In case you haven’t read my other restaurant reviews there is something you should know. I have a list, a very exclusive list called Lea’s List of Deliciousness. The rules are simple. To make my List, all of the diners in my dining party have to agree that every plate was exceptionally delicious. If one diner has a bad meal, the restaurant doesn’t make the List. It doesn’t matter if it is one out of four diners or one out of a dozen diners if anyone has a single bad bite of overcooked tuna or undercooked chicken, it doesn’t make The List. Here are three Colorado Springs Restaurants that made my List.
Carlos has it going on. Carlos was there to greet us when we arrived. He made sure to visit every table at least 3 or 4 times. And yes, his tie over the shoulder is his trademark. Don’t judge this joint by the outside, it looks very unassuming. Inside it is jam-packed with charm. Let’s just say, two bites in we were all giving each other the “It makes the List!” nod.
We had four diners this time. One had the Veal Piccata and Risotto. You don’t know this woman, but she is p-i-c-k-y. I have never seen her finish a meal, ever. She said the Veal Piccata and Risotto was AMAZING! It was the first time she’s eaten the whole slice of veal! I am pleased to report a miracle. She cleaned her plate.
I had the Pasta with Clams & Mussels. Had a straw and bib been offered, I would have sucked up the chardonnay, shallot, garlic cream sauce it was that good. I wondered if the chef takes bribes to share his sauce recipes.
One diner had the Pork Chop, and we all had to resist licking his plate. The apple brandy reduction sauce was unlike anything we had ever tasted and it entirely complemented the pork. Lord, have mercy! We needed a pint of sauce to go.
One diner had the Salmon and Risotto. His very clean plate told it all. He said it had been a while since he had salmon that good.
All entrées are sided with mixed vegetables and your choice of mashed potatoes or risotto and broccoli or sautéed spinach.
We shared the Creme Brulee and Bread Pudding. Skip the Bread Pudding and go straight for the Creme Brulee!
It’s a little on the spendy side, but you’ll feel like it was time and money well spent!
Carlo’s Bistro |1025 South 21st Street. Colorado Springs | 719.471.2905
The Pepper Tree
Don’t judge this book by its cover either. What it lacks in curb appeal, it makes up in one of the most exceptional dining experiences you will have. The ambiance is warm and inviting, the service is impeccable, and the view is spectacular. Your dish will be prepared or finished tableside. (The dress is business casual. Do not show up in your shorts and flip-flops.)
We wasted no time starting with the Portabella Mushroom with Gruyere in port wine sauce. You know how I feel about mushrooms (or maybe you don’t). It was divine. We also had Caesar salads, prepared tableside. Yeah…get that.
Okay let’s be honest, we came for the steaks. If everything else is as good as the steak, you will drop to your knees. We had TWELVE diners for this little dinner party, and only one ordered something other than steak.
That person ordered the New Zealand Wild Salmon, lightly grilled with orange and Grand Marnier reduction. He said it was “ridiculously good” and from the look of his plate, it must have been.
Ten of us, yes that’s TEN, ordered the jewel in Pepper Tree’s crown, the Pepper Steak. Center cut filet served with a mango chutney you will die for, cracked pepper and French Brandy. Cooked perfectly and so tender! Without a doubt, it is the star of the show. They serve 6, 8 or 12-ounce steaks. Who cares about the pasta, rice or potatoes (although they were good too).
One rebellious eater ordered the Steak Diane. Also, a center cut filet, finished in a demi-glace and heavy cream sherry sauce. He said his steak was superb, but I bet our Pepper Steak was better.
The Pepper Tree’s steak reputation is still intact. Treat yourself to one of the best steaks you will ever have. Order the Pepper Steak. The Pepper Tree makes my List!
The Pepper Tree |888 W. Moreno, Colorado Springs, CO 80905 | 719.471.4888
The Rabbit Hole
The Rabbit Hole. Now, this is a funky little underground joint with excellent food! It’s down in a dark “rabbit hole.” It makes the list hands down. It has a fascinating history (ask your server about it). The food is Alice and Wonderland inspired. The service was excellent, and the food was fast.
If you are looking for appetizers, try the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Thai Chili Glaze and Bunny Bites with Berry Mustard. They were both unique and really tasty.
Our party of six enjoyed this interesting menu with it’s wild and adventuresome dishes.
Two had the Bacon Wrapped Rabbit Meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and smoked tomato demi-glacé. It was some of the best meatloaves they have ever tasted. The other four of us had a bite and concurred. Make sure someone in your party has it!
Our most unabashed diner ordered the Cherry Braised Buffalo Short Ribs in a cherry demi-glacé with mashed potatoes, green beans. He couldn’t stop talking about how good there were. He was not afraid to lick his fingers to drive the point home.
Two diners enjoyed the Seared Scallops over Forbidden Rice Risotto with truffle snow and green beans. Personally, I was delighted they ordered it so that I could see what “truffle snow” was all about. It turns out you can get good seafood in Colorado, at least at this place.
I had the Braised Portabello Mushroom Cap with carrot risotto and walnut gravy. It was a delicious, light dinner. Again, what’s not to like about a portabello mushroom?
It’s worth mentioning…get the carrot cake. Really.
You’ll want reservations, so call ahead. Six out of six diners are putting the Rabbit Hole on my List.
The Rabbit Hole |101 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 8090 | (719) 203-5072