In a recent issue, we wished for a dining scene with more small and intimate restaurants. Of course, the Plimoth, Z Cuisine, and Uncle already do this category justice, but now I happily add To The Wind Bistro to that list. The eatery has just 14 seats and the exterior is so nondescript, you can drive or walk right by without noticing it. Inside, however, is a fully functioning, finely tuned restaurant from chef Royce Oliveira and his wife Leanne Adamson.
The best seats are at the bar where you can watch Oliveira, a Mizuna and Axios Estiatorio alum, at work. There, he'll talk you through the eclectic beer and whiskey list, offer tastes, and help you make decisions. You can hardly go wrong with any of the dishes, but do note the menu changes on a whim (my favorite item, the chicken and dumplings, is already gone).
If it's available, order the slow-roasted salmon (pictured) with shaved fennel, citrus, and cured salmon. The entrée rings in at $18 but I would pay more for the expertly cooked fish and bright, thoughtful details that elevate it into something special. Other dishes: The popular Epic Stout waffle with duck confit, poached cherries, and shaved foie gras is indulgent and fun, but I would have liked a little more sauce to counter the waffle's dryness. To finish, order Adamson's banana-rum cake, which shows up with the frosting on the side so you can customize each bite.
If you've ever eaten at Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon, I'm willing to bet you'll love To The Wind for the same reasons: the casual, in-the-know vibe; excellent food; and a feeling that you're a vital part of the dining experience.
More to come: Jon Robbins, another Mizuna alum, opens Bistro Barbès in Park Hill next week. Because storage and space is so limited (there are just 30 seats between tables and the bar), Robbins will change the menu constantly. Look for French dishes with Spanish, North African, and Middle Eastern influences—all reminiscent of the Parisian neighborhood for which the restaurant is named.
To The Wind Bistro, 3333 E. Colfax Ave., 303-316-3333
Bistro Barbès, 5021 E. 28th Ave., 720-398-8085