Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Inn at Cherry Creek's Weber ~ "easygoing, with solid fare."

By TUCKER SHAW | The Denver Post

There is a certain style of restaurant, one that is neither innovative nor trendy nor inherently unique, but is instead easygoing, comfortable and contained. One that relaxes appetites, bones and, particularly in a time when money feels especially precious, wallets.

They are quiet restaurants, intimate and gracious and unassuming. They don’t pretend to break ground with food or vision and they don’t overindulge with pointed and manners-inspiring service. Instead, they exercise the simple trade of gently prepared food, gently served.

The Weber, located just a block or two from the belly of the Cherry Creek North beast, is such a restaurant. Located on the ground floor of the equally intimate and unassuming Inn at Cherry Creek, the restaurant’s presence on the street — and in the consciousness of the spastic social scene that surrounds it — is minimal.

Which makes the place all the more accessible to the rest of us.

Two matchbox rooms — a dining den and a bar — constitute the entire footprint of The Weber. The skeleton staff (rarely more than two servers on the floor) has only a few customers to attend to. Which they do, with subtlety and speed and geniality, and not gregariousness. Drinks of all varieties, from ably mixed cocktails to fairly priced wines, hit the table quickly.

As does, soon thereafter, food.

The Weber’s menu reveals a well- tested, if old-fashioned, point of view: simple fare through an uptown lens. Lamb shank braised in red wine and rosemary atop a polenta pillow. Flatiron steak and mashed potatoes under a slather of balsamic-kissed butter. A bistro salad of butter lettuce, fried pecans and shallot dressing.

Each of these dishes was clearly executed and, if not artistic in presentation or eye-opening in flavor manipulation, each was relevant and worthwhile, particularly that beautifully seasoned mash of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Countrified in outlook, but urbane in execution, the roasted chicken breast — with a hash of mushrooms and goat cheese and a soft corn puree — was a dreamy winter feast.

Less successful: gummy scallops over equally gummy risotto and far-too-salty beef tenderloin with a blue cheese crust. And the plate of sweet potato fries, splattered with ribbons of blue cheese goop, belongs in a different restaurant entirely, one with clowns twisting balloons into animals, perhaps.

Scrub your memory of the fries with the most well-executed dish on the menu: wild mushroom ravioli, draped in a rich but lively walnut and basil pesto and spiked with earthy fried leeks. The Weber could, and should, have more vegetarian options like this.

There are occasions when the Weber gives itself a culinary workout, as with special multicourse menus geared to holidays like Thanksgiving, for instance, or the annual arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau.

These exercises are fetching and earnest. If they’re not exquisite enough to spend saved-up money on, they’re pleasant diversions for those who can afford to indulge a harmless folly.

At breakfast and lunch (this is a hotel, after all, which requires three meals of service), the Weber feels more matter-of-fact — business deals get done, lunching ladies get caught up, Benedicts and burgers are proffered, schedules are kept.

Bottom line: The Weber, with competent cooking, affable service and a relaxed outlook, doesn’t make enough noise or push enough buttons or reach a lofty enough level of excellence to place it among Denver’s most “important” restaurants.

But of a Tuesday or Saturday night, when the day or week has depleted one’s physical and mental resources and the frenzy at the hedge row appalls one’s better senses, the Weber is a soothing salve.

The Weber

American. Located within The Inn at Cherry Creek, 233 Clayton St.

** 1/2 Rating | Very Good/Great

Atmosphere: Tiny, comfortable, un-ostentatious room.

Service: Competent and friendly.

Wine: A small list of mostly affordable wines.

Plates: Appetizers, $6-12. Main courses $18-26.

Hours: Three meals, seven days.

Details: Reservations accepted but rarely needed. Street parking. Wheelchair accessible. Happy hour specials.