Gin, Beer, and Beignets

Avenue Grill
630 E. 17th Avenue

Everyone who knows me knows that I love a good hotel bar; so the idea of finally trying out Ship Tavern had me delighted before I even set foot in the place.  After a drink or two, I was loathe to leave the AC and the insulated ‘we-are-all-just-travelers-here’ camaraderie of the Tavern, but snacks of a slightly more affordable nature were hollering at us from up 17th Street. So Karl and I bravely set forth, back into the scorching heat, and further on up the hill.

Our second stop for the afternoon was our original destination: Avenue Grill.  Opened in 1988 and styled after the supper clubs of the 1930s and 1940s, Avenue Grill is one of my favorite places to drink in the Uptown East neighborhood.  I just love this place.

Remember me saying, I love a good hotel bar”? Well, what I love even more is a really good hotel bar that’s not actually even in a hotel.  Avenue Grill is that bar. Just stepping into the place always makes me feel like I am in an historic hotel in Any City. I just want to park myself at the bar with a book and an excellent beer. The service at the Grill is always excellent, the snacks are tasty, the bartenders are knowledgeable and very friendly – the sort of thing one comes to expect from the best hotel bars. There always seems to be an immediate familiarity between bartender and drinker at a hotel bar; an effort to give the weary traveler a moment of comfort and ease while in an unfamiliar place.  The hotel bartender’s job, in many ways, is to make the patron feel like they are a regular and to treat them as such, even if only for the night.  It is this sort of service that I have always received at Avenue Grill. Combine that with the 1940s-inspired retro sign, the spacious 1920s building with its pressed tin ceiling, the warm blond wood of the bar, and I just feel like I should be able to say goodnight the bartender and crowd and walk right up the stairs to my room.  It’s just that kind of pleasant and comfortable place.

Avenue Grill is that bar. Just stepping into the place always makes me feel like I am in an historic hotel in Any City. I just want to park myself at the bar with a book and an excellent beer

Anyway, Karl and I finally made it to our destination after our sludgy humid walk from downtown (seriously, I am pining for that ‘dry heat’ Denver generally has – there has been nothing but humidity over this summer – although I am delighted that the state is not on fire this year, as in previous years…so, you know, that’s a decent trade-off…). We immediately went to sit at the corner of the bar.  With just a few other patrons further along the bar – and only a couple of occupied tables – it was quiet, cool, and just the right thing for my over-heated brain-meats.  Our bartender, Chris, immediately brought over a couple of ice waters and I ordered my Avenue Grill usual – the Avenue Amber (a very nice, mellow amber ale). Karl went with a dry gin martini with a twist, hoping that the crisp clearness of the drink would banish any remaining effects of the lingering heat. Once we had our drinks, glancing periodically at the lone TV in a high corner (which was showing some local sportsball team), my growling belly quickly reminded me what else was missing. After a perusal of the menu, we got the Fig and Prosciutto flatbread (with ricotta, watercress, and peppers), along with an order of beignets (new item for brunch – warm, not too sweet, completely covered in powdered sugar and resting on some raspberry jam).

Granted we were starving, but the flatbread is really tasty (and fills the hole punched in my soul when Encore closed up and took away their Fig & Pig dish…but that is another story entirely.  Suffice it to say, I like fig jam and cured pork products, together, in perfect harmony), and the beignets were quickly demolished.  I had another Avenue Amber while Karl finished his martini (a quick note: Avenue Grill makes their martinis in the proper size – none of those gigantic big-gulp candy-booze concoctions – just a sensible, classic gin martini served next to the shaker, with enough for a refill.  And they are good – very, very good. You have been warned) and it was time to settle up and head back out into the heat.  We had more places to be and people to see. As much as I would have preferred lingering, we had to leave much too soon.


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