Something is happening to Restaurant Kevin Taylor. They have changed their decor from a sophisticated gold and classic oil painting formal elegance to modern orange avec buffalo and elk. Has Kevin spent too much time in the new wing of the Denver Museum of Art? I am suspicious that their exemplary service is slipping as well. At its peak, RKT was my benchmark for service. On my first visit, I was nibbling on the soft insides of the bread like someone plucking out the stuffing on Grandma Mabel’s too tired settee. I had every intention of getting to the crust, really, but without my knowledge, my bread had been whisked away and replaced with de-crusted bread. That is service.
On this night, there was a large party in the upstairs area that was not only noisy but also distracting to the wait staff. The sommelier, as always, was very courteous but he was only one among many. We were a party of six ourselves, and I am finding that once you go beyond the optimal four-person party, service necessarily degrades. There are too many questions, too much conversation, and too much hustle and bustle about the table to feel truly pampered.
RKT has a five, six, or seven course tasting menu or you can order ala carte. My friend and I decided to order one tasting menu ($65), and one separate entrée. We would split the two appetizers and the dessert that came with the tasting menu but eat our own entrée. We started therefore, with a foie gras appetizer, which went very well with the Shiraz and Voinger Rhone-like blend from Australia that one of the table members picked out. Some people ordered the lobster bisque, which was a creamy delight. For our second appetizer we chose the lobster salad. This turned out to be a strange concoction of a single lobster claw on a bed of spicy slaw. It was not nearly as appealing as the bisque and was hard to split. For my entrée, I ordered a bison ribeye with confit, applesauce, and a jalapeno fritter. A la Carte this entrée runs $40. Our second entrée, six ounces of Kobe beef cheek with custard and sauce ($55) was one of those decadent indulgences you need every now and then. Whether it was worth $55 is a reach. Kobe beef is notoriously pricey, I know. If I were a cow, I would want to live in Kobe Japan. Kobe beef comes exclusively from a unique breed of cattle, named Wagyu that is known for its intense marbling (i.e high fat content). Wagyu cattle are fed a diet of sake and beer and massaged daily. A few months of that regiment and I would in such a state of bliss I wouldn’t care what the butcher did to me. Kobe beef is exceptionally tender and flavorful. This particular preparation did show off the meat nicely.
For dessert, we ordered a molten chocolate cake, which is never my favorite but there were few options. RKT stopped offering their chocolate and peanut pyramid, which alas that was my favorite. I did get a taste of the German Chocolate Cake though, which was much more flavorful than our drippy cake.
Now I shall make a quick note about the wine. Alas, I was not ordering the wine, and so I don’t have the names and prices of the bottles we ordered. After reading the wine list however, I did note that RKT has few wines by the glass and fewer bottles below a $70 price point. With all the wine options out there, this seems a bit limiting. I would prefer to see wine novices introduced to the many pleasures of the grape, even with a cheaper selection, than letting them resort to beer for their beverage.
After recent earth shattering experiences at Fruition, L’Atelier in Boulder, and the Capital Grille, I find it hard to recommend RKT. I was also very partial to their previous décor, which was elegant, warm, and inviting. Their current motif is not an improvement in my mind. Judge for yourself though, oil paintings of buffaloes may be just the thing if you are into such things. I will probably give RKT another try simply because they are conveniently located next to the Denver Center. Another experience similar to this one though, and I will wander further afield for my next pre-theater dinner.