Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Learning the Facts of Lunch with Hi Rise, Hutch & Spoon and Udi's

I don't get out to lunch that often during the week. I work in an isolated part of town, and frankly get so swept up in my work that there are days when I don't even get outside to breath in any semblance of fresh air, much less all the way to my car to go out and eat. Sad in a way, but I like what I do, and to get me through the day, I often remind myself that as a fact of life, one must take the good with the bad; it is then that I start humming the timelessly wise melody of Mrs. G, Tooti, Blair, Jo and the gang.

I had a total crush on Jo, before the mullet.


So as I was saying, because of the facts of my life, I don't often get to those places that close down for dinner. In the last couple of months, I have made it out a whopping three times to breakfast-and-lunch-only places, and for these sadly rare, but nevertheless monumental events, I thought I would share.

Hi Rise
My first lunch adventure happened at Hi Rise bakery. A while ago, during a Cuban sandwich frenzy, the good people at Hi Rise sent me a "tweet" letting me know that they too, had a Cuban. Now this was before I really knew what Twitter was for, much less that people could (or would) send messages directly to me-- I thought it was cool enough that I knew when Shaq was in the can, or when Lance Armstrong was donning his spandex. So needless to say, I didn't find the message until a couple of months later, and made a mental note. One Sunday when my wife and I were wandering around downtown, we came across Hi Rise on 21st and Larimer and went in to see.

We ordered and I did get a Cuban. As I remember it, the ingredients between the bread were pretty much right on. The bread was very good too, and I will say that I enjoyed the sandwich very much, but it was not traditional Cuban bread, and so it is hard to call it and rate it as I would a Cuban. Let's just say it is a great deli ham sandwich on fresh baked bread. My wife got an excellent bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich on soft and delicious white bread. Both are worth going back for.

I also really liked hanging out in Hi Rise. I took advantage of the free internet and enjoyed the open, airy space. What I really liked was how friendly everyone was. Mid meal someone from the back room (the owner, I assume) came out smeared with flour and smiling ear to ear. He proceeded to go table to table and ask every single customer how his or her meal was. You don't often see that, and I appreciated what I perceived as genuine passion for a craft and care for a business. So much so that I bought a half-dozen jalapeño bagels and a loaf of bread, both of which made my boring office lunches a little nicer that week.

Hutch and Spoon
Part two took me to Hutch and Spoon, the new-ish day-time eatery down the street from Hi Rise on Larimer and 31st. It is a long and narrow space, tastefully decorated with lots of wood and exposed brick; both antique hutch and giant spoon sit near the entrance, as I suppose would be suspected. That day it was sunny, warm and inviting. The staff was friendly and helpful as we mulled our options. Not being all that hungry, my wife and I ordered a meatball sandwich and a pear and mixed greens salad to split. Everything tasted fresh and the salad was particularly vibrant. The sandwich was surprisingly hearty and the meatballs were well-flavored and moist. The highlights, however, were our homemade sodas: vanilla passionfruit and cucumber. Especially the cucumber. For whatever reason I love cucumber drinks, but usually only find freshly juiced cucumber in the street stalls of Mexico. This version was fresh as well, but the carbonation put it over the top for me. If I was famous, and that soda got bottled, I would be doing ad after ad for it, cheesing for the camera as I touted its special powers ("...unleash the awesome power of apples! cucumbers!"). The passionfruit was good too, but I will go back again for the cucumber soda.

Udi's Bread Cafe - Stapleton
And last, but definitely not least was Udi's. Definitely not least because the French dip sandwich, with its tender and juicy medium-rare roast beef is out-of-this-world delicious. OK, maybe I exaggerate, as I did actually have this one on a rare trip to the outside during a work week; and during those rare adventures, everything I experience takes on the rosy hue of freedom. There is, however, likely a reason that it made it on the Westword 100 best Denver dishes list. The beef, which is apparently fresh-roasted daily, is covered in caramelized onions and sticky, melted Gouda. The bread, a crusty baguette, is also excellent--as I have come to expect from Udi's. Dipped in the rich Au Jus, it is a sandwich that should be savored and relished, although I devoured mine with the haste. It really is rather delicious. I didn't have my camera that day, so I borrowed a beautiful image taken by the Westword (hope they don't mind):

That about does it for my latest lunchtime adventures. Udi's in Stapleton is now going to be open for dinner again, so I guess that solves my lunch dilemma there. I would also love to get back to both Hi Rise and Hutch and Spoon as often as I can, to continue to sample the gamut of their breakfast and lunch options. In the meantime, I will be holed up in my hole of an office (where, by the way, the world never seems to live up to my dreams), humming away as I munch on my not-nearly-as-tasty homemade sandwiches.

Udi's Bread Cafe at Stapleton on Urbanspoon
Hutch and Spoon
Hutch & Spoon on Urbanspoon
Hi Rise
Hi Rise Bakery on Urbanspoon


  1. Bro, this post tastes a little overly sanguine to me for someone as cynical as I know you to be...

  2. Sanguine? Who the hell says that?

    This one was a little cheesy, but I have been rather cheery lately.

  3. With a rich dip au jus...



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