240 Union, Still Wonderful

March 3rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

240 Union in Lakewood, Colorado, is one of the best and most reliable, consistent, inventive, friendly restaurants in the United States. It was HG/BSK’s dining choice on their whirlwind trip to Denver. Michael Coughlin is the owner/host/maitre d’. The distinguished white-haired gentleman is a hands-on guy. He is all over the room in perpetual motion. He helps the servers, the table clearers, explains menu items to diners, guides wine selections. Michael knows wine. He has assembled “20 for 28”. That is a selection of 20 wines (red and white and all splendid) that sell for a modest $28. Wine drinker heaven. Cocktails are not neglected. HG began his dinner at 240 with a delicious Negroni (BSK, who abhors cocktails asked for a sip and approved). On to the food. After BSK finished a glass of sprightly pinot grigio, sommelier BSK selected a robust cabernet from Hogue Cellars in Washington. BSK’s appetizer was a beet salad with goat cheese. HG chose beef carpaccio with capers, red onions, mustard aioli, and parmesan. BSK’s main was Dayboat sea scallops (the lush dish was served with spaghetti squash, tomatoes, prosciutto and a dash of limoncello). HG chose a whole roasted Branzino. The crisp-skinned fish rested on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes (there’s also an option of smashed potatoes with onions and red peppers) and topped with garlic aioli. HG can assert, without reservations, that this was the best fish dish HG has ever tasted. HG/BSK could make only modest dents at the tasty desserts (key lime pie and sticky toffee pudding). 240 Union is not only a very good restaurant. It is the business, political, social center of populous Jefferson County. When HG/BSK lived and worked in the area it was their daily choice for lunch. BSK met clients there and plotted political, government and economic strategy. HG collaborated with BSK but also lunched at Palm Restaurant in downtown Denver which was more convenient for journalists (and there was a flattering caricature of HG on the restaurant wall). Underscoring 240’s political importance, Lesley Dahlkemper and Mike Feeley. stopped by the HG/BSK dinner table at 240. Lesley and Mike are two Colorado luminaries. Lesley is a progressive Democrat and a recently elected Jefferson County Commissioner. This is a very important position in Colorado and Colorado should be grateful that this wonderful woman is a political winner. Mike has been a long term leader among Colorado Democrats. A lawyer, Mike is a member of one of Denver’s most prestigious law firms. Lesley is carrying the family’s political banner aloft. HG/BSK enjoyed the brief but joyous reunion with the illustrious husband and wife duo.

Spinach – The Other Leafy, Green Treat

August 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Kale seems to be the trendy, green, leafy vegetable of the moment but HG still prefers spinach. HG did not always love spinach. As a little fellow, HG expressed negative opinions regarding spinach. A believer in the nutritional value of the leafy, green wonder food, HG’s cunning Mom would enclose spinach in a mound of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes. She called the dish “buried treasure.” The romantic name — evoking pirates, the Spanish Main and wealth beyond imagination — convinced HG the vegetable was good stuff. These days HG associates spinach with many splendid restaurant dishes. Creamed spinach of sublime quality would accompany a thick cut of savory boiled tongue (plus a boiled potato and fiery English mustard) at Al Cooper’s Restaurant (long closed) in New York’s Garment Center. Creamed spinach was very good at Ben Benson’s Steak House (also closed) in midtown New York. Palm Restaurant (branches all over the country) serves whole leaf spinach sauteed in high-quality Italian olive oil and plenty of garlic with its steaks and hash browns. The Compound, in Santa Fe, flanks its Chicken Schnitzel in parsley caper sauce with some leaves of sautéed spinach. When HG lived in Colorado he lunched daily at 240 Union, the very good restaurant in Lakewood. The chef at the time, Matthew Franklin, would nest broiled or sautéed fish on a mound of spinach. There was always a plentiful amount of mashed potatoes. What made the dish sing was the abundance of melted butter. Cooking at home, HG likes to place a grilled paillard of chicken breast on some spinach cooked with oil, garlic and a tiny bit of nutmeg. A spinach risotto is a comforting dish as is a rice pilaf mixed with spinach. A very simple dish is some good tortelloni or ravioli plus spinach in steaming chicken broth. Popeye was right. Spinach makes muscle. Take that, Bluto!! Wham ! Bam ! Kazam !


Cool Place In the Colorado Blaze

July 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The fire news from Colorado has been tragic. Many of HG’s friends have been in real danger of losing their homes. But, amid all the horror there has been a cool place to escape and dine. HG refers to 240 Union Restaurant in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. When HG and BSK stop in Denver (to make flight connections) they always have a meal there. One of the delights of 240 is the owner/host, Michael Coughlin. Besides having loads of Irish charm and conviviality, Michael knows how to assemble a wine list. His 23 for 23 group is an affordable pleasure — 23 varied (and tasty) wines for 23 bucks each. At dinner recently, HG and BSK had a dozen oysters (six Atlantic and six Pacific) with glasses of Prosecco. Michael uncorked a bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris from the “23” list (very crisp and similar to the British Columbia Okanogan Valley wines HG and BSK cherish). A platter of fried calamari imaginatively accompanied by fried shishito peppers followed. HG and BSK then shared some traditional English fish and chips (better than any HG has had in London). Dessert was a shared bit of very light lemon cheesecake with a blueberry coulis.

Colorado cuisine has come a long way from the days when it was dominated by hamburgers and tacos. Hope the fire season is over and gracious Western living — as exemplified by 240 Union — returns.

240 Union. At Sea.

March 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Denver’s 240 Union Restaurant (no, it isn’t actually in Denver but a few miles west in suburban Lakewood) is one of HG’s all time favorite dining spots. It has been run for many years by the warm and charming
Michael Coughlin, a man with a gift for hospitality and a talent for selecting the world’s best, modestly priced wines (at 240 Union, Michael has a list of 23 at 23 — 23 splendid wines for 23 bucks a botttle). Service at 240 is knowing and efficient. The bar turns out perfect martinis — dry as the Sahara and cold as a New York landlord’s heart. For a time during HG and BSKs Colorado business days, the restaurant functioned as their networking center where the business, political and cultural elite of western Colorado met for lunch every day. (HG’s downtown Denver spot for power dining was Palm Restaurant — HG’s
caricature adorned the wall over his favorite booth).

HG and BSK were in Denver this weekend for a memorial service for their dear friend, Betty Miller (please read the post: Betty Miller R.I.P. for more about this remarkable and valuable woman) and had two dinners at 240. As always, this landlocked restaurant in the middle of America manages to get fresh seafood and prepares it imaginatively. HG and BSK supped handsomely on perfect Pacific and Atlantic oysters on the half shell; Artic Char on a bed of corn and pea risotto; a whole, roasted striped bass with spinach and roast fingerling potatoes. A martini for HG. Prosecco for BSK. Fine wine from Chile for both. House made sorbets. A beautiful experience. Yes, you can go home again.

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