Chef Justin Kalaluhi rocks Rocks
If there’s one sangria that should fill your libations bucket list this summer, let it be the glass of Blanca that Rocks Modern Grill will serve you al fresco on their patio.
This refreshing cocktail features fresh fruit and muddled mint. Happy Hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, featuring a rotation of specialty cocktails (like the sangria blanca), $5 glasses of Kessler Collection wine and $4 Colorado draft beer selections.
Everything on the Rocks menu is under $30, but the innovative cuisine brought together by executive chef Justin Kalaluhi and sous chef Andrew Fox gives depth to every dish.
Spoonfuls of tomato gazpacho are smooth and bright, highlighting the same natural acidity as a lively glass of sauvignon blanc. The seasonal and gluten-free soup is topped with shaved jalapeños, cucumbers and cilantro for a slight kick and cool finish.
Coconut milk gives a creamy twist to the shrimp ceviche appetizer, also gluten-free, and served with avocado, half-plum tomatoes, lime, cilantro and crispy corn tortilla rounds. Try the very sharable dish with some sips of French rose, hearty enough for seafood but light enough for summer.
“Over the years, I have just gotten more and more fond of roses in the summertime,” shares manger Adam Lewis over exchanges in the restaurant’s private dining room, available by request.
While most of the Kessler hotels and restaurants are located on the East Coast, their staple calamari starter still reaches the west. Lightly breaded and fried, what makes this squid really stand out is the curry-spiced Moroccan aioli, set into the perfect bite with the quick wit and mature age of a reserve California pinot noir.
Kalaluhi’s talents foster far beyond the fry, however, as banquet options at this establishment offer their very own creative cuisine.
“We don’t even have banquet menus,” Lewis explains, “so every time we have a catering event, Justin sits down with the guests and lets them play around with what they want; he builds it from scratch — builds them their dream.”
It’s the same sort of intuitive inspiration that Richard Kessler finds in his wine collection, which is only available on Kessler properties. His Bohemian Collection Red Blend combines the backbone of cabernet sauvignon with merlot, syrah, petite syrah and zinfandel — a silky combination of black pepper and succulent berries.
Try the blend with a prime flat iron steak, served with house cut fries, chili broccolini and a trio of creamy horseradish, red wine demi-glaze and jalapeno and onion jam.
Finally, a ramekin of warm Palisade peach cobbler is delectable with vanilla ice cream, pecan streusel and bourbon caramel. Top it off with a glass of Dolce late harvest dessert wine, worth its weight in liquid gol