I’ve maintained for a long time that the Denver-Boulder area is one of the best places in the country to be gluten-free. From natural foods stores that carry GF products, to bakeries, pizzerias, and restaurants, it’s all here at our fingertips. Now, The Corner Office restaurant and martini bar in downtown Denver gives me one more reason to love being gluten-free in the Mile High City.
The Corner Office isn’t exactly new – it opened in 2007 to rave reviews – but it’s gluten-free menu is hot off the presses. (TCO is part of the Sage Restaurant Group. I wrote about Second Home Kitchen and Bar, another Sage restaurant in Denver, for Cairn, an online magazine about all things Colorado. I won’t rehash the background on SRG here…if you’re interested, check out my article in Cairn here.)
TCO invited Kelli and me to sample the new gluten-free menu, and we were happy to accept the invitation this past Friday night. Here’s what we found:
The Corner Office caters to three main crowds: the pre-theater crowd, the happy hour set, and dinner guests from the Curtis Hotel upstairs. Rapidly increasing demand from customers for gluten-free offerings prompted the restaurant to develop a GF menu, which at the moment is in its relative infancy. At present, choices are somewhat limited (just three entrees for dinner, for example). However, it is a GF menu, no matter how large or small, and it does nicely span the menu spectrum, including a selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts. In addition, Executive Chef Jeff Bolton mentioned that he’s very interested in expanding the GF menu in the near future. “I didn’t want people to come in looking for gluten-free entrees, and have the servers point to three items on our entire menu,” he says. This is great news, and I expect that as TCO expands its GF menu, those increased offerings will pay dividends…both for the restaurant, and for the patrons (like me) seeking out GF dining options.
TCO’s food is internationally-inspired, with a definite lean toward Asian cuisine. We started our meal with the lemon edamame appetizer. The edamame were served warm, with a sprinkling of salt and lemon juice. The flavors were clean and it was a great start to the meal. We also shared a caesar salad – it’s not strictly part of the GF menu, but by discussing the ingredients with our knowledgeable server who was also very willing to head into the back and chat with the chef, we were able to confirm that it could be prepared gluten-free sans croutons. The caesar salad was also excellent. Kelli and I can both be picky when it comes to caesar salads… we don’t like when the dressing comes from a bottle, or when the component ingredients are out of balance. TCO’s caesar was spot-on.
The entrees are where TCO really shined. Kelli had the grilled filet. The centerpiece of the dish was a high-quality cut of juicy, perfectly-cooked steak. It was served with a mushroom demi glace, and a side of roasted fingerling potatoes and pattypan squash. Excellent. I had the crab pad thai. It was a genuinely enormous portion – after I finished my dinner, it didn’t look like I even touched the meal, and the leftovers provided lunch for both Kelli and me the next day! The crab pad thai is served with a generous portion of rice noodles, shredded carrot, cilantro, whole peanuts, bean sprouts, egg, a wedge of lime, and lump crab meat on top. For my taste, there was a little too much carrot and the peanuts would have been better crushed rather than whole. Also, the delicate and subtle flavors of the crab tend to get lost in the dish once you mix it up into the noodles. However, these are very minor criticisms, and I’m being nit-picky. Overall, the crab pad thai is superb. The flavor of the sauce was bright, and I couldn’t help eating more and more of this dish until I was overly full. And it was just as good reheated the next day for lunch.
In the end, Kelli and I both give The Corner Office very high marks. As the GF menu becomes more fully developed, and as more people find out about that menu, I’d expect TCO to earn a loyal following among the gluten-free dining crowd. Take it from me – I’ll be one of the first in line.