26 Jun Amazing Culinary Adenture, Denver, Colorado
One of the perks of being a Travel Writer’s Wife is that we get informed about great activities, events and restaurants in northern Colorado. Recently we had the privilege of visiting a special restaurant located in the LoDo (lower downtown) historic area of Denver. It’s cleverly named “1515” because of its location at 1515 Market Street.
Immediately upon entering we met the charming owner, Gene Tang, with a lovely smile and a welcoming handshake. He pointed out the newly remodeled Rewind Bar with a soft colorful background lighting on the wall that changes colors. Over 22,000 wines are kept in- house.
Mr. Tang guided us back to the kitchen to meet Chef Joe Arena whom was carefully chosen to work at “1515” because of Arena’s continental background, talents, and passion about food. In fact, Mr. Tang looks for these qualities in all the line chefs too. One of his personal goals is to train chefs to gain more experience so that they can move on to their own restaurants.
We walked upstairs to a large dining room with gentle low lighting.This restaurant’s location is one of the lucky businesses in this area of town that inherited the insides of the original brick walls built in the 1800’s. Beautifully laid out dining tables with crisp white linen table cloths and napkins, gleaming flatware and candlelight adorn the room. Vintage black and white photographs of Colorado are framed with white matting and stand out with a cool contrast against the rust-colored brick walls. I love chandeliers; they work well in almost any kind of room so I was delighted to see several chandeliers with artsy swirls of glass, hanging throughout this room. (Mr. Tang’s wife, Paula, is to be credited with this tasteful choice.)
I quickly surmised this would be an exceptional dining experience; one not to be hurried, but savored slowly and much like how Europeans enjoy their meals. After an amuse-bouche, a Wagya Beef dish was brought to our table. This was a first for me. In the center of a large platter, a very hot stone is placed surrounded by thin slices of beef. Each piece is picked up with chop sticks, dipped in a sauce, then carefully placed to cook on the stone, about one minute each side. The beef literally melted on my tongue.
The following dishes were served: a very tender lamb chop upon a bed of veggies, wild boar with risotto,and a perfectly cooked fresh salmon with horseradish sauce and Italian croutons. A cheese plate with four cheeses, local cherries, sunflower seeds and a small dish of honey were placed on the table. I tasted every morsel that was put in front of me. Actually there were several new food experiences for me and I did not shy away from trying them all. I’m glad I did, they were all excellent.
Mr. Tang has quite an extraordinary background which made him to be “born into the restaurant business”. His parents owned a restaurant in an Italian hotel. He said that he and his siblings were eating caviar at a very young age. They also had the privilege of eating at the best restaurants in Europe which all led to acquiring a refined taste of foods. In today’s lingo that would be a true “Foodie”. Along with his parent’s teaching them a strong work ethic, there were two important things for the children to learn before leaving home: #1 to cook and #2. to properly iron a shirt!
|Gene Tang using molecular cooking techniques in his kitchen|
Sharing his restaurant philosophy, he said, “We cook what we love to eat and at the same time care what our customers eat.” Every day brings interesting challenges including meeting new people, creating new menu items and serving great food. Mr Tang considers himself a lucky person because he gets to do what he loves. All of that and more was so very evident!