Sly fox spirit alive and well in Palisade bistro Inari’s

QUICKREAD

WHAT: Inari’s.

WHERE: 336 Main St., Palisade.

WHEN: Dinner, 5–9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; brunch, Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CONTACT: 464-4911.

COST: Entrees under $15; children’s menu, under $6.



Inari, in both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, is a fox spirit, a messenger between the earth and heaven.

It is said in Japan to be the deity for rice and patron of prosperity for farmers and merchants.

The deity for rice in Japan, where people eat about 130 pounds of rice a year, must be a very important god to have on your side. (China is No. 1 in rice consumption, followed by India and Indonesia. Slacker Americans come in at No. 12.)

So, what a surprise to find the sly little spirit in downtown Palisade.

The bistro awning and bright red doors attract a curious passer-by. I’ve wandered past several times when Inari’s was closed, peered in the windows and perused the menu.

This past Wednesday, I invited a friend, who was equally curious, to check it out.

It turns out, Wednesday is date night with a prix fixe menu: three courses for two people for $35. The little fox spirit must have guided me there.

Being honest souls, we confessed that we weren’t actually a couple. The server just laughed and said there were no rules for couples service. We could have been a couple of llamas. You can even be a single. If you’re dining alone, it’s $17.50 for the three-course dinner.

The courses consist of soup or salad, entr&233;e and dessert. If you plan to sip, that’s extra. The wine menu isn’t huge, but includes a nicely rounded grouping, from French Alsase to Argentinian malbec to Spanish Codorniu Brut. Glasses are all under $10, including the very smooth Gekkaikan sake.

Inari’s is an eclectic bistro that plays upon the seasonal harvest, but October’s entr&233;e menu had a distinct pan-Asian influence.

Because the menu changes, the tastes might be entirely different a month from now.

Trust the chefs.

I was dying to try some of the appetizers — I sometimes skip dinner and eat solely from the appetizer menu — but the prix fixe included soup or salad.

Nothing special to mention in the salad department: Standard appetite tease, a romaine with Caesar dressing. The soup, however, was a delicious shrimp bisque.

At the suggestion of our server, we tried the tonkatsu and curry. Well, I deviated slightly to the Indian red curry instead of the Thai green curry.

We could have ordered in the Mexican realm. Other entrees included ancho-rubbed steak, poblano chile rellenos and fish tacos.

My dining companion loved everything about the tonkatsu, a rice bowl with crispy sliced pork cutlet, shitake mushrooms and tender baby green beans.

What did I love about the Indian curry? Well, everything.

The base of the dish was curry-spiced cauliflower, peppers, green beans and chickpeas on rice. The spices were mild, not scorching hot, like you find in the curry shops of London. I added skewers of lamb, which were wonderfully tender.

On top of that were garnishes, peach mango chutney, cilantro mint chutney and onion relish. Each was very tasty, but might have been served on the side, so as not to compete.

Two thumbs up on the desserts. We skipped the double chocolate concoction and ordered the peach cobbler and an apple tart, both made with Palisade fruit. That, and a glass of port (Australian, not listed on wine menu), were the perfect end to an evening.

From start to finish, everything was top-notch, especially our server. She was knowledgeable and confident, anticipating our needs without hovering.

I plan to go back to Inari’s, dragging the wallet-toting half of my couple with me, to see what the creative chefs put on next season’s menu, especially if I can get the amazing-looking carpaccio that is pictured on the restaurant’s website. Click on the red doors to enter, http://www.inarisbistro.com.

A three-course dinner for two for $35, you can’t beat that with a stick.

Here are some online comment about Inari’s: “We really enjoy the variety of tastes in this great little treasure of a bistro hidden in Palisade, CO. All very reasonable priced. AAA +++” “The food is fresh & menu refreshing. I don’t think word has gotten out yet.”

QUOTE: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” — “The Godfather”

Send tips and ideas to tess.furey@ gjsentinel.com.


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