Ocean Prime, Denver, November 2018

This is one of those “save the best until last” moments. The conference that I’ve been attending is nearly over, just a few more sessions tomorrow morning. Tonight, we are “out out” and some new friends have chosen Ocean Prime, a small chain that has restaurants in 10 states.

The name comes from its surf’n’turf combination of seafood and steak. Steak restaurants are ten a penny, so I’m definitely after some fish tonight. Which is just as well, as there’s plenty to choose from, including Colorado bass, salmon, halibut, ahi tuna, Florida grouper, lobster, sea scallops, cakes and Chilean sea bass. The steaks look good, but it’s got to be fish.

Which to choose though? The halibut looked interesting but a cauliflower puree didn’t seem to be a pleasant accompaniment. The Colorado bass had the most interestingly named accompaniment in “corn spoon bread” (so called because you scoop it with a spoon). In the end, the teryaki salmon with shiitake sticky rice and soy butter sauce won.

img_0151

What a great choice it was. Sweet, sticky and slightly smoky. A lovely piece of fish, and by far the best thing I’ve eaten since I’ve been here. Lovely and fresh and perfectly cooked.

There was also a turn on, playing rock and pop covers from the 80s, 90s and some 2000s. The Mark Diamond Duo are regulars here, and their background music made a nice change from the endless sports that have been screening everywhere else.

All of these things add up to a lovely evening out.

A little aside to finish with. One of our party, from Florida, disappeared for quite a while after they had finished their dinner. It turned out that they had been out to buy some “herbal cigarettes”, as Colorado is one of the ten states where the recreational use of cannabis is legal.

The Corner Office, Denver, October 2018

A not so spooky night out. More networking after a long day of conferencing. My conference day started at 7:30am with a “brain date”. That’s a chat about work stuff if you were wondering. And yes, that does say 7:30am. Even if you can throw a stone at the conference venue from your hotel bedroom window, it’s still an early start.

When you get invited to a networking event later in the day, it does lift the spirits a bit. Another buffet tea, chicken legs, vol au vents, cheesecake, etc. As it turns out, no work chat, since I spent most of the evening talking about travel, our trips to Vegas, Oz and New Zealand being the main topics of the evening.

A choice of seven decent beers (and Stella, which is treated as exotic here) made for a relaxing evening, with lots to select from, including one that I had last night. Three more local beers ticked off tonight. To start, Pretzel Assassin, an amber lager from Denver Beer Co, with a nice touch of maltiness.

IMG_0128

More travel chat and more beer. Simone Rosé Saison from Renegade Brewing Compay was a French style Saison made with wheat and rosé juice, making for a refreshing and interesting beer-wine hybrid.

IMG_0130

Another Renegade brew to wrap things up, the Envy Brut IPA. For me, another fizzy lager that is not an IPA. I’ve yet to meet one that lives up to the letters I, P and A.

IMG_0132

A fun night. It was Halloween but there were fewer scary outfits here than I saw on Sunday afternoon’s travels around the city. In fact the staff here just had random fancy dress, nothing to do with Halloween, which was rather confusing. Denver seems to be a city where it’s harder to find bad beer than it is to find good.

Hyatt Regency, Denver, October 2018

My home for the week, but this is going to be the only post about it, because apart from sleeping here and meeting a few people before dispersing elsewhere, it’s not somewhere we’ve chosen to eat or drink.

Meetings two and three today were here, with a briefing from a super-global-mega-corp (revenue in 2018, $40 billion) who decided that they could manage to buy one drink for their guests, alongside a few bowls of crisps (well, tortilla chips, since despite their president’s dislike of Mexico, they sure do like their Mexican dishes).

img_0099

This Odell IPA was a lovely bit of bitterness. Looking back through my Untappd history, I spotted that I’d had an Odell imperial porter way back in December 2014. I was not far away from their tap room the other day, but I didn’t get time to stop by. They seem to have found their way into plenty of downtown drinking establishments, a real Colorado success story.

Since I won’t get another post about it, a quick few words on the Hyatt. It’s incredibly convenient for the Colorado Convention Centre, spanning 14th and 15th Street. Apart from that, there’s not much else really going for it. I had several issues with my bookings (one corporate, one personal), starting on arrival on Saturday night. The last thing you want when you step off a plane and into a hotel is to have hassle about the credit card used to pay for your room.

That’s what I got. Due to a timing issue, the card used to pay for most of the booking (not mine) was declined. So I had to authorise a payment on my own card before I could check in. They seemed to view me as some kind of criminal. Then, when a new authorisation was sent across today, they apparently couldn’t open the PDF file, and wanted it faxing across. Faxing. In 2018.

Interesting that I managed to open the same PDF file, and print it, on their “airport check in” PC kiosks (they hadn’t realised that you can open a new tab in the browser and just use any page on the web). All in all, not the greatest of customer service experiences.

Edit : a few days later and this did all get sorted out, but it took way too long.

