Monument's DeVine Grill casts to seafood lovers 


For a teal-carpeted restaurant that essentially looks like a well-appointed living room, just full of tables and a bar instead of pet toys and DVDs, there's some fine seafood to be had at DeVine Grill. It's brought in fresh multiple times a week, says proprietor Stephen Rice, who runs the freezer-less restaurant with the help of a backing investment group intent on owning the local market.

"It was definitely something Monument was missing," says Rice in a phone interview. "The infusion of seafood up and around here, it was nonexistent. I mean, trout is not a seafood. And why we sought out Edo is, we actually looked for a chef that had this kind of knowledge to go with seafood."

"Edo" refers to 23-year-old chef Edo Budijanto, a former Californian about whom Rice can't stop bragging. It's Budijanto's expertise with seafood that has the restaurant ready to unveil dishes featuring Chilean sea bass and orange roughy to go with its current menu of oysters, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, scallops, salmon, lobster bisque and more.

A lot more, actually. It's a big book at DeVine, where two soups, two chicken entrées, two desserts, four pasta dishes, four "meat and potatoes" entrées, seven burgers, nine salads, 10 appetizers and 12 sandwiches join six fish dishes. (Plus, daily specials.) With multiple investors conveying preferences, I'd call this a casualty of too many cooks in the kitchen. Thankfully, one of them is Rice's wife Shani, a chef who admirably turns out the turf while Budijanto's flipping surf.

And who can complain about a behemoth like The Colossal Burger ($15.96)? It's a pound of half-bison, half-beef topped with soft avocado, melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato, biting jalapeños and, just to gild the lily, slices of gyro meat. Hand-formed and sticking an inch over the bun in every direction, the perfectly cooked burger dominated — juicy and full of pepper and garlic.

The teriyaki chicken Philly ($8.69), with its tart, salty notes, needs more vegetables but nothing else. Our salty soups — vegetable, and chicken and noodle — were also insufficiently plant-ed.

Those were prefaced with a lovely little crab dip ($7.69) full of briny, pale-pink threads that played creamy but never heavy. The shrimp puffs ($6.89) tasted almost exactly like the crab dip (plus and minus) while arriving atop two toasted muffins on a garnish-less white plate (minus). A crisp sautéed salmon salad ($9.29) redeemed with a gently seasoned fillet over cucumbers, purple cabbage, carrots and spring greens. (Let's step up the traditional-salad-dressing game, though, everybody.)

We finished that off with a fatty slice of multi-layered, fudge-like chocolate cake ($5.28) topped with slivered almonds, before moving on in the next meal to a plate with potential: cinnamon-crusted scallops ($12.95). Sitting in a line on a pillow of creamy tomato-and-mushroom risotto, the five were sumptuous enough (though I like a harder sear), but the spice never seemed to find any flavor partners or have a place in the whole.

Our ahi ($13.89) was epic, however. More browned than blackened, it almost yearned to be cut into long, glistening flakes of white fish, crisp on the outside with a deceptive heat that lingered. If Monument doesn't want theirs, I'll take it, but according to Rice, they do.

"Oh my goodness, [business has] been a rocket," he says. "It's been phenomenal and we are so excited. It proved the point that there was a niche here in the Tri-Lakes area that wasn't being addressed."


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