Go Now: Bittersweet

January 2011

Dinner Saturday night at Bittersweet, chef Olav Peterson's new spot at East Alameda Avenue and South Pennsylvania Street, was a revelation. This is the restaurant Denver needs: It's fresh, it's exciting, and it's smart. We appreciate that Peterson and his wife, Melissa Severson, opt for quality instead of quantity. The lovely space, designed by Severson, holds just about 60 seats (come spring, two garden-enclosed patios will add more seating). I suspect Bittersweet is on the brink of becoming the most coveted table in town.   

Every dish—especially the lamb cannelloni with house-made pasta and fresh ricotta, and the multifaceted clam chowder—arrives brimming with thoughtfulness and pride. Presentations are stunning but accessible, and sides (duck with sweet-potato spaetzle, monkfish with cauliflower-lobster hash) do what they should: work in tandem with the main event instead of detracting from it.

The small menu is jammed with winning dishes, but one dessert in particular—the cherry pie with boozy, house-made bourbon ice cream—inspired much conversation. First bites of the individual-size latticed dessert reveal whole Chilean Bing cherries—a delightful surprise in January.

"I love that there are two cherry seasons now: ours in July and August, and South America's, which is now," says Peterson. "It's been fun to give diners something really unexpected this time of year."

In fact, I think this treat is the perfect way to celebrate Great American Pie Month. Go now, before it's no longer available.

Bonus: The pie reminded me of the five-gallon tub of frozen sour cherries I have stashed in my freezer. Inspired, I've got plans to turn those Western Slope beauties into this.

500 E. Alameda Ave., 303-942-0320