My fiancé and I, looking to change up our casual dinner routine, stepped into Assignments, a full-service restaurant on South Broadway. After taking in the unassuming facade, we were pleasantly surprised to be formally greeted by a maître d’, who sat us at one of the 12 tables. White linens, full place settings, and soft jazz set the mood. Over buttery olives and pickled local beets, we watched the cooks bustle about in the glass-front kitchen.

We each selected a starter from the four-course, pre-fixe menu: the crispy chicken confit with microgreens and Champagne vinaigrette for me and the mozzarella-stuffed arancine (a fried risotto pouch) for him. The chicken dish was rich, and the arancine arrived hot and paired with a balsamic reduction and tomato sauce. Then we were on to bright salads and fresh ciabatta. For entrées we chose, from a handful of options, the Alamosa bass with tangy chermoula (a North African marinade) and a strip steak with silky cauliflower mash and house-made steak sauce. The finale? Flourless chocolate cake with chipotle pine-nut brittle and sour cream gelato for me, and a peanut butter cream and strawberry compote profiterole for my date. The tab? $42.

Surprised? Here’s the catch: Assignments is run by students at the International Culinary School of the Art Institute of Colorado. The space, tacked on to the school building itself, is slightly forced; the service (aspiring chefs take turns waiting tables) is earnest but sometimes awkward; and the restaurant does not have a liquor license. But the fine-dining touches—crumb removal, choreographed plate delivery—and the seasonal menu are spot-on. Try it for a long lunch or date night and enjoy one of the best values in the city. 675 S. Broadway, 303-778-6625


Three-Course Lunch, $12
Four-Course Dinner, $21
Sparkling Monin Italian Tonic, $3
Sumatran Single-Origin Coffee, $2