Table Talk for January 15

January 15 2008, 10:00 PM
New: The Crushery Last week we stopped in for lunch at The Crushery, a brand-new panini shop in a loft-like space on South Pearl Street. The sandwich menu works like this: Create your own (with homemade bread and bagels and 75 gourmet ingredients) or choose from combos such as shredded pork, bacon, green chiles, queso fresco, and chipotle aïoli or lox, shallot-caper cream cheese, and red onion. The service was friendly and eager to please, but we found the paninis to be undergrilled (cheese wasn't melted and the bread wasn't toasty)—disappointing for a spot specializing in the panino. Still, as new as it is, we believe the Crushery will work out the kinks. In the meantime, the best offerings are off the dessert menu. The bizarre-sounding stuffed sweets: pound cake, French toast, cinnamon bread, or brownies are decadent and worth a trip in themselves. We favor the brownie—halved, filled with chocolate cream cheese, peanut butter, and almonds, before being pressed and garnished with real whipped cream. Tip: At $3.50, the desserts (which easily serve two) are one heck of a sweet deal. 1579 S. Pearl St., 303-733-4117, www.crushery.com Open: Blue Fin Sushi Dine at Blue Fin Sushi, a two-month old spot in Stapleton, and you'll find a family-friendly restaurant with a serviceable, if basic, menu. As you might expect, the place simply crawls with children—babies in carseats, toddlers tasting sushi for the first time, and other children already chopstick pros. In the sea of families and patient waitstaff, we made our way through much of the menu and found that the simplest dishes were the most successful—two favorites being the tuna tataki appetizer and the fresh nigiri. Many of the rolls were overthought and oversauced, and we suggest skipping the dismal wine list in favor of a Sapporo. The verdict: Blue Fin isn't the best sushi in Denver, but it's a good spot when you either can't find a sitter or don't want to drive across town to Sushi Den. 7303 E. 29th Ave., 303-333-4006 Life List: Le Bernardin, New York City As the food editor, my work is never done: In Denver I dine out several times a week checking out new spots and catching up on old. Even when I'm on vacation I find myself planning the next meal, scribbling down names of restaurants, and ferreting out the next dish. Ever on a quest to learn more about food and restaurant trends, I blissfully traveled to New York this past weekend—husband in tow—to eat. We had mussels and frites at Pastis, legendary cupcakes at Magnolia, hot pretzels off the street, pizza in corner shops, veal cheeks at Craft, Tuscan-baked eggs at The Neptune Room, and lox omelets at SaraBeth's. But the most memorable, life-changing meal came in the form of a seven-course tasting menu at Le Bernardin, chef and co-owner Eric Ripert's ode to seafood. As the New York Times consistently awards Le Bernardin four stars and that Esquire rates it one of the seven best restaurants in the world, our expectations were sky high. We're happy to report that the experience was unparalleled as dishes such as warm Peekytoe-Maryland lump "crab cake" with shaved cauliflower and Dijon mustard emulsion and poached halibut with verjus-lemongrass infusion arrived at the table. Each bite was better than the last, perfect in its simplicity and gorgeous in its presentation. The seafood, which ranged from delicately smoked salmon to grilled skate, was heightened by Ripert's ethereal sauces (poured tableside), the flawless service, exquisitely paired wines, and a truly stunning collection of china. 155 W. 51st St., New York, 212-554-1515, www.le-bernardin.com