03 Jul Jus Cookin’s Restaurant, Lakewood, Colorado
I should feel a bit guilty about posting this week’s blog because only locals can partake of going to this restaurant. Unless, of course, you are planning a trip to the Denver metropolitan area, then you will definitely need to put this eatery on your must-do list while in this part of the country.
My travel writer husband Ron, had read that Jus Cookin’s was listed as Food & Wine’s 23rd best chicken in the U.S.A. We drove on a Sunday to Lakewood to see what all the fuss was about. We pulled into the parking lot of a building painted a sunny yellow with white trim , black shutters, and pots of colorful flowers placed around the exterior. I felt like we were visiting grandma’s house for Sunday dinner.
Inside, the owner, Char Modlich, gave us a warm greeting. Char, an elegant pretty lady with bright eyes and a gorgeous smile, graciously gave us a few minutes of her busy time to share with us the story of her and husband, Steve’s “mom and pop” restaurant. In a short moment, Steve wearing a chef’s apron, came out to join us.
Jus Cookin’s has been open for 27 years, but moved to this new location about 12 years ago. Working with their neighbor, Bill Jarvis, they had the building specially constructed for their business needs. (And yes, they are all still great friends !) Steve said “we are simple people, serving good food, made from scratch; kind of like the food we ate when I was growing up in the mid-west. ” The husband-and-wife team of 36 years of marriage, make a great team. Char’s eyes twinkled when she talked about Steve’s kindness and caring toward their customers and employees. She said that he is very enthusiastic about the food they serve. He is so extremely meticulous about cleanliness in the kitchen, which is probably the reason for being placed in the top three clean restaurants in Colorado.
Steve’s fried chicken moves through quite a process before it even touches the canola oil. The chicken is drenched in a brine, egg wash , flour and bread coating, all with special seasonings. He told us the recipe, like most good recipes, evolved from a lot of trial and error.
I’m one of those people who gets excited over a very good cup of soup. I wasn’t disappointed when I ate a cup of navy bean soup and also consumed about half of Ron’s homemade chicken noodle soup. The chicken noodle is on the menu daily along with a soup-of-the-day. The soup was served with a tasty yeast roll that puffed up like a big bubble and was light as air: not over-filling.
Ron had a plate of fried chicken, along with homemade mashed potatoes and a golden gravy with a side of freshly made cole slaw. His look said it all; he was happy. I just had to try the chicken pot pie. Underneath the flaky crust was chicken, veggies and a light, creamy gravy. Indeed, grandma would be proud of these chicken dishes. Steve shared with us that 95-100 chicken-related dishes are served on Sundays.
Char insisted that we must try their seasonal Raspberry Cobbler “before it disappears for another year.” How could we resist that? The cobbler was filled with large, fresh, sweet, raspberries glistening like shiny red jewels in the dish. Instead of being smothered in glops of dough, the dessert has a thin layer of baked crispy cookie-like dough. Gracing the top was a perfect ball of creamy vanilla ice cream which completed this traditional American treat. And to tempt us further, Char said we must come back at the end of July to try their very popular Peach Cobbler, lovingly hand-made only with Colorado-grown peaches. Oh, dear!
I really shouldn’t put this in writing but I have a feeling that some readers can relate with me. When we got back to the car, I was so full, I had to unbutton the top button of my white jeans. Then after a minute, for more comfort, the zipper had to be pulled down an inch … or two. Yup, just like when we use to leave grandma’s house after Sunday dinner.