DENVER, CO: Rose & Thorn is one of the newest restaurants to offer its version of Latin-inspired culinary dishes and rum cocktails in the LoDo area of Denver. Located near 17th and Blake Street, its brick edifice was transformed into a multi-level tasting mélange of South American and Caribbean flavors.
Hungry diners can enjoy a gastronomic, international respite, in the heart of the city.
On warm summer days, the patio is where locals can enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown.
The main floor decor is warm and inviting with plush, red upholstered booths and large, lacquered tree slabbed tables. Wooden floors and ceilings add to the overall vibe as does the bar, hopping during the happy hour with people enjoying lively conversation and libations.
The Ice Lab Cometh
One of the central visual elements is the Rose & Thorn Ice lab. The only such lab in the world according to assistant general manager Jordon Clark. Coolly lit with blue LED lighting, the inside is beautifully adorned with colorful ices in the shapes of roses and large cubes.
“We take fresh juices and purees, freeze them into molds and then pair these with a variety of cocktails,” says Clark.
This prevents dilution of the drink like standard ice cubes while enhancing the flavor profile as the “rose” melts. Thus making the first sip as good as the last.
They currently have eleven flavors of ice to complement their large cocktail menu. Choices include grapefruit cucumber, rosemary lemon, and bitter orange. One of the most popular is their “Honey, Don’t.” This is made with Leopold Brother’s Small Batch Gin, Lillet, honeydew, lemon, kiwi, and tonic.
The suggested pairing for this is their blueberry sage ice. As the ice melts, the juices combine with the spirits, creating a sweet and unique taste for the palate.
Man does not live by drink alone
The Rose & Thorn menu includes a variety of Latin street foods. The dishes are similar to those found in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Columbia. Try their duck taquitos with braised duck, tequila, kiwi salsa verde, crema, cheddar, micro cilantro, and beans.
This entrée is crispy, sweet and flavor intensive.
Downstairs you can transport yourself back to a 1950’s-era Cuban speakeasy with dim lighting and upbeat Latin music. Accents of old rum barrels on the walls and a bar offering 64 different rums complete the ambience. You can start with a Havana Club and then retire to one of their cozy tables for some authentic tastes of Cuba like their El Cubano auténtico (traditional Cuban sandwich), or ropa vieja.
The latter is a traditional island dish prepared with shredded stewed beef, Arroz congris, and perfectly cooked sweet plantains.
Dessert changes daily. Favorites include Mexican ice cream that has just a little heat from chili powder. Lemon shortbread cookies filled with a sweet chocolate finish the dessert.
Expanding the taste buds of Coloradoans beyond the standard burger and steaks is one of the goals of niche restaurants like Rose and Thorn. Of course, tasting is believing, and for those fortunate enough to try some of the dishes prepared by the talented chefs here, they may find themselves embracing Latin food culture that so much of the world relishes.
This was a sponsored visit, however, all opinions herein are the authors