Edit 2 : on checking out on the Saturday, they tried to charge me for a breakfast, or several, on Sunday morning. I didn’t eat anything from the hotel bars/restaurants, so they said it would be sorted. I had paid for the last night myself.

Edit 3 : my credit card bill has arrived. The breakfast charge is still there. I have contacted them to query this.

Edit 4 : they have sent me a new bill. It contains the $47.20 breakfast charge for a breakfast or breakfasts that I didn’t have. Another e-mail, increasingly snotty, has been fired off.

Edit 5 : no explanation, no apology, but they have finally refunded the spurious breakfast charge. It is now December.

Renaissance Hotel, Denver, October 2018

Another quick post from Denver. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m here with the day job, which is in full flow today, with four different meetings in three different places downtown. Most of the day will be spent at the Renaissance, a Denver hotel that was built inside the former Colorado National Bank. During the renovation, they added two new floors to the building, whilst retaining most of its features, including the three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals depicting the life of Native Americans on the plains. Three of the bank’s massive vaults were also retained, including the basement meeting room where we are spending some of the day. The thought of doing some kind of Ocean’s 11 re-enactment did cross our mind.

img_0092

The coffee was a bit ropey, but the buffet lunch (chicken legs, vol au vents, cheesecake) was not too bad, with some nice pizza (still warm from the oven), braised chicken breast and some salad and other bits.

img_0091

A nice hotel for a meeting, and it’s cool to explore all of the old bank vault bits and pieces. Oh, and they also had small TV screens inset into the mirrors in the toilets so you could watch ESPN Sports News (or whatever the equivalent of Sky Sports News is) whilst you wash your hands. Yes, they really did have those.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, California Street, Denver, October 2018

Another day, another chain restaurant. A seafood chain this time, and a few more people have gathered in Denver now, so we opted just to cross the road and go here. I can see it from my hotel room, so it was pretty inevitable.

As you might expect, there’s a lot of shrimp on the menu, but that’s not really my thing. Most of it is breaded and deep fried too. There’s also tilapia, salmon and mahi mahi. Alongside that there’s steak and ribs and a burger. I had the Texas chicken sandwich, deep fried chicken breast (super crispy batter), bacon, cheese, guacamole, chilli ancho mayo and fries. Oh and some limp shredded iceberg. And a nice tangy pickled gherkin. It was pretty good stuff.

img_0088

Another decent selection of beer, fast becoming a thing here in downtown Denver. My choice was Trail Beer by 10 Barrel Brewing Co, from Bend, Oregon. It was a tasty pale ale with notes of citrus and pine, and went nicely with the chicken. Later on, I discovered that this was another AB InBev beer, one of the portfolio of things that they’ve spent the last few years gobbling up.

img_0087

A decent dinner once more, in slightly odd neon tinged surroundings.

Henrys Tavern, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

Another night, another bar full of wall to wall TVs showing a feast of sports. You certainly don’t need to miss any sporting action if you want to go out to eat in Denver. It’s everywhere.

Henry’s is a small chain which originated in Portland, but it was hard to tell it apart from Yard House, where we went last night. Not quite so many beers on tap, but still a decent selection, and a similar menu with the usual selection of burgers, tacos, pizzas, fish’n’chips and stir fries.

If I see a BBQ chicken pizza then I’m likely to have it, and that was the case here, BBQ marinated chicken, applewood smoked bacon and “sharp” cheddar (which didn’t lacerate my mouth).

img_0040

Another local beer to go with it, Upslope lager, malty with a crisp finish, brewed up the road in Boulder.

img_0039

Nothing remarkable about this place, but a perfectly pleasant place for a pizza and a pint (actual volume of pint may vary, because Americans have a smaller gallon, so if you have 1/8th of a gallon here it’s 473ml instead of 568ml). Oh, and there’s sport. World series again tonight.

Mockery Brewing Co, Delgany Street, Denver, October 2018

In my “research” so far, I have uncovered some simple facts about Denver. One of them is that you can almost trip over brewery taps and great bars on every corner, on every block. I have been doing that this afternoon, and the final stop on my city stroll (before catching a train back downtown) was Mockery.

Another friendly welcome awaited here, and once again I picked a couple of beers for my final flight of the day, with advice from the bar staff for the other ones. A nice atmosphere inside, but given the sun was about to set over the Rockies I sat outside to enjoy the glorious pinks and reds of a Colorado sunset, and to enjoy some more beers.

img_0035

Continuing the musical theme from earlier, I started with Wish You Were Here, where the fruit was very subtle, and it was a nice easy drinking golden ale.

Blue Steel was next, another blonde ale with an interesting flavour, lightly balanced malts.

Something a little more lively next, a gose called Spruce the Goose, packed with super funky forest fruit flavours. Lovely stuff.

Proceedings closed with Farmhouse Ale, another one packed with dark fruit flavours, from 12 different malts, farmhouse yeast and rooibos tea.

And here’s that sunset.

img_0037

A lovely quiet space in the city, well worth seeking out.