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Challenging Elements: Magnolia Restaurant


Sometimes the results of our challenge are just so outstanding, I’m positively blown away. So it was with Magnolia Restaurant and Sushi Bar this month. The locale just earned a “Best Restaurant in Denver” nod from Metromix.com—which is doubly impressive, as the restaurant is in Lafayette.

But we have to agree with the Metromix readers: Magnolia’s contemporary, seasonal American steakhouse alongside its ultra-fresh sushi bar make for a top-notch surf-and-turf combination. We wanted to give their chefs a real challenge, something they don’t often cook with at the restaurant, and with a menu as varied as theirs, the challenge started with us. Eventually, we settled on sriracha sauce, a Thai condiment made from hot chiles, sugar and vinegar (sometimes called “rooster sauce” because of the rooster on the label of a popular brand).

Owner Chris Deutschman laughed when I told him the ingredient over the phone, but we were the ones laughing—with glee!—when we saw what his chefs had cooked up for us. Not one, but two chefs participated in this challenge, starting with Samir Aniba on the steakhouse side. He brought out a beautiful plate starring a gorgeous sriracha-honey glazed scallop alongside a delectable avocado mousse displayed in a delicate nautilus of fried nori cup. Next to the scallop was a filet of perfectly seared salmon atop a bed of chive oil-dressed glass noodles and luxuriating in a pool of sriracha butter sauce. The butter sauce was definitely my favorite of the sriracha flavors, but all melded gorgeously with the seafood.

Next came executive sushi chef Craig Amidon’s equally beautiful dishes. The “hot tomato” featured a ball of sriracha-flavored rice studded with tantalizing bites of snow crab and then wrapped in tuna to look very much like a tomato. Clever and delicious. Also part of the banquet was a simple spicy tuna sashimi dish, marinated in sriracha and soy and topped with black and white sesame seeds.

The end results of this bounty were four distinct preparations, each centering around the bold flavors of the sriracha sauce, without ever being overwhelmed by them. A masterful presentation and delicious delivery.

These dishes will be available during the month of March at Magnolia. For reservations and more information, call 303.665.3080 or visit magnolia-restaurant.com.


Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google

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