Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 13

The first thing you notice upon entering the Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. is the noise. Thankfully, there’s no waft of stale beer, but neither is there an aroma of hot food. There are friendly faces of the staff offering immediate greetings and an energy proportionate to the noise. Phantom Canyon has a sense of excitement. Just because there are no smells, rest assured the beer and the food are fresh.
For more than 10 years, this popular downtown establishment has been serving its own beer and an impressive selection of pub food. In the last three months the menu has undergone some revamping. Some items have disappeared from the pages and some long-standing favorites, such as the Blonde Ale Battered Fish and Chips, remain. It has always been an ambitious bill of fare offering hearty servings of well-prepared food. That hasn’t changed.
My companion (OK, so she’s my sister) and I wanted a lunch place where I could find a juicy burger with fries, and she could order a salad. Phantom Canyon was perfect. Ironically, however, while these items were on the menu, we both opted for something else. In my case, I was pleased with my choice of the Chicken Cheese Sandwich, while my friend (yeah, I know, she’s my sister) was disappointed in her Garden Croissant.
American cheese is something I tend to avoid, but melted with Provolone atop grilled onions it created a tangy richness to the perfectly grilled pieces of chicken. The bread could have been more interesting, but the chicken, cheese and grilled onions were a perfect trio of flavors for which nothing else was needed. Except, of course, there were very good fries, more like potato wedges.
Our waiter, Sam, was friendly and clearly busy, but appeared at the right time to refill water glasses and check in with us. Just as I realized I needed catsup, Sam materialized to set the bottle down in front of me. I love a server who anticipates. Sure, he could have placed it on the table as soon as we ordered, but that would have been far less impressive.
The Railyard Ale, a golden-hued ale with nicely balanced malt flavor and subtle hops taste, was a nice accompaniment to my sandwich. Phantom Canyon brews its beer on site and has eight to ten different types daily.
My poor colleague (I mean sister) was less than thrilled with her Garden Croissant. I could feel her disappointment. She had bypassed the array of alluring salads including the Wood Roasted Chicken and Hot Bacon Salad, which she said she was thinking of ordering. She chose the croissant, she said because she thought the combination of roasted peppers, avocado and cilantro cream cheese sounded far more intriguing. It did sound good. It was served on a faux croissant, one lacking layers of flakiness and buttery taste. The roasted peppers were delicious, but they fell to one side of the sandwich and nothing of them remained for the second half. And, there was only a vague suggestion of cilantro in the cream cheese. However, the tortellini side salad was a big hit. The pesto was nutty and had just the right consistency of olive oil, so it was not too slick. She would have been happy with a large bowl of the pasta salad.
The nice thing about lunch at Phantom Canyon is that it is possible to get in and out in under an hour. There were lots of suits and a varied clientele, the place has broad appeal which explains the noise level. It may not be the best bet for a romantic lunch, but it’s a good place to go with a friend, colleague or even your sister.
Trent’s Table Talk:
Location: Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., 2 E. Pikes Peak Ave. 633-2800. Open weekdays 11 a.m. for lunch; 9 a.m. Sunday for brunch.
Menu: Salads, soups, sandwiches and pasta. Limited vegetarian options, separate lunch and dinner menu (although there is some overlap). Sunday brunch.
Liquor: It’s a brew pub! Yes, there is also a full-service bar.
Service: Attentive and friendly.
Cost: $4 to $10
Go again? Yes.


Anonymous Submission Reviewer said...

Good detail on restarant atmosphere, location, and pricing. Adequate food detail. Far too much attention paid to being related to his companion, and far too much attention paid to her distaste for her selection without explaing why. Writing is wandering and inconcise.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Warren Epstein said...

FYI. "submission reviewer" is not associated with the Gazette.

10:27 AM  

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