Friday, August 28, 2015

24 Carrot Bistro, Erie, Colorado: A Gold Mine

     I am ecstatic to introduce to you, dear readers, a true gold mine in affordable fine dining, right in the little town of Erie.  We struck gold when we discovered this month- old gem while biking.  24 Carrot Bistro is an exemplary example of good food, done right.  Everything I learned in culinary school, they are doing it.  I was not surprised  that a couple of their line cooks are Escoffier students.  They are open for lunch and dinner every day of the week and soon, brunch on weekends.
     24 Carrot, a play on words, sources its produce and meats locally.  They also recycle and compost as much as possible.  They have a thriving herb garden in the back patio.  The main dining room is long, high, and spacious.  Garden relics adorn a wall with exposed red brick.  The floors are hard wood, as is the gorgeous bar.  The bartender is not only well groomed with sharp sartorial sensibilities, his craft cocktails are equally lovely.  I highly recommend the peach, black tea, and tarragon house soda.  It was well balanced, not too sweet, and refreshing after a 23 mile ride.  (Note to fellow bicyclists, it's actually only 13 miles from Broomfield to the restaurant).
     Somewhat embarrassed to dine in our spandex attire, we were assured by the warm hostess that all are welcome.
Our waitress was prompt and friendly and tolerant of our many questions.  The lunch menu is smartly limited to a single page.  From the appetizer section, we chose the Daily Dip Trio.  It arrived with three separate vessels of dip and "chip".  The first was a creamy buttermilk and feta with grilled crusty bread.  It was light and fresh.  The second was house made tortilla chips with guacamole.  The guacamole was slightly chunky with lots of onion. The chips were fried to a golden and delicious crisp. The third was a red pepper hummus with crudités of carrots and radishes.  All were delicious and a bargain at $6.  
     The salads all sounded wonderful, but my southern heart desired the shrimp and grits.  I was not disappointed.  A visually tantalizing plate of fanned Gulf Coast shrimp sat atop a bed of yellow Anson Mills grits and bright green arugula.  An artfully drawn coral remoulade sauce provided visual interest as well as depth of flavor.  The shrimp were seasoned and cooked perfectly.  The mildly spicy remoulade was not over powering.  The grits were creamy and toothsome.  The peppery greens provided  contrasting sharpness.
     The Bistro Burger, one of the most popular items, was stunning to behold.  The thoughtful plating features the starring burger.  The waitress thoughtfully disclosed that "medium" would still have some red in the center, as it should if the best quality meat is used, but not everyone enjoys this.  Ribbons of house made pickles were skewered atop golden brioche buns.  The burger comes with melted white cheddar cheese at no additional cost (who would turn that down?).  A thick slice of green tomato, purple onion, and spring greens elevates this otherwise common American staple.  It was hard to get the whole stack in one bite, but once you do, you can't put it down.  The accompanying bistro fries were equally addictive.  They are the epitome of GBD, golden, brown, and delicious.  All for $10!
     Of course, they would have a pastry chef.  And the list of goods was tempting, including a 24 Carrot cake!  Don's favorite.  How we walked away without dessert is a miracle.  But we still had to bike home, and that's hard to do on a too full stomach.
   I was so smitten, I had to extend my congrats to the chef/owner.  He was humble and gracious to take time out of his busy day to chat with us.  This place makes me eagerly anticipate what's next.  I may just become a regular!
24 Carrot Front Door
Fresh Farm Flora
Gorgeous Bar and DJ, the Tender
DJ's arsenal
Main dining area

Garden art
Herb Garden

Back patio
House Soda: peach, black tea, and tarragon

Daily Dip Tiro

Shrimp n' Grits

Bistro Burger