The annual CEDIA Expo was recently held out in Denver again. As our company has grown over the years it has become more difficult for all of us to have meals together. My boss loves the collegial atmosphere when we all get together, but even he realizes that it's tough to have 12 to 14 people sit down for a meal and have everyone be happy with the choice. This year, we were pretty much on our own for meals. After a couple days in Denver my colleagues Simon and Ian told me of a place they found for breakfast just a couple blocks down from our hotel, a place simply called Syrup. I ended up eating there three times with a handful of my colleagues during this trip.
Tim Doherty was in the midst of a 27 year career working in bars - 16 of those years he was managing one of the Lodo's Bar and Grill locations in Denver - when he went to Florida to visit family. Having breakfast with his father at a cafe in Vero Beach, it was then and there that he decided that he'd rather get up at 4 a.m. rather than going to bed at the same time.
Along with business partner and fellow Midwestern native Ian McClure, Doherty envisioned running a classic pancake house with waffles topped with whatever the customer wanted, homemade corned beef, big omelets and hearty lunches featuring burgers, sandwiches and salads. They opened the first Syrup location in the Cherry Creek area of Denver in 2010. Two years later, they opened a second location in downtown Denver on the street level of the south tower of the Denver Place complex on 18th St. between Curtis and Champa Streets. (see map)
My first visit to Syrup, four of us walked in moments after they opened the doors at 7 a.m. We were seated at a table with chairs on one side and banquette benches on the other. Our hostess dropped off menus for us and I took a quick look at what they had to offer.
My colleague Simon was telling me of something that he had on Syrup on his first visit - the Remedy. It features a base of cottage fries that is topped with ground chorizo sausage, cheddar cheese, chopped onions, roasted red peppers and two eggs any way you like then finished with a nice dousing of Syrup's housemade green chili. He said, "Oh man! You would go nuts over this!" I normally would, but I'm not too keen on chorizo since a food poisoning incident with chorizo at a Mexican restaurant years ago. But it was certainly a glorious mess (taking that phrase from the Slakingfool).
For my first meal at Syrup, I was really leaning toward the Blueberry Pancakes served with fresh blueberries with the pancakes sauteed in a housemade blackberry syrup. Then you have your choice of different types of syrups - in addition to blackberry, they have a buttermilk syrup, Kahlua cream, strawberry, butterscotch and apricot syrups and a real maple/vanilla syrup. Whoa!
But then I saw the part of the menu that featured their Eggs Benedict. The Cherry Creeker is one of their signature breakfast dishes at Syrup - slow-cooked corned beef hash topped with two poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce. Oooo.... (Thankfully, one of my other colleagues ordered that so I could get a picture.)
Then I found the part of the menu with omelets. The Brooklyn omelet featured corned beef, green onions and Swiss cheese. Then I saw at the bottom of the list that you could build your own omelet starting out at $6.99 then adding on your choice of cheese or veggies for $1 each and anything else from the a la carte part of the menu for $2 bucks. I ordered a corned beef and Monterrey Jack omelet and had it topped with green chili. Oh, man! It was just killer. The corned beef was shredded and had a bit of a spicy bite to it. Coupled with the green chili, this was a winner of a breakfast.
I also got a side of the maple/pepper bacon. Oh my God! Three of my most favorite things in life - maple flavoring, cracked peppercorns and bacon. The melding of the three was just outstanding. When I was young we used to vacation in Canada and we had maple bacon everyday. I've never been able to find maple bacon in the States that is even close to what I remember I had years ago. But this maple bacon - even with the cracked peppercorns - was some of the best I've ever had. I half-jokingly said that I was considering coming back and just getting three or four platters of the maple/pepper bacon the next day.
I did go back the next day with some of my co-workers and I had the blueberry pancakes with the maple/vanilla syrup (see picture above). Of course, I had another plate of bacon. I was sort of disappointed in the blueberry pancakes. I mean, they were fine, but I guess I was expecting something more in terms of a taste sensation. The maple/vanilla syrup was a little underwhelming and the pancakes were a little more fluffy than I like. Still, they were better than most restaurant pancakes that I've had. (I still say my wife makes the best pancakes.)
I went back for a third visit to Syrup on a Saturday morning. We thought that the place wouldn't be all that busy since most of the people we saw at Syrup through the week were business people who worked downtown. But we were surprised to find a good number of people - especially younger people - eating at the restaurant around 7:30 a.m. Service seemed a little slow at times, even when there weren't a lot of people in the place. From the time we ordered our food to the time we were served the first two times I was there it took nearly 25 minutes both times. We were a little worried that the food preparation would take longer with more people dining there that day.
That morning I went with the omelet topped with the green chili again, only this time I had sausage and cheddar cheese inside. I didn't know which one I liked better - both the sausage and cheddar omelet and the corned beef and Monterrey Jack omelet I had earlier were very good. The crowning touch on both, however, was the wonderful green chili they had at Syrup.
One of my colleagues had the breakfast burrito - it was a flour tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, chorizo, cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and topped with the green chili. It was served with a housemade tomatillo green salsa and sour cream on the side. My colleague said it was excellent, but it was also rather large. He made a significant dent in the breakfast burrito before declaring that he was stuffed.
Another one of my colleagues got the breakfast sandwich - a small omelet with chopped red bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, topped with cheddar cheese and served on an English muffin. (You could also get the sandwich on a croissant, a bagel or toast.) And he had a choice of topping the sandwich off with either sliced ham, a sausage patty, or the maple/pepper bacon. He took my lead and got it with the bacon. When the server set the breakfast sandwich in front of him, his eyes got big. "This is huge," he exclaimed. "There's no way I can eat all this!" And he didn't. He got half down before he said he was done.
Other than the long time it seemed to take to get our food to the table after we ordered, I don't have much to complain about with the breakfasts I had at Syrup. The pancakes were a little underwhelming as I had expected much more from them. But the omelets were both outstanding - especially with the green chili ladled over the top. Syrup is one of the better breakfast places I've encountered in my travels.