Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The French Press (Lakewood, CO)
My wife and I had to fly to Denver for business (well, business for her, pleasure for me), and we were in dire need of sustenance after the long flight. I had scoped out The French Press before we left as a possible lunch spot. Little did I know that I'd find some blog-worthy barbecue there as well.
As you might have already guessed, The French Press is mostly a coffee shop, but it's also a decent little cafe with breakfast, brunch, and lunch options. I was still rolling on "Texas time," so eggs and crepes weren't really on my radar. Luckily there were plenty of sandwiches and paninis to choose from. Their wall-mounted chalkboard menus also suggest a rotating selection of food. The cafe itself was fairly small, but had a very welcoming quaintness to it. It felt much less granola than I was expecting for Colorado.
There were several sandwiches that caught my eye, but the barbecue lover in me refused to pass up their Pulled Pork Sandwich: pulled pork carnitas, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce on a brioche bun. The menu description suggested that the sandwich came topped with coleslaw, but I got confused when the server offered coleslaw as a potential side dish selection as well. None of the other side options (chips, french fries) seemed to match the barbecue sandwich, so I ordered coleslaw against my better judgment. I don't particularly care for coleslaw, but I figured at least I could top my sandwich with it for some extra crunch.
When my order came out, I immediately realized my mistake. As I feared, the sandwich did in fact come topped with coleslaw, making my side dish selection extra useless. I tried the slaw anyway just for the sake of completeness. There wasn't just too much flavor, and it definitely could have used more dressing. I should have ordered french fries. Oh well, live and learn.
I moved on to the Pulled Pork Sandwich, where the coleslaw was sure to at least add some texture if nothing else. My meat seemed more chopped than pulled. The pork was much sweeter than I expected, perhaps from the added barbecue sauce. Although, there was only a light drizzling of sauce, which I much prefer to having sauce run down my hands. The pork was fairly tender, but it didn't have just a ton of flavor on its own, making the sauce an absolute necessity. It's unfortunate that the sauce didn't have a little heat to it though, since that would have balanced out the sweetness really well. I couldn't pinpoint any smoke, but sometimes that's just an unfortunate result of serving barbecue in sandwich form. On the other hand, "carnitas" are usually braised or roasted, so perhaps there was just no smoke to be had. The coleslaw added no flavor (not that I expected it to), but I did enjoy the added crunchiness. I also thoroughly enjoyed the brioche bun, which gave the sandwich a much more homemade quality than the typical Mrs. Baird's buns I often find in my barbecue travels.
Overall, my sandwich was a tasty and satisfying lunch. I think it works better in the general sandwich category than as barbecue, but it was a decent attempt nonetheless. The French Press was definitely a good choice for a lunch outing, you just have to go in with realistic expectations, especially if you're craving smoked meat.
The French Press
85 S. Union Blvd.
Lakewood, CO 80228