With its beefy menu, easy-access location, and globally inspired flavors, Simmer is poised to become a new local go-to.

DOWNTOWN IS A FUN DESTINATION for dinner, but sometimes parking and navigating festival crowds feels like more work than reward, and for folks living in northwest Loveland or southwest Fort Collins, there haven’t been many choices for after-work happy hour or date-night destinations. Options, however, are improving with the addition of Simmer.

The eatery, which opened in February 2018, is the brainchild of Steve Lauer, a prolific local restaurateur. Lauer envisioned a relaxed, casual space that “was still nice for a date-night or special event.” Glass garage-style doors open the bar to an outside patio and wraparound bar in warmer months. The vibe is almost island, though the menu isn’t so easily defined. The seating is comfortable—a combination of high-top tables, booths and traditional tables surrounded by rattan chairs.

Lauer, who travels frequently, stores thousands of pictures on his phone of his meals abroad. He collaborates with Logan Kamer, Simmer’s executive chef, Sheridan Moch, general manager, and Christopher Joseph, director of operations to offer a menu that reflects a wide array of flavors and options. But it was Kamer who adapted many of the recipes, and Lauer gave him free rein with developing the menu.

At only 21, Kamer is a bit of wunderkind. However, Lauer—who has run and owned multiple restaurants since he was the same age—quickly realized that Kamer’s instincts with flavors are sophisticated, and he said it was a “no brainer” to bring him on board in a leadership role. The team works together to collaborate on ideas, flavors and seasonal changes to the menu. Lauer really wants to appeal to a wide range of cravings and preferences, and the menu is extensive, with a few items rotating in or out seasonally.

In some instances, a restaurant without a particular flavor focus or idea concept could become a bit of a mess, but Simmer doesn’t just offer something for everyone—it does it and does it well. In line with a vision of creating a gathering spot for work colleagues or a couple’s night out, Simmer offers an array of small-plate options from seafood to vegetables to meat. They are a great size for sharing, and the flavors are surprising and fresh.

The grilled mojito shrimp-and-watermelon skewers have light citrus and peppery mint notes, which pair nicely with the sweetness of the watermelon. Roasted rainbow carrots with parmesan-walnut pesto are beautiful as well as delicious. And the blistered shishito peppers are a popular choice, too, tossed in just a little chili oil for some kick.

For those with saltier, crispier, fattier longings, I highly recommend the house potato chips, thin-sliced and perfectly seasoned, served with a side of gorgonzola fondue for dipping. They are so good, the group I was with ordered more—twice. And the Devils on Horseback take the bacon-wrapped date dish- to a new level with peppadew peppers and Marcona almonds.

While sharables and a special happy hour menu are inviting for colleagues meeting after work or those wanting a quick bite before a movie or show, Simmer also has a nice selection of dinner entrees that reflect the same eclectic, global flavors elsewhere in the menu. There’s a daily seafood special as well as stick-to-your rib options like a 12-ounce ribeye or a bone-in, French-cut pork chop, served with cheddar mashed potatoes and broccolini. The Nashville hot chicken, served with sweet potato waffles, are an especially popular choice, and I tried the Asian fusion salmon when I was there; it was excellent, served with a sweet/hot chili glaze.

Another Simmer surprise is an extensive brunch menu, which offers many of the small-plate favorites and sandwiches as well as breakfast classics like omelets, Benedicts and pancakes. However, it’s worth bringing your spirit of adventure and an appetite so you can experience two items in particular. One is the lamb hash, made with house-made lamb sausage and served with sweet potatoes and veggies. Topped with two eggs any style, the portion is enough for two meals. A close second, the rum-soaked French toast, is an indulgent Sunday morning treat. It’s so boozy, you actually have to be 21 to order it. Blue Chair Bay coconut spiced rum spikes the batter and it’s smothered with (of course) rum sauce.

Simmer has a full bar with both standards and inventive drinks available. I found the Rose Rendezvous, made with Lillet Rose, Snova vodka, grapefruit bitters and Colorado peach puree, to be a lovely combination of flavors and not as sweet as you might imagine. If you prefer tart, the Mile High 75 with Jakelope gin, lemon juice,  lavender bitters and a little prosecco is a refreshing choice. The restaurant offers four seasonal Colorado beers on tap and many more bottled options. There are plenty of wine options as well, either by the glass or the bottle.

Whatever you do, save room for dessert. I’ve ordered something different on each visit, and I haven’t been let down yet. Sometimes, Kamer creates a dessert special and it’s always worth a try. I had an apple/strawberry tart that stopped time, served oven-warm and topped with vanilla ice cream. The flourless chocolate cake is a rich, easily shared option, and if you want a less filling chocolate ending, try the chocolate mousse.

I’ll guarantee that you’ll find something at Simmer for everyone. 2519 S. Shields St., Suite 1F, 970-893-2837, simmerfc.com

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