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  • Writer's pictureEric Elkins

Ode: The Elk Tartare at Bin 707

Sometimes you have to break the rules.

Whether it’s serving up a dish that shouldn’t work but somehow ends up transcendent — or just writing an ode to said dish — if you own the decision, the outcome can be a win for everyone.

Okay, maybe that’s a little specific.

If you live in Denver and haven’t yet made the drive to Grand Junction to eat at Bin 707 Foodbar, get to it — especially this time of year, because Palisade season is in full swing and I have no doubt the tart and juicy peaches will be making many appearances on the menu.

How do I know that? Because James Beard-nominated Chef Josh Niernberg uses local ingredients in spectacular ways to bring the story of the Western Slope to happy taste buds.

And sometimes that’s by breaking the rules.

Take, for example, one of my favorite dishes on the planet, his elk tartare with puffed tendon. I mean, it sounds like it’s going to be gross and gamey, chewy and challenging. Instead, the result is delightfully approachable, easy on the eyes, and tasty on the tongue. With the raw elk seasoned delicately and chopped into little perfect chunks, formed into a thick disk and served with a couple of seasonal sauces (e.g. preserved plum tapenade, Palisade peach bernaise) each bite is a burst of umami goodness cut through with a tangy and welcome acid pop.

And though you’ll want to pile it onto the fresh bread that comes with the dish, don’t sleep on the puffed elk tendon — a chicharron for the pork-free set — all crispy and light, melting away almost from the moment you top it with a spoonful of tartare and slip it into your mouth.

Fucking sexy.

Josh is a friend — one of the good guys in hospitality, constantly innovating despite his distance from any major city, serving up pure magic to the happy inhabitants on the Western Slope. He’s well-loved in the food scene and inspires many of Denver’s best chefs.

So yeah, I broke my own rule — writing a #Denverlicious ode to a dish you can only enjoy if you’re 196 miles away from the Mile High City. But if you motivate yourself into your car and make the (let’s admit it, gorgeous) long drive out west, you’ll thank me for the transgression.

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