For this week, Brunchlust is taking you to the Mile High City--Denver, Colorado. Being more than 5000 miles above sea level kind of sets up the city of Denver to "elevate" their experiences. From outdoor activities to "medicinal" activities, Denver is a fun place to explore and to experience everything in a new light. So when we decided to do the bottomless brunch at Zengo, we expected not your average Asian cuisine and brunch experience. And we were correct--for both the good and the bad.
Zengo is located in the heart of downtown Denver, amidst high rises, undoubtedly stylish apartment housing, and across from an active park. Parking seemed to be a bit hectic in the area but Zengo does provide complimentary valet so take advantage of that on your way. Once you enter the establishment, you're greeted with upscale Asian decor--bamboo meets metal. Sofas, bistro sets, booths, traditional 4-seat tables, and long banquet tables. They have seating for all types of parties. Which was great for us, as we had about 15 people to seat. We called ahead and made sure our reservation was all set about a week in advance.
On to the bottomless brunch. "Bottomless Brunch" is probably one of our most favorite phrases here at Brunchlust. I mean who doesn't think about cocktails flowing for as long as you want, with a smile on their face? For the Bottomless Brunch, you get your choice of brunch cocktails (you can even mix and match!) plus unlimited food. Let me say that again for the seats in the back: BOTTOMLESS DRINKS AND FOOD. Both of them. To say we were excited to experience this was probably an understatement. We didn't eat in the early morning hours to make sure we had enough space in our bellies to take advantage of this.
The cocktail list consisted of bloody marys, traditional mimosas, margaritas, and an assortment of alternative mimosas, with juices such as passionfruit, mango, and wheatgrass. Unfortunately, the passionfruit was not available at the time--so I tried the mango and the wheatgrass mimosas. And to be honest, that wheatgrass mimosa is the one to go with. Sounds disgusting but it was so light and refreshing. Definitely a happy surprise for me. And the servers of the restaurant were very attentive and made sure we never saw the bottom of our glasses.
On to the bottomless food. So on the menu, they give you a list of items to chose from. There's three categories: Chilled Plates, Small Plates, and Brunch Plates. Just off first impression, I imagined that the Chilled and Small plate items were more appetizers and Brunch Plates were the full out spread. If there is nothing else you take away from this review, please take this away: ALL OF THE FOOD PLATES ARE SMALL PLATES. Petite portions is a trend that's had it's highs and it's lows. I guess that does cut down on food waste, and it probable works great for people eating with a small party (4 people at the table) but for our 15 person party, it was a fail. More about that in a bit.
So, thinking I was going to get the feast of a lifetime, I ordered the Chicken Karaage, the Salmon Roll, and the Smoked Pork Belly and Eggs. Korean food is in my top 3 types of foods, so I was highly pleased with all of my choices. On paper. However, when the food was brought out, I think everyone at the table was shocked. Some folks ordered one item, thinking they would be filled up and would nibble on food later on in the day--nope. If I combined all 3 of my items, they would actually fit on a traditional dinner plate. No lie. Aside from the shockingly small food portions, I will say that the Smoked Pork Belly was exceptional. Thick and crispy on the outside, while being tender and flavorful on the inside, I wouldn't hesitate to order several plates of this dish again. The Salmon Roll was just average for me, but the Chicken Karaage was definitely a winner as well.
I would love to have tried more items but with 15 people in our party, the restaurant just simply could not handle all of our orders at one time. Which is strange, since everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be well fed. If you go, please don't go with anymore than 6 people. And if there's something that looks like it might be tasty, just order it. Because after that initial first ordering experience, getting additional food orders in will prove to be a challenge.
Brunchlust Rating: B- The experience of having a large party is what brought our rating down. Which is a shame because the food was wonderful. Will have to try it again, with less people or on a solo mission and see if that changes.
1610 Little Raven St
Denver, CO 80202