Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dine & Dish: Aria








The dining options of Cherry Creek have expanded once more with the arrival of Aria, the recently opened sister restaurant to Opus.

We made an evening of it and ordered the Chef’s tasting menu with wine pairing. The tasting menu featured 5 courses and began with a seared sea scallop and carrot risotto. The scallop was perfectly cooked and the light risotto was encircled by vibrantly colored sauces. This dish was a promising start to our meal.

The second course came in the form of a ricotta salad with basil and spring strawberries. The smoothness of the ricotta with the basil and berries made for a light and summery dish. The salad course was one of my favorites of the evening.

The next course was a medium rare tuna served with a shallot cake and pineapple kim chi. I quite enjoyed the texture of the shallot cake but it had a bit too much heat for my liking so I passed on a second bite.

My other favorite dish emerged as the fourth course - the Dr. Pepper bison short rib with vanilla parsnip. My first bite was of the vanilla bean parsnip alone and the flavor profile was initially lost on me. That is, until I took another bite – probably as the chef intended – with the vanilla parsnip and short rib combined on the fork. This bite resulted in a mouthful of blissful flavor.

With already filled bellies, our meal concluded with a chocolate spring roll served with ice cream and accompanied by a glass of port. I especially enjoyed the crunch of the roll with the warm chocolate inside.

Having enjoyed the tasting menu with the wine pairing, Aria’s sommelier deserves notable mention as he made our dining experience. What I so appreciated about his wine conversation was that he maintained a balance of educational and approachable all at the same time.

Overall, the highlight of Aria is the food – as it should be – but being one who also thoroughly loves the atmosphere of a restaurant – I’ll also say that the size and layout of the main dining room doesn’t lend itself to the quaint, neighborhood feel I so enjoy. Even so, my final word on Aria is ... the menu hits several high notes on the flavor scale.

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Aria

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