Brunch is a type of special meal usually reserved for weekends and bottomless mimosas with friends. It’s light and full of fun, a fun escape from the typical everyday life. from Denver La Rioja decided to elevate this concept by offering an exclusive evening brunch consisting of five courses accompanied by Alsatian wine pairings from Lucien Albrecht.
Every aspect of the evening was brimming with elegance and attention to detail. The dimly lit restaurant with exposed painted brickwork provided the perfect backdrop for an intimate night filled with assorted delights. Each lesson would begin with the evening’s host, Jeremy Reimann of Foley Family Winesdescribing the wine and its origins – all originating in Germany with the Albrecht family, whose first winery opened in 1698.
Chief Kyle Henson describes the dish served, and we started with a piece of French toast with French toast and foie gras served with strawberries and rhubarb, complete with delicate flowers placed on top. Every item on the menu had a French influence – the custard accompanying the dish had foie gras with just a hint of bitterness to perfectly balance the sweetness of the berries.
The second course raised the already high bar of the first, with a steak and egg variation with steak tartare, smoked egg yolk mash, potato rösti and parsley salad. This deliciously savory dish brought the familiar comfort of crispy hash browns while enhancing the flavor profile with creamy quail egg and decadent tartare.
To provide a more earthy flavor, the next dish featured white asparagus, popular in France, presented with smoked trout roe, a poached egg and a tarragon egg vinaigrette with frisee. This prepared our palates well for the next dish, duck and waffles – a gamey, fruity choice with various stone fruits, including peaches, apricots and plums, baked with mustard seeds to provide a sweet glaze. This dish was particularly well balanced with the sourdough waffle, leaving you wanting more.
To end the evening we were given a yogurt panna cotta with poblano blackberry jam and a fried croissant donut. This deliciously creamy and unctuous dessert goes well with the crunchiness of the donut, giving the event a satisfying ending.
The evening certainly wouldn’t have been complete without all the amazing wine pairings for each course, which complemented each dish beautifully. We were gifted with a wide variety, from Pinot Blanc to Brut Rose, which allowed each guest to gain a full understanding of the quality of wine that Lucien Albrecht provides.
This special Dinner Brunch event is part of the Rioja Wine Dinner Series, which takes place monthly. The next event on July 19 is a Taste of Mexico Wine dinner with Dana Rodriguez as guest chef as well as chef and owner of La Rioja Jennifer Jasinsky. To have your own special night and savor dishes you’ve never tried before, buy tickets here for his next event.
La Rioja is located at 1431 Larimer St., Denver, and is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
All photographs are by Jas Kitterman.