With so many new restaurants downtown, it can be hard to decide where to make a reservation. Allow me to narrow the field: Go to the two-week-old Trillium, located across the street from Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria. Here, chef-owner Ryan Leinonen (Root Down, Colt & Gray) combines Scandinavian know-how with American comfort, turning characteristically stark ingredients such as root vegetables, horseradish, and rye bread into beautiful, compelling dishes.
Take the apple, rosemary, and cheese curd bread pudding (pictured): This savory, heartily flavored starter is brightened with a celery sprout salad—and it's one of the best dishes I've come across in recent months.
Likewise the winter salad: mandoline-thin slices of turnip, pear, kohlrabi, and carrots tangle with frisée and aged Gouda. The vegetables' crunch and heartiness is offset by the ever-so-sweet vanilla vinaigrette and marbled rye croutons.
Pull it all together with the grilled, flaky whitefish entrée, which is counterbalanced with peppery mustard greens, nicely textured mashed potatoes, and a dazzling grilled beet vinaigrette.
2134 Larimer St., 303-379-9759
Photo courtesy of Rick Cummings