Last Friday evening Chris and Janelle collected me at the hotel that had been my residence for the week and we headed into downtown Denver to make our 6:15 reservation at Vesta Dipping Grill, a place that had been recommended by friends of theirs, as well as the recently ubiquitous Rachael Ray (seriously, the woman is everywhere!).
Our entire experience at Vesta was delightful. To start with, the place has a very sophisticated and intimate ambiance; pleasing aesthetic elements include exposed brick walls, large circular booths, and appropriately dim lighting, provided in part by appealing sconces and table lanterns. We enjoyed cocktails and the atmostphere while waiting for Cheryl and Joe to arrive. VDG's menu features a collection of succulent meat and fish entrees, each with an interesting and (at least to me) unusual collection of things on the side. Each entree then comes with 3 dipping sauces, chosen from a selection of over 30 sweet, savory, and spicy options. Before we made our selections, we regaled our waiter with questions, and he graciously provided answers, definitions, and suggestions.
I ended up going with the garlic tzatziki grilled lamb tenderloin with goat cheese campanelle pasta, fresh mint, and poached pear, and for dipping, the pistacio mint, cilantro pesto, and mango poblano salsa. YUM. The lamb was delicious and the sauces quite tasty. My only complaint was that the pasta tasted more strongly of vinegar than goat cheese, but with all the other flavors going on I found that forgivable. Janelle tried the salmon, Cheryl the pork tenderloin, Joe the bbq steak skewers, and Chris had the lamb. One of the great things about dining with good friends is that you can invade each other's plates, and so I discovered that Janelle's rosemary ginger dipping sauce was incredible, while Cheryl's pumpkin spaetzle was more fun to say than eat (it wasn't bad, just didn't taste like much of anything).
As if all of that wasn't enough, Janelle scored a complimentary dessert in honor of her birthday, and she generously shared her double dark chocolate cake (complete with raspberry, hot fudge, and custard dipping sauces) with the rest of us.
So, I'm with Rachael on this one - the Vesta Dipping Grill is definitely a highlight of the Mile High City.