Healthy food sacrifices the flavor
Potager’s ambience doesn’t pick up the slack
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 23:10
Nestled between Whole Foods and the residential neighborhoods of Capitol Hill lies one of Denver’s pioneer farm-to-table restaurants, Potager. The restaurant delivers locally sourced food to its customers, and it delivers on friendliness and ambiance.
With a rustic interior to fit its earthy image, Potager seems to be a classy date night restaurant among the sandwich joints and pizza places that pepper Cap Hill. Exposed brick and cozy lighting give the restaurant a touch of romance, while the open kitchen chimes with the sounds of pots and pans as diners watch their dinners being prepared. The only problem is that the actual food is far less impressive than the restaurant’s aesthetics.
The starter menu consists of everything from soup to salad to soufflé. If you feel like risotto, however, you might want to find a different place to dine. The Red Wagon farm beet risotto ($15) with walnuts and goat cheese had all the makings of a perfect risotto, but the terrific flavor combinations were overwhelmed by the intense flavor of beets. While this may attest to the freshness of these root vegetables, the goat cheese was barely there and the walnuts were so sparse that it was a treasure hunt to find them.
Although the beet risotto was lackluster, the Wood Fired Bouchot Mussels ($15) saved the meal. The mussels were well cooked in a tomato broth, seasoned with roasted garlic, roasted chilies and lime juice. Too often, mussels are served with just butter and garlic. The flavor twists on this simple dish gave the mussels an original taste, with a hint of comfort food from the tomato broth.
Potager’s main courses change seasonally, and the Apple, Sage, and Rosemary Roasted Chicken ($24.95) seemed like a great way to ring in the fall. Unfortunately, this dish was the worst of the meal. For this price, the portion size was completely unexpected. It was tiny. Even calling the chicken tiny is an understatement—it was smaller than a Cornish hen. The texture was unpleasant to the point where it was inedible; this was tough beyond reason. The sage and rosemary flavor was lost in the dried out meat.
The upside of this entrée was the side dish: sweet potato-cheddar gratin. Layers of sweet potato and cheese soaked in the chicken’s juices definitely stole the show from the dried out mess of an entrée. The sweet potato was paired perfectly with just the right amount of cheddar.
Potager’s farm-to-table message is one with good intentions, but it’s lost in the mess of sloppy flavoring, steep prices and sub-par entrees. The ambiance is great for a date, but diners are better off heading to a less refined Cap Hill sandwich shop or pizza place and saving Potager for drinks.