Altitude Hospitality Group has more dining concepts and brands than we care to shake a stick at, but given the high bar they tend to set, we’re not complaining. Garden of the Gods Market & Café, for instance, has expanded into the former Coquette’s Bistro at 616 S. Tejon St.
Unlike its still-extant sister location on 26th Street, GoG MC (which is not, to our knowledge, founder/owner Mitch Yellen’s rap stage name) will soon have roommates: Till for evening dining, Vine and Wheel for wine, cheese and charcuterie, and Blind Lark as a downstairs speakeasy — check out our November 2020 write-up on csindy.com for more on those. But for this review, we’re focusing on what’s new on the café side — and not, specifically, the grab-and-go market.
In a series of lovely brunches in the breezy, bright dining room, we start with the chicken and biscuit, which features “Nashville-style” hot chicken and house pickles on a buttermilk biscuit, smeared with pimento cheese and served with sausage gravy on the side. Every individual component ranges between good and great, but it’s heavy on heavy before the gravy, and we wish for more pickles to cut that richness.
Similar small issues persist through our visits. Corned beef hash — crisp-jacketed potato chunks, house corned beef, sunny-side-up eggs and bacon-poblano chutney — nails flavors with a mix of ultra-beefy corned beef and smoky-vegetal-sweet chutney, but the texturally excellent potatoes want black pepper (not at tables by default) and more than the one burst of garlickiness we get, which seems accidental.
The Irish Benedict nails poached eggs and excellent corned beef, but the hash browns they’re plated atop (properly seasoned) swallow the hollandaise sauce, and the plate needs more for balance. A massive portion of chilaquiles — we’d split it between two for a full meal or more for, say, a drinks-centric brunch — tops sturdy-but-crisp flour tortilla chips with perfect over-easy eggs, sound black beans and a mild, cumin-forward pork green chile, which we’d love to be less cumin-forward and have more flavor from the chiles. Call it Little Red Riding Hood syndrome: Everything’s off in minor ways that lessen the experience, and when we break $100 for a three plate, three drink, one appetizer brunch, we have high expectations.
One entrée hits the “just right” zone, and that’s the truffle burger. Flavorful beef from a Greeley-area family farm at medium rare bears a crust that adds lovely texture under powerful umami from arugula, mushrooms and blue cheese, each bite delicious. Also, an extant restaurant favorite, the sugar-coated donut holes come with a raspberry coulis that sings, like raspberry flavor plugged into an amplifier, all with a silky-smooth texture.
Most drinks, too, hit just right. Green Goddess juice, chlorophyll green in the glass, supports bright, fresh cucumber flavor with kale notes complementing and just enough apple and honeydew melon sweetness underneath, with ginger warmth finishing. Further, the Mountain Mimosa shows that lavender and grapefruit make for a bright, elegant flavor pairing with Prosecco. Only a candied bacon Old Fashioned, faintly sweet with cayenne heat to finish, falls out of the “just right” zone, as otherwise-brilliant cayenne-spiked candied bacon sogs fast in liquid. Like the rest, it wants only for a little more thought and refinement.