My trip to Denver this past weekend meant that I could hit up all my favorite restaurants from when I used to live there. It might come as a surprise, but one of my favorites is a breakfast spot – Gaia Bistro. Of all the great restaurants in Denver, my heart (and stomach) goes out to Gaia. I think my husband and I lived in Denver for about a year until we found this place, but after that it became habitual. The restaurant is a small house nestled on Pearl Street. They have a large garden in the back and a wrap around deck and patio for summer dining. In the winter you have to get there early since there are only about nine tables inside and a wait list forms quickly (no reservations). The decor inside is all about food, and their lights are made using large egg whisks and colanders.
The menu items at Gaia are all made from scratch and they have rotating specials featuring ingredients from their garden (during the growing season anyway). They specialize in crepes, but they also make all their own sausage, bread, and bakery items (impressive for a kitchen that looks smaller than 300 sq ft). As much as a I love a great cappuccino, I always order the house coffee here. It is served in an individual french press, and it is delicious. When you first sit down, the server brings over a brioche mold filled with their daily selection of breakfast bread. This weekend it happened to be pumpkin, which was super moist and not overly spiced. One of my favorites on their menu is the egg sandwich. It is so simple, but there is so much flavor. It is served on house made bread with sage sausage, basil pesto, tomatoes & cheddar. I also love that it comes with fresh fruit instead of greasy potatoes. My wish is that we could have a restaurant like Gaia in Reno, but until then I will have to brush up on my bread making skills and make my own version.
One place I really wanted to try before moving from Denver was Root Down. Since they had just opened before we left though, I never had the opportunity. I booked a reservation for Sunday night, and it worked out perfectly. Sunday is the only night they offer their $52.80 three course pre fixe menu for couples (5280 is an important number in Denver because it represents the number of feet in a mile, and Denver is the Mile High City). Root Down is another restaurant that specializes in farm to table dining. Their food features seasonal specialties and is not overly fussy. The style of the restaurant reflects this as well. The space looks like a converted old mechanic garage with low lighting and a lot of candles. The pre fixe menu was a great option and we were not disappointed. All three courses were really well done, but I think the starters were my favorite part of the meal: Curried Carrot Soup, Beet Salad, and Sweet Potato Falafel. All three were delicious and made me want to come back just to experience their small plates menu.