You may be surprised to see me writing about the Hard Rock Cafe — and I am a little, too. I don’t usually frequent chains, other than maybe small chains that are all about good sourcing and from-scratch kitchens (e.g., Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar). However, I did find myself at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Denver the other day, because it was chosen as one of 12 cafes out of the 175 Hard Rock locations worldwide to be part of their “Test Kitchen” program.
That means that Hard Rock Cafe Denver and its Executive Chef Hans Andersen have been hard at work evolving the menu to feature fresh, responsibly-sourced, local ingredients. And starting on July 25, 2017, they started serving dishes such as Colorado Striped Bass and the Mile High Bison Burger — all locally sourced through vendors such as Seattle Fish Company, Freshpack Produce, and Rocky Mountain Natural Meats.
It’s nice to see the Hard Rock Cafe making these changes — especially it being a large chain. I think here in Colorado many of us are big on sourcing ingredients locally when possible, or at least I am.
Now for the part most of you probably care about, pictures of the food. These are my 2 favorite little sample bites I had at Hard Rock the other day: the aforementioned Colorado Striped Bass, and the Mile High Bison Local Legendary® Burger.
If you’re curious what these look like when they’re served as a normal portion, I got photos of those too!
This is the seared striped bass served atop a risotto corn cake, lemon beurre blanc, and fresh seasonal vegetables (in this case, asparagus). They’ve done a really amazing job with the fish, which I really wasn’t expecting from Hard Rock. It’s extremely tender and moist under that crispy skin. Even people who weren’t huge loves of fish said they really liked this one. And I’ve never had a risotto corn cake before, but this one was pretty perfect: super creamy on the inside, but crispy on the outside. It’s definitely a dish I would come back for — and it’s perfect for a work lunch downtown.
As for the Mile High Bison Local Legendary® Burger, it’s a house-made bison burger served open faced on freshly baked, grilled bread and topped with creamy mashed potatoes, Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale gravy, and crispy onions. This thing is pretty huge, so I’d probably do it for dinner (unless you can take a nap after lunch). However, I’m still definitely coming back for it. It’s a perfect representation of some of the ingredients that make Colorado unique, and it’s also the perfect comfort food if you’ve had a shitty day. If any of you remember Jonesy’s back when it was open in Uptown, they had these fantastic little happy hour sliders with thick slabs of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy that were just to die for — and this is better.