Bite of the Week: Gravy Cheese Fries at Steuben’s

If you follow me on social media, you’ll have probably seen my photo of these this past weekend. And if you don’t follow me on social media, you should:

You’ve probably heard of Steuben’s before, since it’s been around since 2006 and has a perpetual line out the door for brunch (at least the one here in Uptown does). It’s one of those places that is a really interesting mix of modern decor and food — and old-school, diner classics. I love coming here for some comfort food and creative cocktails, although I tend to try and avoid busy brunch times and go for happy hour instead (3-6pm & 10pm-close daily). But if you do end up going for brunch, I highly recommend the cast iron french toast — a fluffy, sweet pillow of goodness floating in caramel sauce inside a little cast iron skillet.

That aside, let’s talk about my Bite of the Week, which is one of my favorite things here at Steuben’s — the gravy cheese fries! I’m a sucker for a good plate of  smothered fries, but I’m also picky about how it’s done. I mean you know how disappointing it is to order a plate of fries with a topping, and then get a big bowl of fries with just a little something on top — so you end up eating 3/4 of the fries plain. (I know, first world problems.) Well, this isn’t one of those plates.

The gravy cheese fries at Steuben’s are crispy skinny fries that are smothered with delicious gravy, and then covered with cheese. And it’s not gross, cold shredded cheese — it’s perfectly melted and even starting to crust a little on top. You definitely need a fork to eat these, which means you’re doing it right.

I also can’t end this post without a mention of another one of my favorite dishes here, the Monte Cristo sandwich. And no, I didn’t have a clue what this was until I looked it up. Google told me it’s a fried sandwich that is “a variation of the French croque-monsieur” that was popular in American cookbooks in the 1930s–1960s and “combines the sweet flavors of French toast with ham, turkey, and cheese.” Sounds good enough — I decided to try it. It may not be for everyone, but if you like dishes that combine sweet and savory, you’ll love this. It basically tastes like meat and melted cheese inside a fluffy beignet with powdered sugar on top. Those are a few of my faaaaavorite thiiiings.

 

Also, the burger here is pretty fantastic. I always get just the classic burger with some bacon on top — as should you. Steuben’s serves Tender Belly bacon, and the strips are always huge and perfectly crispy. Everything is better with bacon, right? 😉

Parting: don’t spend $23 on the lobster sandwiches here. I think you’ll be disappointed. There are just so many better options here, especially for the price. For a good lobster sandwich, I recommend trying the one at Blue Island in Cherry Creek.

 

Humboldt: A Fantastic Sunday HH on a Patio in Uptown

Humboldt Farm, Fish & Wine is one of my top 2 or 3 favorite places to go on a Sunday for happy hour. They have a perfect patio for lounging about — and also $1 oysters ALL SUNDAY. Happy hour starts at 3pm — so if you get here early, just gorge yourself on some oysters first, and then order more food off the HH menu once 3 rolls around. I’m sure the brunch is also delicious, but I just love the HH menu here too much.


$1 Oyster Sundays

Yes, you heard that right. They’re $1! That’s cheaper than anywhere else in the area (even Jax does them for $1.50 for happy hour, and they don’t even open until dinner). And these aren’t just their happy hour oysters. ALL the oysters must go. So premium oysters are all $1. That’s pretty much my definition of the best deal ever.

Humboldt oyster Sunday

Just note: it’s only while they last, so if you show up after me on a Sunday, sorry! 😉

Humboldt oysters


The Happy Hour: 3pm-6pm every day

You always need to know a few spots that have HH every day, not just weekdays. And this is one of them. Wines and beer run just $4-$6 for some fantastic options, and cocktails are $6.

I’m also pretty much in love with the HH menu here. So far, I’ve tried everything on it but the mussels (but I hear Mondays are now Bottomless Mussels day, so I’m sure to remedy that shortly).

Humboldt HH menu

I’ve tried a lot of different chicken liver patés around Denver, and this is one of my favorites (and only $5 during HH). The trout one is also good, but I prefer the chicken. Unfortunately, I think they only have the trout one now.

Humboldt pates

The Humboldt Burger won Westord’s best burger a few years ago, and you’ll see why when you try it. There’s a $4 mini slider version of it on HH, too!

Humboldt HH burger

The veggies here are surprisingly good too (I only say surprisingly because I’m mostly a carnivore). We got the brussel sprouts and crispy broccoli — and holy crap, that crispy broccoli is one of my favorite veggie dishes ever.

