As those of you with kids know, having them completely changes the way you do certain things--and has you doing things you have never done before. For example: I regularly wake up at 5am, I spend endless hours and copious amounts of money in stores that I barely even knew existed a year ago, and when trying to make the crying stop (theirs not mine) I find myself jumping up and down like a chimpanzee. One thing, however, that my wife and I have tried hard not to change is going out to eat.
If I were writing a blog about Denver's hippest and fanciest dining, I would have long ago shut down (not just because the public would have demanded it) because I wouldn't feel right rolling into a new opening (not that I would be invited anyway) with two infants that at any moment could scream bloody murder.
Luckily, however, the places my wife and I tend to frequent serve food from cultures where, for lack of a better phrase, babies rule. Take for example the many Mexican taquerias that we patronize: One couldn't feel more welcome with two babies in his arms. In fact, when was the last time you went to a crowded taqueria and didn't have some being under three years old screaming and/or running and/or crying and/or causing general mayhem?
So when I received a text from a few of our baby-less friends one Saturday afternoon asking if we would be joining them at Ernie's Bar. I was hesitant. I had never been to this somewhat new establishment that replaced Three Son's on Federal and 44th so I wasn't sure how welcoming they would be of two 10-month old infants who though generally quite well-behaved have been known to, well, act like 10-month old babies. But we were out that evening anyway so decided to drive by and check it out.
Immediately the hostess and staff made us feel extremely welcome. They hurried to rearrange chairs and tables so that we could fit at our friends' table. They asked over and over again if we were comfortable and if we needed anything for the boys. We settled in as comfortably as you can "settle in" with infant twins, and it was only then that I looked around I noticed that despite the "Bar" in the name "Ernie's Bar", this was very much a family place.
And the food? It almost doesn't matter, because to be in a restaurant with table service, big screen TVs and a full bar was pleasure enough for us. To sip on a freshly pulled draught beer from a cold pint glass while hearing the din of bar-room conversations in the background was a very good feeling. I could see a sporting event on the television from where I sat. I was ecstatic.
It is with this considerable bias that I say that I really enjoyed the food. We started with buffalo wings. They were well-cooked and spicy. The sauce was classic.
The pizza special for that night was a white clam pie. I had already sampled a friend's chicken and caramelized onion pizza with Fontina cheese. The crust was incredibly thin, but didn't fall apart or flop around as you might expect. It was crispy but with enough heft to have a little softness to it. The edges were light and fluffy without being dry. I remember thinking that it was excellent. The toppings were fine, but I didn't love this particular combination.
When I got my white clam pizza I was equally as smitten with the crust, but also just as neutral on the toppings. I did like it, but I guess I prefer pizza toppings like basil, tomato sauce and the like. (Again, the bliss of this bar-experience was clouding my judgment.) I will withhold final take on Ernie's until I am able to go back and try a more simple and traditional pizza, but based solely on this crust I would expect very good things.
This review of mine was clearly clouded by my I'm-back-in-a-bar glasses, but from what I could tell Ernie's Bar serves solid pizza and wings. I don't want to dissuade those without kids from going to Ernie's either. I bet after eight or nine some good old adult drinking goes on in there, and being on the corner of 44th and Federal means that you just never know what excitement might be awaiting you.
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