Trendspotting: Balled Bites

November 14 2013, 10:30 AM

A few years back meatballs were all the rage, spawning openings such as the Meatball Shop in New York City. The trend moved west shortly thereafter, and earlier this year Denver got its first meatball-focused eatery when Jensen Cummings opened the Slotted Spoon. This fall, it’s not just meatballs anymore, but all things balled. On fall menus across the state it seems as if nearly every list of starters includes fritters, croquettes, arancini, beignets, or—have at it kids—balls.

At Osteria Marco in Larimer Square, chef-restaurateur Frank Bonanno and his team are serving warm Burrata fritters alongside a bowl of marinara with a dollop of arugula pesto for dipping. Over at Steuben’s in Uptown, executive chef Brandon Biederman just rolled out (no pun intended) a falafel appetizer that includes three deep-fried, herbed falafel balls with greens and house-made garlic hummus (pictured). John Broening, the latest toque behind the burners at Le Grand Bistro downtown, has been turning out sweet pea and goat cheese risotto fritters. Akin to arancini, Broening serves them with a tomato-caper sauce for dunking. And at Session Kitchen, which opened in Platt Park last month, chef Scott Parker serves Taleggio corn bread balls over a house-made kombucha hot sauce.

Farther afield, at Homemade Liquids and Solids, the Longmont roadhouse for Oskar Blues, executive chef Jason Rogers offers a bayou favorite: boudin balls served with Creole mustard. In Glenwood Springs, at Mark Fischer’s the Pullman, chef de cuisine Brett Thompson plates smoked trout beignets with almond butter and maple gastrique.

Call them what you will—humble balls or sophisticated croquettes—I’m all for chefs giving us an already-assembled, spherically-shaped, perfect little bite to begin a meal.

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—Image courtesy of Taryn Kapronica for Steuben’s Food Service