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|November 27-December 3, 2008
• Culinary bookworms
A gift guide for the chef on your list
by Carolyn Jung
Right on Thyme
Millennium’s restaurant steps up to the plate
by Clay Fong
With the hiring of Executive Chef Dedric McGhee earlier this year, Boulder’s Millennium Harvest House Hotel boldly ups the ante at its restaurant, Thyme on the Creek. Sophisticated offerings such as lacquered duck provide more than just sustenance for captive lodgers; they’re also an attractive inducement for locals to check out the upscale menu.
On a recent visit with longtime Boulderites Sandra and Doug, we entered Thyme’s dining room, best described as inoffensive mid-level hotel. The restaurant was quiet on a Friday night, with one business traveler pecking away at his laptop between bites. Poor sap. The youthful servers offered a warm greeting and consistently struck the right balance of being friendly but not familiar. The menu offers a half-dozen entrées, representing most protein groups, and features vegetarian risotto for herbivores.
For starters, Sandra selected a $7 mixed greens with orange vinaigrette, while Doug followed the traditionalist route with an $8 Caesar. Sandra’s salad was fine, but not nearly as enjoyable as Doug’s choice. Here, a perfect ratio of lip-smacking dressing to crisp romaine delighted, but what made this dish stand out were the unusual elements crisped parmesan, preserved lemon and polenta croutons.
My appetizer was the $10 grilled scallops, served over fricasseed potatoes and corn caviar, a savory and deeply satisfying hash augmented with tapioca and wild mushrooms. While the scallops were salty on the outside, their rare interior, firm texture and delicate taste made them equal to those of a specialty seafood restaurant.
Sandra’s $23 pan-roasted striped bass entrée came sided with Brussels sprouts and roasted tomatoes. The concentrated tomatoes offered bold flavor, and the sprouts were pleasingly al dente and provided an almost nutty foil to the subtly flavored fish. The fish was flaky and moist, and the crisp exterior was a pleasant reminder of the fried smelt from Chinatown grocery stores that I enjoyed as a child.
The $27 petite filet was Doug’s top-shelf choice. Served atop crisp rösti potatoes, the only quibble was that the shrimp garnish was salty and overcooked. But the perfectly rare steak compensated, as the pan-searing locked in a surprising amount of flavor in a cut more known for its tenderness. On that note, when Doug attempted to cut his tender steak with his fork, it was like the proverbial hot knife through butter.
Desiring the ultimate in comfort food, I selected the braised buffalo osso buco. A tip of the toque to McGhee’s New Mexico experience, this Wild West version came atop a tangy Chimayo chile risotto. The buffalo shanks themselves were meaty fare with a full-bodied taste profile. Overall, this dish was everything I had hoped it would be, a generous helping of rib-sticking fare with sophisticated flourishes.
For dessert, Sandra and Doug split a serviceable plate of $7 tiramisu made off-site. I enjoyed the $7 walnut bread pudding, this time a nod to McGhee’s New Orleans experience, which included a stint with Emeril Lagasse. Although it lacked the entrées’ sophistication, it was still a decent choice, coupling warm nutty tones with vanilla ice cream.
If this restaurant’s goal is to broaden its customer base to more than just hotel guests, it’s succeeded admirably. Thyme’s well worth a local’s time, and in terms of value and flavor, it holds its own with top Pearl Street spots.
Clay’s obscurity corner
Osso buco all Milanese
Osso buco alla Milanese is the culinary ancestor to the braised buffalo shanks served at Thyme on the Creek. Unsurprisingly, this hearty dish of veal shanks originated in Milan, Italy, and is traditionally served over a risotto seasoned with saffron, although Thyme’s Wild West version substitutes chile for this pricey seasoning. Literally translated, osso buco means “bone hole” (which certainly sounds better in Italian), a nod to the fact that marrow seeping out of the cut bones contributes heavily to the richness of the dish. Interestingly enough, buffalo marrow’s reputation for flavorful qualities has earned it the sobriquet “prairie butter.”
Thyme on the Creek
1345 28th St.,
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