Ode: Wood Roasted Carrots at Ash’Kara
For a while, it seemed like carrots were everywhere.
They were the next Brussels sprouts — no self-respecting menu was without them, and most takes were pretty terrible.
You’d find carrots glazed, grilled, served in chunks, served with the stalks still on, overcooked and mushy or too crunchy to get a knife through. You’d get overworked, overwrought carrot dishes with way too much going on, losing their essence under piles of spice and sauce. Or you’d pay a small fortune for four precious little heirlooms — orange, yellow, purple — and find yourself cutting them up into tiny bites in order to share them with the table.
But the OG of carrot dishes (and likely the one that started the trend in Denver) could almost have gone unnoticed when Ash’Kara opened, listed way below the rockstar pita and hummus, past the eye-popping dips and additions, nestled and hidden among the enticing entrees like chicken tagine and lamb kofte. If you didn’t know that they were an essential item, you might over-order and miss them entirely.
But when Chef Daniel Asher launched that menu on opening, those familiar with his veggie wizardry knew the carrots would be something to pay attention to.
And they are, still.
Served in fat chunks over a bed of creamy herbed labneh, they’re deep orange with charred edges — sweetly caramelized by an open fire. Pickled red onion slivers bring in the acid, and crushed pistachios mixed with black and white sesame seeds add salt and a tease of crunch to every bite.
The carrots themselves somehow manage to be both crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle while holding their structural integrity even as you cut them with your knife and fork. And when you swish a slice through the labneh — all herbed and spiced and smelling like an Israeli street market — the cool yogurt and warm vegetable meld and play together in your mouth like long-lost lovers.
Through Ash’Kara’s menu iterations and updates over the years, Chef Daniel’s roasted carrots have gone essentially unchanged.
I hope they never mess with ‘em.