Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fruition Restaurant, Denver, Colorado

When I first knew that I would be flying in and out of Denver this summer, I began to research popular restaurants in the area.   My Pinterest dining board includes pins for notable restaurants in and around both Denver and Boulder.   Among these is Fruition Restaurant.  Fruition is housed in a renovated home along the busy thoroughfare of 6th Avenue.  It is an intimate setting for couples and small groups.  And its chef, Alex Seidel, is attracting attention.  In 2011, Fruition was rated Denver's top restaurant by Zagat.  Farm-to-table restaurants like Fruition are part of the current epicurean trend.

The four of us shared a slab of pork belly topped with a six minute egg and paired with english peas and handmade cavatelli.  My husband and son shared a grilled Bavette steak (which we learned is a flank cut) with duck fat french fries (yes, I said duck fat), swiss chard, summer leeks and olathe corn.  I enjoyed a Maple Leaf Farms duck breast with duck confit potato hash, poached asparagus, meyer lemon hollandaise and duck crackling salad while Anna ate pan roasted halibut cheeks en papillote.

What I loved:  The food was definitely good.  The sourdough bread in particular is a treat.  Soft in the middle with a nice crisp salty crust, served with appropriately softened butter.  Hmmm.  The farm-to-table concept is a plus and was most apparent in the service of the vegetables incorporated into our dishes.  The english peas, swiss chard, olathe corn and potatoes were all flavorful and fresh.  Believe me, one can really taste the difference when the vegetables are fresher.  The meats we ate were all cooked well (not the best we've ever had yet still good), but the veggies were the clear stars.

What I didn't love:  The service, which accounts for the shortness of this review.  We couldn't wait to get out of there.  The hostess was rather standoffish, which is a rather odd quality to have in a hostess.  When she mentioned the slight threshold between the entrance and our portion of the dining room, I swear she was whispering which explains why my husband tripped over it.  Our waitress clearly wasn't interested in waiting on us either.  We waited nearly 10 minutes for her to approach us from the time we were seated at our table.  Drinks did come in good time but the promised bread service was also slow.  Bread here is served by the piece and I actually found myself wishing they would just leave the bread on the table.  It was just a shame because I think the bread was probably my one favorite.  Our server rarely asked us how we were doing and whether we needed anything.  Again, very odd as I know there are other places that practically smother you.  And after our dinner was done, it took several more minutes just to clear the plates (which we were actually starting to stack on the table ourselves).  By the time someone noticed my nice, neat stack of dishes and realized we had been waiting, we were ready to go.  We asked for the check before she even had the opportunity to put down the dessert menus.  Our waitress couldn't have dropped that check off faster - the only really prompt service of the night.

What was most disappointing was seeing all the great service being given to our neighboring diners, not only by other servers but by our own server.  None, save one other table, included children.  It's sad to say, but I'm left to assume that was the problem.  Fruition did not have a separate children's menu, which did not surprise me, but our server made no attempt to make suggestions for my kids.  Now I didn't need suggestions, my kids are used to me taking them to restaurants just like Fruition.  But it would have been nice to see the effort.  Even the waiter at the more elegant Restaurant Kelly Liken tried to engage them, awkward as it may have been.  In fact, the hostess and servers all seemed uncomfortable serving my children.  They were tentative and unapproachable.  I suppose they just aren't used to young diners and frankly my kids are not that young.  (They are 8 and 13.)

How much I spent:  ($$$)  Because we were dining with our children, we shared several plates.  The four of us had a shared first course, and my husband and son shared their second course steak.  Because of her size and smaller appetite, I ordered a traditional first course halibut as my daughter's second course.  Although I stayed with water, everyone else ordered sodas and lemonade.  With a slim 10% tip due to very poor service, our bill came to $110.

My overall rating:  1 1/2 spoons.  The food is well prepared, not necessarily the best I have had but still good.  On food alone, this would have rated at least 3 spoons.  But the service was very poor, too poor to ignore.  It could have been much better, as clearly our dining neighbors got great service.  It's a shame that our server was not thrilled either by the lack of any wine at our table or the notion of serving our children.  And any place that isn't interested in having my kids there isn't a place I need to return to.  Chef Seidel should take a cue from Richard Blais and The Spence.  Now that's a place that loves kids, but that's another review for another day



Fruition on Urbanspoon

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