Former head chef of the Blackhawk Golf Club, Andrew Fung, opened Nineteen along with the club’s majority owner, Al Prokop. The name is a throwback to their beginnings — golf-course lounges are often referred to as the “19th hole.”
Located on Rabbit Hill Road, the restaurant is in an airy, open space at the end of a strip mall. It may not be smack dab in the middle of downtown, but it’s well worth the trip. Buttery leather couches and the adjacent lounge suggest you’re in a spot that isn’t too stuffy, but the creations from Fung’s kitchen are pushing the culinary envelope in the city.
For openers, Fung takes a Latin American classic, ceviche, and turns it on its ear with Asian influences. Sliced ahi tuna and sweet scallops are served in ponzu sauce and a wonderful wasabi pea foam, which is really more like a cream. The heat from the wasabi, the saltiness of the crackers and the sweetness of the fish create a decadent and perfectly balanced appetizer.
For mains, Alberta pork is served in multiple ways on one dish: a braised pork belly, alongside two tenderloin medallions and a ring of crisp pancetta. Or, for something a little less fatty, Atlantic salmon is drizzled with a sweet ginger sauce and miso above a bed of arugula. And though, even in the dining room, you can see sports on the big screens in the lounge, you never lose the feeling you are having a special experience.
Worth the drive to the south side? Absolutely. (5940 Mullen Way NW, 780-395-1119, dinenineteen.com)