Humboldt veggies


The Wine

I can’t not mention the wine. As a California transplant, I love wine. I drink a lot of it, and I know my way around it pretty well. So trust me when I say Humboldt has a fantastic selection of affordable, unique wines. I’ve had probably half of the white wines here — and I have yet to be disappointed. They’re also currently doing a Summer of Rosé, so ask your server about that!

Humboldt wine menu

My Favorite Brunch in Denver, Louisiana Style: Sassafras

Denver is pretty crazy about it’s brunches — in a way that I’m somewhat baffled by. There are literally 30-60 minute wait lines out the doors of Steuben’s, Snooze, Jelly, and the such. Hipsters love them some brunch. But I hate lines, so it’s usually a lost cause to try and drag me to a popular brunch place unless the food is pretty amazing (and booze, because brunch must have booze).

Except for when it comes to Sassafras…

I will always go to Sassafras if I get the chance. The Capitol Hill location is at 320 East Colfax, although there’s also one on 2637 W 26th as well. The food is amazing and the drinks are spectacular. If the words “beignet,” “gumbo,” and “Bloody Mary” don’t conjure up a special, magical place in your head, then there’s something wrong with you.

NOTE: It does get busy here and they don’t take reservations, but you can sometimes call ahead when you’re on your way to hold a table.


THE ATMOSPHERE & SERVICE

inside Sassafras
I love what they’ve done with the inside here. It’s absolutely adorable — from the mini chandeliers, to the colorful cloth napkins, to the cute salt & pepper shakers, to the painted alcove made to look like a Louisiana terrace. It feels spacious and hip, but also comfortable and homey.


THE FOOD

Sassafras beignets
If there’s one thing you take away from this: get the beignets. A “beignet” is a French pastry that’s commonly eaten for breakfast in New Orleans. It’s basically freshly-made, deep-fried choux paste (light pastry dough) — that’s then covered with powdered sugar and served while it’s still hot. Worth…every…calorie. And don’t forget to try their homemade berry jam with it, too. I would even say that these are better than the ones at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans (our altitude makes them fluffier).

As for your main dish, you can’t really go wrong here. If you’re a fan of hollandaise (which sadly I am not), my friends have all said that Sassafras has some of the best hollandaise they’ve ever tried. And the Oyster Po’ Boy is a proper po’ boy, overflowing with juicy fried oysters. I highly recommend getting a side of dirty rice with whatever you get (it’s got meat in it!).

Fried Green Tomato Benedict
Fried Green Tomato BenedictMy personal favorite, though, is the etouffee. An etouffee is similar to a gumbo, but poured over rice. There’s crawfish, shrimp, tons of butter and spices, and optional bacon (get the bacon). If you like Cajun food, you need to try this. I could literally eat this every day. In fact, I probably overeat every time I get this, because it’s a pretty large portion (and I’ve just had the beignets), but it’s just too good to stop! I know, first world problems.

Sassafras etouffee

 


THE DRINKS

Sassafras bloody mary and apple mimosas and iced teaBLOODY MARYS: I’m pretty picky about Bloody Marys. I hate if they’re too peppery, or taste like they came out of a bottle, or not even remotely spicy (I hate a lot of things). But these are damn near perfect. I recommend the “Sassafras” Bloody Mary (house-made spicy tomato mix, with a quail egg and bacon on top). Again: bacon! If you like it really spicy, the “Marie Laveau” Bloody Mary is spiked with ghost chili. I wouldn’t do the “BBQ” Bloody Mary again (and this is coming from a huge meat-lover). It’s just too sweet for a Bloody Mary.

MIMOSAS: If you’ve never had an apple mimosa, you need to try it now. It’s like drinking a boozy Martinelli’s cider — which is pretty much the moment when your inner child and adult collide.

ICED TEA: Even the iced tea is delicious (and they keep refilling it). And yes I know, it’s weird for me to be talking about a non-boozy drink, but we all sometimes need to take a break and re-hydrate. Or you know, add some bourbon 😉

 

And with that, I’m back to stuffing my face with beignets!

Natalia eating a beignet

Actually, one more thing.

I found these awesome little salt & pepper shakers last time I was there, and I just had to share 😉
Sassafras pig salt and pepper shakers