Almost fine dining 

When entrées top $30, I grade at the highest level of criticism, deeming it fair to expect near-if-not-flawless food. Keep that in mind as we detail what's keeping Folie à Deux, formerly B&E Filling Station, from fully achieving fine dining's standards.

The French phrase, long-since utilized by a popular Napa Valley winery, is commonly translated as "a madness shared by two." But the primary madness I found in this 69-year-old, three-room building came through quantifying our bill with our experience, rather than the observance of any mad culinary wizardry.

Trevor and Shrese Rudd, a pleasant couple who command the kitchen and floor respectively, bought the spot in February 2010, recently changing the name on its first anniversary. They scrapped all but the most popular B&E items, instituting a two-season menu that changes in late spring and early fall. Commendably, Trevor sources locally when possible: Brighton elk; Colorado or nearby, but never New Zealand, lamb; bread and pastries from Denver's Aspen Baking Co.; Serranos coffee; and frozen sweets from Monument's Pikes Peak Ice Cream & Gelato.

My central grievance is that though the quality products are there, the finest execution is not. In other words: too much OK-ness and not enough superiority for the price. The evidence in two visits:

The complimentary focaccia tasted dry and day-old, served with an herb butter in need of finer chopping on the cheek-poking rosemary needles. A butternut squash soup du jour ($4) tasted only of cream and gourd sans spice or depth. The bird on my quail salad ($12) needed some seasoning or sauce, served very rare with mostly just a grill flavor to mix with the otherwise decent spinach and goat cheese tossed with raspberry vinaigrette.

The baked Chicken Prosciutto ($19) brought moist meat and quality ham with more spinach and goat cheese and nicely prepared al dente baby carrots, but its Arborio-asiago risotto side was a bit runny and overly salty. The elements somehow just didn't find a finessed cohesion. Risotto also came under the grilled scallops ($23), and as its own main and on a pork Oscar, showing too much repetition for an 11-entrée menu. The grain did get a colorful, puréed red bell pepper treatment under the scallops, which were fine.

Trevor handles meats well, evidenced by spot-on medium rare Kobe "raps" ($15) and a menu-topping $32 elk medallion plate. But the raps' spicy cilantro peanut sauce was tame and accompanying cilantro was in pre-wilt phase. The elk's mashed potatoes had a great texture with chunk and skin blended in, but I could scarcely taste the advertised horseradish component. The red wine reduction also brought an ideal, velvety texture but a touch too much tangy sweetness. A cold plate — a silly and easily remedied mistake — stole heat from everything.

I did enjoy a super meaty (but not so spicy) spicy crab cakes plate ($9) with a simple mayo, tomato paste and Tabasco rémoulade. And the wild strawberry sorbetto, chocolate cappuccino gelato and Madagascar bourbon vanilla ice cream (one scoop of each, $4) were great, as was a marzipan-reminiscent apricot-almond tarte ($6). But they were made elsewhere and Aspen Baking's flourless chocolate torte ($6) tanked, with a commercial flavor and always-dreaded Hershey's garnish.

A place with $30 entrées should make its own chocolate ganache garnish; items shouldn't be misspelled on the menu; the paint on the walls shouldn't look in dire need of a second coat.

That's all attention to detail, the heart of fine dining, which this just isn't yet.


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