Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Know What You Are Going to Ask

So I’ll do it first. Are these people crazy? You drove one hundred miles round trip from Cortez to Durango for lunch?

Well, yes. Does it make it any better when I tell you that we also took the opportunity to run into the Durango Office Depot for a new computer mouse? And that we bopped into a local music stores for a couple of Springsteen CD’s? And after lunch took a drive to Serious Texas BBQ to stock up on some pulled pork and sauce for the freezer?

We spent ten days or two weeks (I forget exactly how long.) in Durango in early June 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed the two lunches we had at Ken & Sue’s. So much that Durango’s proximity—sort of—to Cortez made a road trip almost mandatory.

“Home to more restaurants per-capita than San Francisco, Durango is known for its world-class dining options for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. From fresh Asian fusion and Sushi to creative chef inspired American cuisine and award-winning craft beers, Durango has something for everyone” (

“Along the Old West-inspired Main Street in downtown Durango, Ken and Sue Fusco fused two menus from previously owned locations to form this larger version of their eponymous restaurant. Opened in 2003, the tavern-like space is bright with natural light, and has large booths for seating, as well as a 100-seat patio in the rear of the restaurant. The menu consists of American cuisine with Asian touches…” (

“Known for its eclectic, globally influenced cuisine…Ken & Sue's is one of the better ‘date’ spots in Durango. It's elegant but without pretension, and attributes include an extremely friendly staff, a terrific wine list, and a long menu of dinner and lunch items (plus daily-changing specials… (

It was a beautiful mid-September day with temperatures in the 70’s and virtually no humidity. And so we joined about ninety percent of the diners on the back outdoor patio where we were fortunate to get a seat in the shade. I do seem to remember a profusion of flowers blooming in early June, but at this time of the year the arbors were decorated with baskets of hanging plants.

As soon as we were seated, we were presented with a basket of house-made breads. A particular hit was the flatbread topped with salt and black sesame seeds about which Chuck raved.

One of the first things we noticed was that two of our favorites from our previous visit—the penne pasta with andouille sausage, escarole, fresh tomatoes, pine nuts, and roasted garlic (Chuck’s meal) and the house-made potato gnocchi with asparagus, cremini mushrooms, truffle oil, and gorgonzola (my meal)—were no longer on the menu. But this proved to be no problem because the list of appetizers was long, intriguing, and heavily weighted toward Asian-influenced options.

We started by sharing an order of crispy calamari with Asian slaw in a lemon-grass and coconut vinaigrette. The Asian cabbage was tossed with some red bell pepper, scallion, and black and white sesame seeds. What I find so amazing is that, even when tossed with a slightly creamy dressing, the coating on the calamari remained crisp to the end and the flavors of lemon-grass and coconut were delicate enough so as to not be overwhelming.

The menu did list a seared rare tuna appetizer—which was tempting—but what really captured my attention was the appetizer of Prince Edward Island mussels in a green curry broth that also contained some wilted mixed greens. It has been a while since I have had mussels so this proved to be irresistible.

The dish contained a dozen medium-sized mussels swimming in a broth that was both sweet (more than likely from coconut milk, but perhaps from the green curry itself) and mildly spicy.
(“Green curries tend to be as hot as red curries…. However, green curries, regardless of heat, have a definite and desired sweetness that is not usually associated with red curries” [].) The broth was so delicious that I spooned up every drop that I could. Too bad we didn’t leave any of the bread or else I would have wiped the bowl clean.

While I was savoring my mussels, Chuck was rapidly devouring the appetizer of pot stickers glazed with hoisin sauce and accompanied by an orange and honey dipping sauce. I did sample half of one pot sticker and can tell you that the wrappers were light and thin and the meat filling was redolent of ginger and garlic.

Before placing our order, I asked our server about the day’s desserts. When none of them was enticing, we elected to share a fourth appetizer—the spicy shrimp spring rolls with a sriracha and soy dipping sauce. The wrappers used here were wonderfully thin and when fried, became layers of crispy goodness. And each spring roll half contained a whole succulent shrimp surrounded by fresh shredded vegetables.

Now, having seen the photos, which my words can barely adequately describe, do you still think we’re crazy? I’ll drive fifty miles (each way) any day for 5.0 Addie food like Ken & Sue’s.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

No comments: