Our first trip was for brunch during the final farmer's market at East High. I was tempted to cross the street for some delicious arepas, but with two Encore DINR coupons burning a hole in my pocket, we stuck to the plan. I can't believe I had yet to set foot inside Encore, what with the lovely musical din and kitchen emanations wafting through the always ajar glass doors that loosely separate it from Tattered Cover's magazine area (here too I save money on magazine subscriptions). It was a chilly fall day and we huddled down in a booth under old Lowenstein Theater lettering from the building's historic past.
We scanned the menu and granted that it might have been one of those mornings where hunger clouds judgment (it usually is for me), everything looked good. I settled on the breakfast burrito and my wife a scramble with a side of fries. The scramble was classic omelet flavors: Swiss, tomato, spinach, mushroom-- the ingredients fresh and the eggs not overcooked. Pretty basic, and nothing too exciting, but the famous fries that came on the side were indeed good. To live up to their reputation as one of Denver's best plates of fries, however, you must love mustard and mayo. They come drenched in house-made blend of spicy mustard and mayonnaise, and while I did think the fries were excellent, my wife didn't love all that mustard-like-substance smothered all over, preferring it on the side.
Great fries-to-egg ratio
What we both did love smothered was the green chile all over my plate . For a place with cloth napkins and table service, Enocre puts together a respectable green chile. The tomatillo-based chile was classic and simple, the only drawback being that it was entirely without spice.
The burrito itself was filled with thick bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh avocado and big chunks of skin-on potatoes. The shredded lettuce looked nice, but just got it the way. All in all it was a worthy breakfast burrito that I would order again.
Impressed enough with our brunch visit, we returned one night in between films at the Denver Film Fest. This time around we were ready to try the much-hyped Encore burger. The Encore burger is often touted as one of Denver's better burgers (see here, and here) by burger lovers, and even if it were to disappoint, at least we got to order more of those fries.
My wife somehow tricked me into ordering the lamb burger, while she ordered the traditional Encore burger. The ground Colorado lamb was tender and packed with flavor. It was sandwiched between two pieces of flatbread, lathered in an excellent tzatziki sauce and padded with crisp lettuce and cool cucumbers. It was delicious.
As you can see in the picture above, my plate is noticeably without fries. My wife was feeling particularly devious that evening, and also hoodwinked me into getting the apple slaw instead of the fries, promising me she would hardly eat her fries so I could have "most" of them. Against my better judgment I consented, and while the apple slaw is decidedly not fried, it was quite refreshing against the strong, heavy flavors of my lamb burger.
I did get my hand on some fries after all, and also enjoyed two enormous bites of her Encore burger. This indeed is a very good burger. It was slightly charred but moist and well-cooked. The burger sauce is the hook-- an upscale bacon and bleu-cheese topping. An aside: trying to improve a classic burger topping like bacon and bleu cheese makes me skeptical at best. I am not a fan of fancy wording for simple dishes, and putting the words "compote" and "burger" together sounds like a slippery slope into a lifetime of pretension. But Encore has done well to improve upon the classic, and the creamy, rich compote, mixed with little chunks of bacon is delicious. Like the fries, no other condiments are offered. And none are needed.
Over 50 years ago, as you probably know, the Lowenstein Theater was one of Denver's hubs for theater and arts. It is nice to see it now fully revived and full of cultural-y things like books, music, film-- and well-crafted food. The execution on everything we sampled at Encore was spot-on, the service friendly and the atmosphere inviting. It is a shame that I waited so long to eat at Encore, and with the little I sampled earlier this year at a Harvest Week event, I shouldn't have been surprised at how good the whole package was. It won't be long until I return. Next on my list is that flatbread pizza with figs and prosciutto.