporate card?" I roughly translate this inquiry into, what is the finest and most memorable dining experience in town? Over the past few years, I've found this question more of a chore to answer, because the Denver dining scene has matured immensely in such a short amount of time.


Now that you're likely thinking of your special spot, not only would I like to hear about it (feel free to leave a comment) but I also want to share one of mine that recently landed on my short list: Elways Downtown. Now call me old-fashioned, but I've always loved steak and seafood when it came to fine dining. And though seafood may not be a Colorado forte, the beef certainly is. I give kudos to anyone that can do beef well, but anyone that can do seafood well is primo in my book. Enter Robert Bogart's Elway's at the Ritz.


Settled in a pristine hotel in the first place, Elways complements the class and elegance of the Ritz-Carlton with a modern, contemporary feel. But what ultimately makes the experience: the table service and wine program. Not only was the staff intelligent, but they were approachable, and in an elementary sense they make Elway's accessible to the common diner.

The centerpiece of the dining room- a wine wall holding 1500 bottles of
wine encompasses the best seats in the house.

When you show up, remember the magic words: Sommelier's Selections. Justin Jelinek has assembled a mature wine list of around 600 bottles, and 40 options by the glass (which is more than typical). From the outside looking in it's a feat to behold- but Justin walked us through his current favorites, and paired each course nicely with a selection that accentuated the natural elements of each dish. His passion was clearly reflected by the excitement in his presentation, and when it came down to it his approach was unique. Instead of offering us a glimpse into a lofty universe of wine culture, he put us at ease and welcomed us in to what Elway's had to offer.

After being welcomed by our service team, we immediately settled in with cocktails and a few appetizers. Smoothly at that, as with two folks designated to orchestrate the service experience, we were flawlessly transitioned from course to course with appropriate attention, timing and finesse. As each course was marked and cleared before the next, we were never left guessing but found ourselves comfortable in the experience.

Ultimately we dove into the cuisine that Bogart offers. With a focus on fresh ingredients and attention to detail, each dish we enjoyed was simple but unique.

An impeccable sushi-grade: Striped Bass Carpaccio. Simply
accented with fresh lime, ponzu and tobiko, and an indication of a
mature raw bar offering.
Pairing: 2008 Quinta de Aveleda Vinho Verde

California Roll with Snow Crab, avocado and cucumber. Fresh, cool and sweet flavor profiles dance on your palate in this dish.

Lobster Cocktail- offering the WOW factor in presentation with 3 South African Lobster Tails over dry ice, and a selection of homemade sauces as accompaniments: spicy cocktail, Joe's Brown Mustard, and remoulade.

Freshly-Shucked Oysters on the Half- of the Kumamoto and WiAnno variety. Sweet, briny accents paired perfectly with a dash of lemon and tangy mignonette.

Truffled Beet and Mozzarella Salad- fresh, housemade mozzarella with a tangy truffle oil vinaigrette over crisp beets. A house signature dish, and within reason due to its surprising flavor punch.
Pairing: 2009 Vavasour Pinot Noir - delicate, sweet, and complements the acidity of the dish.

The Entree should always be the Grand Finale- and in this case it was. The USDA Prime Bone-In Ribeye is well- aged, and enlists a perfectly seared crust with a balanced spice blend. This 22 oz feat in and of itself is better off shared- but if you're a daredevil then consider this a fair challenge. Easily the best steak I've had in quite some time.
In the background- brussel sprout hash, and homemade mac and cheese.
Pairing: 2009 Palermo Napa Valley Cabernet - a deep red tannin to accent the balanced offering of savory and umami profiles.

A simple way to finish the meal- with brownie lollipops. Just so your meat sweats don't let you forget where you are- the chocolate transfer offers a sweet reminder. Straight from the kitchen of the Ritz's own pastry chef Leslie Viets.

After a 5 course meal, I have to admit that I left failing at the 22 oz challenge. But like I eluded to earlier, and as you can see there was a certain focus on seafood this particular night, as Elway's is just as proud of the swimming portion of their menu as anything. To reiterate, Bogart's focus is a simplistic one. Most dishes aren't weighed down by multiple accompaniments or fancy sauces, but rather the center-of-plate speaks for itself. Elway's is top-notch, and a fine attention to detail accompanied by the Ritz-Carlton's service culture finds one pampered in the experience. In other words, make up a reason to celebrate and splurge. It's worth it.

Dish It Up!

Rating: Excellent (3.5 dishes out of 4)


Notes: 
Avg Entree: $40
Open 365 days a year
Happy Hour daily from 2-6 in the bar and lounge: $3 drafts, $5 wine, $7 martinis and select food specials
Complimentary Valet


 Elway's (Ritz-Carlton) on Urbanspoon

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