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The Palm - Denver
The Westin Hotel at Tabor Center
1672 Lawrence Street
Denver, Colorado 80202
Date of Visit: 11 July 2006
OVERALL EXPERIENCE (5 is Best)
The Palm restaurant has been a dining institution in New York since 1926. The mid-1970s saw the beginning of their expansion, which now includes some 30 restaurants nationwide. This year, 2006, celebrates their 80th anniversary. I have seen their restaurants is many of the cities I visit, but until recently, have not had the opportunity to visit one. That changed in July.
While on a business trip to Denver, Colorado, and staying at the Westin Tabor Center, I noticed that there was a Palm steakhouse located downstairs in the hotel. So with the prospect of only having to take the elevator to dinner, I made reservations for July 11, 2006.
Upon arrival, I was seated immediately at a small table near a large window, overlooking the restaurants outside seating area and nearby sidewalk. One of the first things you will notice when visiting The Palm is its decisive old world style. It's crowded and noisy. But I believe that enhances the ambiance. Throw in an experienced, white coat-clad professional waiter and hand-drawn celebrity caricatures adorning the walls, and the feeling is complete. [See the restaurant's web site for the complete history of the caricatures.]
Ok, lets get down to the Dead Cow. The Palm's menu is not huge, and that is good. They do several things and they do them well. Being a typical steak house, salads and sides tend to be rather large. Fortunately, they offer both in half-size portions (with a corresponding half-price), which are perfect for the solo diner. I decided to forgo an appetizer, and opted for one of their speciality salads called the "Monday Night" ($4.00). The salad was served with a side of crumbled blue cheese. In the early days of the Palm, the chef used to take whatever salad components were left over from the weekend and grind them up to use on Monday, hence the name. Sticking to my favorite cut of Dead Cow, I ordered the 12-ounce New York strip ($33.50), cooked medium. Keeping the steak company, I asked for a half order of sautéed mushroom caps ($3.25) and a half order of what is called "Half & Half" ($3.75), which is half deep fried thin sliced onion rings and half homemade thick cut potato chips. The restaurant's by-the-glass wine offerings could use some improvement, as their selections were limited. I ordered a glass of 2001 Ray's Station cabernet blend ($11.50). This wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. I later switched to the 2001 Kendall-Jackson cabernet ($16.25). A frozen lemon sorbet ($6.50), served in a hallowed-out lemon, completed the meal.
The Monday Night salad was interesting but did not have a lot of flavor, even with the addition of the excellent crumbled blue cheese. Almost mushy, it certainly was unique but I doubt I would order it again on a future Palm visit.
The USDA prime 12-ounce New York strip was excellent. This size is the perfect amount of Dead Cow if ordered with a salad or appetizer and a side or two. The steak was flavorful and nicely prepared. The accompanying mushroom caps were sauteed in butter, olive oil, and wine, and were a perfect companion.
By this point in the meal, I was very comfortable. And Ali, the waiter par excellence, arrived with the desert tray. As tempting as the immense slices of pies and cakes looked, I knew I could not finish them. So the ever-thinking Ali suggested a light frozen lemon sorbet. He's very convincing and I took him up on his suggestion. The sorbet was, indeed, both frozen and lemon! It was served in a hollow frozen lemon, which took me a few minutes of pounding with my spoon to figure out. But when I discovered that the plan was to eat what was inside the lemon, and not the lemon itself, life was much less demanding.
After dinner and desert, I retired to the bar for a night cap. The very knowledgeable bartender suggested a Balvenie scotch ($13.50) when I asked him for a single malt recommendation. This is an excellent scotch, and is aged for 12 years in two woods. I highly recommend it.
The restaurant has a "frequent diners" program called the 837 Club. It cost $25.00 to join, but you receive a $25.00 gift check when your permanent membership card arrives in th email about two weeks after submitting your application. Diners earn one point for every dollar they spend in the restaurant or bar. You can redeem accumulated points for give checks or merchandise. If you plan on visiting a Palm location often, this might be a worthwhile inventment for you.
The Palm was a lot of fun. Good service, a lively, entertaining environment, and good food all combine to make the Denver Palm a great place to visit. I will certainly be back there on my next trip to Denver. And should you find yourself near the restaurant, by all means stop in and at least have a look around. I'm sure Ali can get you to a nice table.
ALL RATINGS FOR THE PALM, DENVER, CO