Chef Adam Vero joined Hearth & Dram in Denver as executive chef last year and recruited Jeff Hickman as his chef de cuisine. Both previously worked for TAG Restaurant Group, also located in Denver. The duo has created inventive new menus at Hearth & Dram and reimagined the “Whole Beast Feast,” a group dining event for 10-12 participants that is designed to showcase the eatery’s nose-to-tail philosophy. Five to seven courses are prepared on a sevenfoot, wood-fired grill and served family style to highlight the team’s culinary abilities and no-waste philosophy. The Beast Feast menus are centered around a particular animal (pig, duck, goat, lamb, beef and sea) and designed with specific flavor profiles in mind to enhance the proteins, such as Italian, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. The team also can combine feasts, like surf and turf, and often work with groups to pair wines or whiskies with a meal.
Lots of folks claim to be adventurous eaters, but are the epicureans in your group ready for … toasted grasshoppers? If they are, send them to Cultura Comidas y Bebida, a year-old Carmel restaurant specializing in light, inventive and almost-too-pretty-to-eat traditional Mexican dishes tweaked to appeal to a California palate. Chapulines, a common bar snack in Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca, from where they’re imported, are salty/spicy/crunchy and taste a lot better than they sound.