Places to Eat Review: Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market in Fort Collins gets four stars |

Places to Eat Review: Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market in Fort Collins gets four stars

For Windsor Now

Walking into the entrance of the new Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Fort Collins, I felt like I was being transported to a glamorous new world. Northern Colorado may have its share of nice restaurants, bars and hotels, but the Elizabeth is in a league of its own.

Beyond the beautiful foyer and reception desk, there are two fantastic looking bars, both worth visiting. The Sunset Lounge on the top floor is the place to be for incredible city views at sunset while the Magic Rat Music lounge is perfect for a relaxed drink while enjoying live music.

But it's the elegant yet hip-looking Kitchen and Wine Market, complete with bakery, deli and gelateria that had my husband, Mike, and I swooning the other night. I think we said "oh my God, this is so good" at least a dozen times throughout the meal.

The French-inspired menu features house made charcuterie platters, almost exclusively locally sourced menu items, and a large variety of wines to buy or pop open on the spot.

Since we were there in time for happy hour, I decided to try the $5 House Malbec, which was quite good. Mike opted for a regular-priced house cocktail called The Gunsmoke ($10), comprised of Maker's mark bourbon, nuance cacao infused flora sweet vermouth, nardini amaro, house bitters, smoke and one giant square ice cube in the middle of it.

The cocktail menu is full of interesting concoctions such as this.

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It's the food, however, that really stood out. As we like to maximize our ability to try as many things as possible without rolling out the door, we decided to split four different items, which included soup, mussels and fries, an entrée and dessert.

Our path to gastronomic heaven began with the Beer and Onion Soup Gratin ($8), made with a local ale, beef broth, gruyere cheese and baguette pieces. It was absolutely one of the best renditions of French Onion soup I've ever had. What made it stand out I think were the incredibly sweet onions used and how they balanced so well with the tangy melted gruyere and soft bread soaking it all up.

I'm not usually a huge fan of mussels, but I could have eaten another large bowl of the Dijonnaise Moules Frites ($13). he sauce is the star in this one – a light Dijon mustard, cream and tarragon concoction that was truly good enough to drink.

Things just kept getting better as our entrée arrived next. The Bison Bourguignon ($22) was simply melt-in-your-mouth outstanding. A braised Colorado bison shank, flavored with red wine, Applewood-smoked bacon and mushrooms was so tender, it nearly fell off the fork with each bite. The flavoring was spot on. Baby carrots and celeriac purée served as perfect compliments.

Of course we had high hopes for dessert and were not disappointed. The Apple Tarte Tartin for two ($10) was everything a good French dessert should be. It came beautifully presented as a tightly wound disc of shiny, soft apple pieces with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle.

Flavors of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg permeated each bite along with the soft apple, melted vanilla ice cream and buttery crust.

Just to make sure we were getting the full experience, we paired our incredible dessert with a Café Bowerbird ($7) coffee – bacardi 8 year rum, amaro, turbinado sugar and chantilly cream. The perfect ending to the perfect meal. — Shannon Teslow is a Windsor resident and has been a published food critic in Windsor and Fort Collins for more than 15 years.

The Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market (The Elizabeth Hotel)

ADDRESS: 378 Walnut St., Fort Collins

TELEPHONE: (970) 493-0024

HOURS: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

RATING (out of four stars): Four stars