One of those places over the years has been Bistro Vendome. Though we've never formally dined there--that is, a multi-course meal off the dinner menu--we do enjoy their weekday special: $9 Mussels and Frites and $3 Fischer Amber. This is one of our favorite meal-deals in all of Denver, and we try to go whenever we can, whether it is to sit on the idyllic patio, or in colder weather at the bar where the friendly barkeep is sure to entertain.
A couple weeks ago when my wife's friend was visiting from Mexico, we took her to Bistro Vendome during a 70-degree March evening in order to show her one of Denver's finest patios. She happened to bring her camera and out of habit I grabbed it and started snapping photos.
The mussels are cooked perfectly every time. Each luscious, meaty belly glistens in the delightful, buttery broth, and beckons to be pulled from its dark shell. Besides copious amounts of butter the broth is flavored with thyme, garlic and white wine. Soaking it up with the toasted and sliced bread is just as good as slurping down the mussels themselves.
The fries are among my favorites in Denver: light, crispy, savory and sweet. They are coated in a champagne vinaigrette and dusted with herbs de Provence. In addition to being excellent on their own, they also make an ideal vehicle for soaking up more butter-sauce. Although I started by delicately dipping my fries into my remaining sauces (I was trying my best not to embarrass my wife yet again), I quickly followed my wife's lead when I saw her happily and without shame letting her fries soak in her mussel-broth before picking them out all sloppy and wonderful with a fork.
We also ordered the cheese and charcuterie plates. They were good but busy in presentation and I thought uninspired. Three small slices of cheese adorned the cheese platter, and while I appreciate the thoughtful stacking of breadsticks, the carefully sculptured sliced meats and the artistically fanned fruits, it was really just a few bites of cheese and a mouthful of meat.
The meats were better--the duck pate was wonderful with the fruit glaze spread and especially good with the house-made marmalade on the cheese plate. The house-cured thick bacon was also tasty, but created an awkward pause as it was meant to be slurped by one person (me) but instead had to be shared between the three of us.
The Bistro Vendome patio, on a pleasant late afternoon or evening is hard to beat. My Fischer Ambers went down beautifully with my buttery meal under the darkening sky of a 70-degree March day. It was another evening well-spent in the cozy confines of Bistro Vendome. One day we might venture there for a full meal but without a doubt we will be back for weekday mussels and frites--and beer and wine--for as long as they offer up this delectable deal.