22 February 2012

Restaurant review: Euclid Hall in Denver

I had read about Euclid Hall in Food and Wine, and I usually trust their taste.  This beer hall with hip cuisine boasts an impressive local beer menu and some interesting plates for lunch or a heavy snack.  Their cutesy “study hall” theme ranks beers by their complexity: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, etc. come with their own definitions of what level of complexity we should be tasting and a listing of appropriate beers from their vast offerings.  However, I found that the beers were lacking some complexity overall; being married to an extreme IPA fan, I can’t say that any of the IPAs listed were particularly strong or deep in flavor, though I applaud them for including so many on the menu.  There were a few Belgian sours, which do not interest me in the least, but if you’re going to get really esoteric, I guess that’s one way you could go.  And so began my journey into the world of Euclid Hall: unique, but not in a way that appeals much to my taste.

Did you know that EH makes their own mustards, and will provide a sample platter of all four upon request?  Awesome, right?  I freaking LOVE mustard!  But all four of them were heavy on the horseradish (and I mean HEAVY--like, totally unbalanced heavy) and shockingly sweet.  All four of them were like spicy desserts.  Really?  Not one of them could be sour?  Or spiced up with something besides a gob of horseradish?  Nice idea, but not well executed.  Same goes for their house-made sausages.  We got a tiny little guy for $4 (really, four, five bites, max), and it tasted heavily of liver with some cheddar cheese hanging out of it.  What is so special about that?

The Brussels sprouts casserole was right up my alley, and it found it pleasant.  But for $6, I got a tiny crock of about six bites of nicely steamed sprouts sitting on top of a runny cheese sauce and covered in a thick layer of those little canned “French-fried onions” you used for the top of your green bean casserole in 1970.  Tasty and possibly kitschy, but interesting?  No.

After quickly devouring our puny but pricey portions of disappointing food, we soured on the idea of ordering a plate of poutine, which at $9 per plate, had obviously lost its blue collar roots.  If I seem to be complaining about the prices a lot, it’s because I wasn’t satisfied enough with quality. So, although the idea of a plate of fries covered in cheese curds and smothered with gravy and my choice of wild mushrooms, duck, or steak sounded brilliant, I had already become a skeptic after the mustards, and I feared that a brilliant ideas would once again be executed badly.   I will say that, in a completely full first floor, not one table seemed to show any evidence of having ordered the quirky house dish.

Happy hour offers some pretty serious pints, wines, and well drinks for $3 each, daily from 3-6pm.  That’s a good deal.  I enjoyed my favorite Left Hand beer, Milk Stout, on Nitro tap, and it was lovely.  The Pottery Barn-like decorating coupled with “hip” music for thirtysomethings was also not terrible, though it made them seem like they were trying really hard.  As a place to stop in for a beer at the right time of day, I could imagine putting Euclid Hall on my light rotation if I lived in the neighborhood.  But as a place worth driving to experience, I must disagree with my favorite foodie magazine.  This place is all flash and very little substance.  If you want smart, well-prepared food, go to Le Central  If you want a good beer list, you’d be just as happy to Breckenridge near the stadium.  No lie.