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BekkiM

Fruition (Denver)

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My husband and son took me to Fruition (1313 E 6th Ave) last night for my birthday and it was really lovely. It's been mentioned in the same breath as Frasca elsewhere on this board and while I think that might be a bit of an overstatement, it was definitely right up there in terms of Denver dining experiences. No pictures, alas (it's a small place and I'm shy about photos in restaurants), but I'll do my best to describe the meal.

We started with the Potato-wrapped Oysters Rockafeller, a lovely presentation of 5 stacked "rolls" of crispy, golden potatoes wrapped around plump, dark oysters, served on a bed of sauteed spinach and lardons, with a Parmesan-leek sauce. The oysters were delicious on their own (well, son didn't like them much, but he's 9 and oysters are a little strong for him), but divine with the sauce. It *might* have been a little salty for some, but I'm a salt fiend, so it was okay with me.

We also had the Seared Alaskan Halibut Cheeks in a Gewurztramine-caper sauce. They were awesome! Highly, highly recommended. Meaty, sweet, lovely fish and the sauce truly complemented the taste. Again, fairly salty, but I like that.

The bread, btw, was mediocre. Having been experimenting with the "no knead" bread technique detailed in the Pastry thread, I think I've become a little spoiled by crusty, chewy bread--Fruition's was a bit dry and bland, with no crust to speak of. Served with a dish of butter (soft, at least--those solid, frozen blocks some places serve drive me nuts) with a lovely little pile of green salt (don't know what was in it--didn't get a chance to ask)--I'm a big fan of the crunch of actual salt crystals on my buttered bread.

For our entree, I had the beef culotte with duck fat french fries. The meat was tender and perfectly seasoned and the blue cheese that dusted the fries complemented it perfectly. The oyster mushrooms buried beneath the pile of fries, though, were chewy and pretty tasteless, never mind that I didn't know they were there until most of the meat and almost all of the fries were gone. The fries were great--which, since I ordered the dish primarily because I couldn't resist the siren-call of the duck fat, was a good thing. They were golden brown and nicely crispy, and you could see the salt crystals clinging to them (hmmm... salt seems to be a theme here--told you I was a salt fiend).

Hubby had the butter-poached smoked salmon and it was also a fabulous dish. A generous serving of the salmon that was tender and juicy, with a subtle, smoky tang--the mustard sauce really set it off. I think he may have surrepticiously licked his plate, but maybe he was just efficient. :rolleyes: I'd definitely order that again.

Son had the Pasta Carbonara starter as a meal and he too may have licked his plate. I didn't actually get to taste any of that--although I did finish of the pork belly served with it when he wasn't looking.

The place was hopping, especially for a Sunday night, and service was okay, but not great--I think they could use one more waiter for that kind of volume. After they cleared the dinner plates and took our dessert order, we waited 35 minutes for the dessert to arrive. That's a long time to sit there, especially as we'd finished our bottle of wine and hadn't ordered after-dinner drinks (I can't drink port on a school night--makes me very slow the next day!). When the desserts did come, they were fine, but not inspired.

I had the chocolate cupcake trio (because it was the only chocolate offering on the menu), which was okay, although it would not have surprised me to be told that the cupcakes were by Duncan Heines. They weren't bad, but they didn't wow me. And my son got the lemon meringue pie, which was a little lopsided, but tasted fine. Again, just not inspired.

All that being said, for people looking for a dining experience in Denver, I think this one needs to ranked up near the top. It really is a lovely place and I hope it succeeds. We'll definitely go back.


Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.

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Thank you for the review!

There has been a topic recently on Chowhound that gives Fruition a passing mention (within a larger focus of the writer Jason Sheehan), but it includes links to the trio of reviews from each major Denver publication: Chowhound thread

I ate there in March and it was very, very good but not excellent - still working out the kinks but I'm happy to see that they have just been getting better as they go.

Andrea

http://andrealin.vox.com


"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

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Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

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Thanks for the detailed review.

Maybe the stars aligned just right for me, but I am an incredibly picky diner and have had three exceptional experiences at Fruition in a row spaced apart in three different months. I can’t think of any other high-end place in the metro area other than Frasca and Adega where I found myself subsequently craving the food to such a high degree. I only wish Fruition had more room for wine storage and could offer more selections, particularly by the glass.

I’m actually a bit averse to over-salting and haven’t had anything yet at Fruition that I thought was too salty (including some of the dishes you mentioned). In contrast, I ordered an herbed filet at Aix recently and couldn’t taste the herbs or even the meat given the predominance of salt, and I’ve thankfully never experienced that at Fruition yet (and hopefully won’t).

I think my favorite dishes so far have been the earlier incarnation of the Butter Poached Smoked Salmon with roasted beet spaetzle, shaved asparagus salad, and horseradish beurre blanc; the BBQ Pork Shoulder Confit; and the beet carpaccio salad with goat cheese fritters.

35 minutes is obviously unacceptable to wait for the dessert course, although I will say that two of my visits were on Sunday evenings and I luckily didn’t encounter any pacing issues like that with the courses.

I don’t generally eat bread on every trip to restaurants after the initial visit (Frasca included) unless it’s brought out warm (like the focaccia at 240 Union, although I haven’t been there in ages so I’m not sure if they still do that or not) or there’s a unique flavor to it (like the goat cheese biscuits at Rioja), but I had a slice of the wheat bread at Fruition and it didn’t seem any better or worse than what other establishments offer (not that this is necessarily high praise, of course). Do they make their bread in-house or source it from somewhere else?

