Palettes Restaurant’s Homage to Georgia O’Keeffe

by Grace Boyle on March 18, 2013

Palettes, the restaurant from Kevin Taylor that is adjoined to Denver Art Museum at 100 W 14th Avenue has a new Southwest-inspired tasting menu, alongside the new Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land exhibit.

The exhibit that has been open since February, runs until April 28th.

We recently walked around the exhibit, exploring O’Keeffe’s love for New Mexico and then sauntered over to Palettes to continue our Southwest experience, from sight to taste.

DAM

The exhibit is small and seeks to uncover a somewhat unknown aspect of her art (e.g. none of her infamous flowers will be found here) that was inspired by the culture and landscape of New Mexico. Taos is one of my favorite destinations so I felt I was transported there through the exhibit.

There are 53 pieces of her work during this time and the DAM exhibit also highlights American Indian artwork and katsina tithu figurines so evoke an intimate look at what O’Keeffe was inspired by and surrounded by with her time and years in New Mexico. This makes for an interesting historical view of her work and others so there’s a wide spectrum of the era and culture.

hero-OKeeffe

{Photo Via Denver Art Museum}

After perusing the exhibit – we spent about 40 minutes walking through and we were able to see everything – we walked over to Palettes, a beautiful first-floor restaurant, surrounded by wall to ceiling glass windows, featuring original artwork and crisp, white tablecloths cover all the tables.

Palettes

From Chef Kevin Taylor, Palettes was one of the country’s first chef-driven museum restaurant when it opened in 1997. Taylor describes this special menu in memorial of O’Keeffe as incorporating “spices like cumin and chili pepper along with staple Southwestern ingredients such as pickled red onions, blue corn tortillas and cilantro,” and they’re all “plated with a nod to O’Keeffe’s modern aesthetic that features bold use of imagery and color.”

We opted for the three course pre-fixe which is $27 so we could really dive in. You can also purchase these dishes off the special menu ala carte. They also have special margaritas on the menu that we sipped on while choosing what to order.

Margartias at Palettes

We started with the Black Bean Soup with yellow tomato pico de gallo and cumin crema and the Mayan Chicken Toastadas with queso fresco, cilantro cabbage and pickled red onions. The soup was incredibly creamy and we expected a straightforward black bean soup, but the silky cream made for a really powerful flavor.

Black Bean Soup

Mayan Taco

For entree’s we had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with tobacco onion rings, anasazi beans and cascabel peanut sauce and the Pecan Crusted Tilapia with stir fried chilies, cilantro butter and goat cheese cream. The fried chicken dish was very smoky and the colors felt very Southwestern. The presentation was really well thought-out and beautiful. The tilapia was a bit too heavy for our liking at lunch with the creamy goat cheese and butter cream, but the fish was cooked nicely.

Fried chicken

Tilapia

At this point we were getting full, but the desserts looked amazing. We opted for the Blondie with macadamia creme anglaise and salted milk chocolate ice cream and the Bittersweet Ancho Chili Chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse and passion fruit syrup. I wished my chocolate cake had more of a chili bite to it, I didn’t catch that flavor at all, but the presentation was breathtaking.

Blondie

Chocolate

I thought the menu was a great homage to Southwestern cuisine and there seems to be enough variety for everyone, so it’s a great touch to go with the special crafted menu. To enjoy a three-course dinner for $27 is also a great deal.

This is the perfect weekend activity whether it be with your family, your favorite art buff or a date by combining beautiful historical art and food that’s paired with it.

You can learn more about the exhibit and tickets here and visit Palette’s website to learn more about their special Southwestern menu. The exhibit runs until April 28th.

Thanks to Palettes and Denver Art Museum for hosting us.

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