If you’re a chef at a restaurant whose menu changes every season, it’s a curse and a blessing. Coming up with new dishes keeps the cooking lively, but not all menus are created equal. Some are good, some, not so much. This is a good, nay great, season to eat at La Tour. Whether the chefs have been painstakingly refining each dish, or whether the lot was revealed in a sudden flash of inspiration, is not important. This one’s a keeper.
La Tour has a slightly new feel these days. The music is more upbeat, creating more of a buzz. But it’s still all about fresh ingredients, solid technique and attention to detail. And the food is just plain fun. The yellow fin tuna two ways showcases the familiar fish, pulling out two different flavor profiles. One is cold ” clean and crisp, layered with cucumbers. The other is rich and hot, wrapped in a basil shell and encased in a crisp crepe. It’s the butternut risotto (a rice-less affair) that really sticks with you. The seared scallops are a terrific way to go, dotted with a leek emulsion and surrounded by prosciutto vinaigrette. Tempered by caramelized cauliflower, the zesty, savory dish is the creation of sous chef Timothy Wastell.
When chef-owner Paul Ferzacca eats in his own dining room, he goes straight for the pasta. Hand-made in house, it changes daily. Agnolotti, pappardelle, ravioli, tortolloni ” each one is filled, sliced or shaped by hand. Talk to chef de cuisine Bill Messick and you’ll understand he’s a man who wants pasta to be a vessel. “I don’t like biting into a ravioli that’s all pasta,” said Messick. “I like there to be as much filling as pasta.” And with fillings like braised lamb, roasted pumpkin and lobster chunks, that sounds like a really good idea.
Lamb has become commonplace in Colorado, and it should. It’s local, sustainable and delicious. This season, lamb becomes exotic again. Rubbed with bittersweet chocolate, thyme and pepper, the grilled meat comes with a ride-along Moroccan delicacy, b’steeya. If food can transport you to another world, get ready for noisy bazaars and sun-baked sandy streets. Wrapped in tissue-thin layers of phyllo dough, the ground lamb is infused with figs, spices and sweet mystery.