While I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the metro area that can consistently match what Frasca is doing in terms of food, wine, and service across-the-board, it’s also a different kind of restaurant than Fruition (regional Italian vs. haute comfort food). I like how they’re both small, welcoming, neighborhood-style places with great food where the service isn’t incredibly formal but isn’t amateur-ish or too informal either.


Edited by rlm (log)

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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I found Fruition on the 10 Best in Denver Area thread while my only access to eGullet was my cellphone and I was on the Light Rail from Nine Mile on an unscheduled overnight stay paid for by United because I missed my connection to LaGuardia en route from SFO. Thank you, everyone! I had an excellent meal!

My starter was an Heirloom Tomato Soup, which came with a sort of toasted cheese sandwich (I don't remember the name of the cheese, but it was a mild cheese that reminded me a bit of fior di latte) and some sprouts. (Mizuna sprouts? The dish isn't listed on the "Menu - Summer 2007" on Fruition's website, which doesn't actually include everything served there in the summertime.) The tomato soup was the main point of the dish, though, and it was a thoroughly pleasant cold-soup version of a very good tomato salad, without the oil-based dressing.

My meal continued on an upward trajectory with Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast, Carnaroli Risotto, Grilled Arugula & Smoked Duck Prosciutto, Red Onion Marmalade. Grilling may have helped make the arugula very bitter, and I thought that the inclusion of such a very bitter green involved a risk to the restaurant but was a well-chosen accompaniment to the salty, savory duck breast; delicious, very flavorful duck prosciutto; lovely risotto; and truly unusual flavor of the sweet/savory red onion marmalade, which I could have stood to have had more of. I broke off pieces of bread to sop up the sauce still at the bottom of the plate after I finished eating all elements of this dish.

But it was really the dessert that I considered most risky and most inspired. I ordered the Plum Financier with Honey-Ginger Yogurt and Pistachio Granola. The plums on the financier contained a bit of sourness, but the real risk was to include a frozen yogurt that actually had a sour yogurt taste along with a sweet honey taste and a genuinely very hot powdered ginger flavor. And let me add, for those who are unfamiliar with my standards for what real hotness means, that I spent two years in Malaysia, where a traditional saying is "If there's no chili, there's no taste," and ate and enjoyed almost everything spicy that I could get there. This was really hot, and it went together with the financier and the crunchy granola brilliantly.

I was given tastes of two red wines by the glass -- O'Reilly's Pinot Noir, Saint Paul, Oregon, and another which is not on the wine list on Fruition's website but whose name started with "Mythique." Both were $12 a glass. I chose the Mythique, which I considered merely good and not great (as was the Pinot Noir, in my view), but which hit the spot after a long day of traveling and did cut through the duck pretty well.

The total cost for the meal, including a tip of just under $12, was $69, certainly a fair value for a thoroughly enjoyable meal at a restaurant which dares to give expression to the creativity and originally of the chef, who I found out later in talking to the host, is co-owner. The man who had been acting as the host, and who I had suspected was more than that, is the co-owner who manages the front of the house, and he told me that he never has to worry about the kitchen, because he's working with such a great chef.

By the way, for those of you who would like to get to Fruition from LoDo and lack a car, I found out that it is difficult if not impossible to successfully flag down a cab, but there are buses that stop somewhat closer to the restaurant (I took the 15 and walked 9 long avenue blocks from Colfax, but I saw that at least one bus goes down 6th Av.), and 6th Av. near Marion is a good leisurely walk from the Capitol and the mall on 16th Av. (about 2 miles, according to Google maps directions).


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I'm glad you had a chance to visit Fruition (and that you enjoyed it)!

By the way, for those of you who would like to get to Fruition from LoDo and lack a car, I found out that it is difficult if not impossible to successfully flag down a cab, but there are buses that stop somewhat closer to the restaurant (I took the 15 and walked 9 long avenue blocks from Colfax, but I saw that at least one bus goes down 6th Av.), and 6th Av. near Marion is a good leisurely walk from the Capitol and the mall on 16th Av. (about 2 miles, according to Google maps directions).

Cabs in Denver usually have to be called--someone at the restaraunt is usually more than happy to do it for you--and, in my very limited experience, are definitely difficult if not impossible to flag down.


Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.

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Someone responded on another food board recently that it is illegal for cabs to "cruise" in Denver and pick people up on the streets, but that they are thinking of changing the regulation before the Democratic National Convention next year. Seems like a silly regulation. I did a Google search and found a Denver Post article about it Cabbies hail easier pickups. There are always cabs sitting outside of major hotels and at places like Union Station. We too always have the maitre d' at restaurants call when we need one.


“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

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Agree completely with all of the favorable comments above. I travel to Denver once every three or four weeks and eat out a lot, and based on my first visit Fruition is about as good as it gets around here. I had a complete pork fest - the deconstructed carbonara pasta with pork belly and the BBQ pork entree - and it was great - intensely flavored but not heavy or ridiculous. Service was great and wines well selected - only drawback from a solo diner's perspective is the lack of a bar, so if you're going to eat there on your own you will need a table (and probably a reservation).

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