This past week, I traveled to Denver for work and I got to visit one of my favorite people in the whole world. And, she suggested a fantastic restaurant for us to have a 'girls night out' - Linger. Win, win - good friend, good dinner.
Linger is in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the skyline and a hip, urban vibe. The restaurant itself is open and airy, accented with vintage decor. I immediately loved the scene - trendy, but not uptight. And our server was super friendly and very attentive -- he had great recommendations about cocktails to try and menu items that stood out among the rest. All around, a perfect setting with wonderful service.
Since I had sat on a plane for about four hours, I was definitely ready for a cocktail. The La Rosa immediately caught my eye with St. Germain, Aperol, Lemon Juice, Rosemary and Prosecco. It was absolutely delicious, light and refreshing with a soft sweet finish. Yum!
For dinner, our server recommended we chose 3 dishes to share, and after much debate, we settled on the Popper "Breakdown," Mongolian BBQ Duck Bun, and Carrot and Lentil Falafel.
The Popper "Breakdown" consisted of sishito peppers, cheddar curds and orange-habanero jam -- cheese and spice, two of my favorite things. The peppers where lightly sauted and tender while the cheddar curds were flash fried with a crispy outer shell. This small plate was outstanding. It was the perfect balance of spice from the peppers with the sweet jam to give it a smooth finish. Our server recommended grabbing a pepper with a cheese curd and dipping it in the jam. The trio of these flavors combined was amazing - it just popped in your mouth.
The Mongolian BBQ Duck Buns were served on a doughy bun topped with tender, succulent duck flavored with scallions and miso-pickled cucumbers. I also tasted a sweet orange sauce with the duck meat which rounded out the dish. The duck buns were quite tasty - meaty with a slight bitterness from the pickled cucumbers.
Our last dish for dinner was the Carrot and Lentil Falafel which were made from garbanzos, cashews, chile, scallion and gingered shittakes into falafel balls wrapped in butter lettuce with a herbs and lemon tahini yogurt dipping sauce. The falafels were dense little balls with a crispy shell and had a spicy bite to them. I loved the tahini dipping sauce, it added a depth to the falafel with its creamy texture.
Even though I was completely full, my friend FORCED (literally, forced!) me to have dessert. We opted for the Italian "Coffee & Donuts" which were zeppoles served with an espresso-chocolate mousse. Growing up in NJ, we always used to head to the pizza place after school and order zeppoles for a snack. So I was skeptical about how Denver might fare in this arena. And I have to say, I was impressed. The zeppoles came in a little brown bag that you shook to cover the zeppoles with the powdered sugar. The dough balls were warm with a crunchy shell and spongy center. We dipped the zeppoles in the mousse and it was amazing. A fun dessert with a great presentation and a sweet ending to our dinner.
Overall, I have to say, I loved Linger. Not many restaurants get everything right - the atmosphere, impeccable service, and delicious food. But they did. Well played Linger, well played!