Scan the appetizer menu at the week-old Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar in the Spire and several dishes will likely jump out—the five-spice duck crêpes and the brandade fritters among them. I suggest ordering both.
In the former, you'll find the delicate coconut crêpes give way to soft, pulled duck, the salty-sweet of hoisin, and the crunch of napa cabbage. The only question is how to eat them: with a fork or with your hands? (I suggest picking them up.)
I'll go back again and again for the brandade fritters, a classic French starter made of salt cod and olive oil. Chef and partner Arik Markus serve these crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside nuggets with a beet relish, frisée salad, and a tangy sauce Gribiche made of hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and mustard. The cozy but refined dish creates a balance of texture and flavor that underscores Markus' culinary pedigree. (He's cooked in kitchens ranging from Boulder's Frasca Food and Wine to Oliveto in the Bay Area.)
The dish, in fact, can serve as a metaphor for the restaurant as a whole. Walk into Row 14 and find a polished, graceful space that strikes the right notes of high-gloss and comfort. I have no doubt the place will be on a wait in no time.
Bonus: Don't miss owner and wine director David Schneider's impressive wine list (note the aggressive pricing). I can't wait to go back for a bottle of the Cashburn, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand.
891 14th St., 303-825-0100
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