TL/DR: This is a restaurant not to be missed! Make your reservations for this quiet gem with excellent food, great service, and reasonable prices. A very nice surprise in the middle of the revitalized downtown Loveland, Colorado.
It’s not very often that a restaurant gets 5 stars from me. I’m pretty picky when it comes to service and food quality – most of the time, anyway – and nearly every restaurant I eat at is a 3-star, with a few gaining a 4th. It’s very rare to get that 5th star from me, and usually requires something pretty amazing in terms of service, food, or both.
Next Door food & drink in Loveland, Colorado, is one of those rarities, located at 222 E. 4th Street (call 970-541-3020 for reservations or make them online). They have a wide variety of tapas as well as full entrees, desserts, a lunch menu, and happy hour specials. The restaurant is located at 222 E. 4th Street in the Rialto Theatre Center, and they open at 11:30am seven days a week. Reservations are recommended – and get them early, folks – they fill up fast.
My family and I – all six of us – made a reservation for 430pm on Sunday, and when we arrived on time we were seated immediately, with no waiting. A kids menu for my niece was already waiting for us (nice touch!) and the booth was very comfortable, even with six people.
I’d like to talk for a moment about our server, Mike. In my experience, there are two main types of servers – those whom you hardly ever see, and those who hang over you, smothering you to death. Only very, very rarely do you get the server that is shows up like magic when you need them, and disappears when you don’t – aka the “great” server. Mike falls into this category. Not only was he friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, my drink was never empty, and he went above and beyond to provide us with great service (more on this later).
As you can see from the menu, there are quite a few (20!) options for tapas fans – in fact, the breadth of choice was just this side of overwhelming. Too many choices on a menu can be problematic for a restaurant, and though I think Next Door could slim down by a couple options, I was able to find something I liked easily. I chose the burrata cheese and smoked salmon tapas, but also tasted the bacon-wrapped Medjool dates and grilled leg of lamb, both of which were delicious. My family enjoyed their fried calamari and the truffled parmesan potato medley, as well.
Next Door’s portion sizes were great for health-conscious eaters. Where they really shine, though, is in their gluten-free options. 14 of the 20 tapas had gluten-free prep available, as well as all of the salads and all but 2 of the entrees. One of my family members is allergic, so this was a huge win for us. I took advantage of the caesar salad and Red Bird Farms basil grilled chicken, while the others had margherita and mushroom pizzas and the Catalan seafood stew.
The pinnacle of the excellent service came with the delivery of the stew. Unfortunately, there was a mixup in the kitchen, and though the stew was ordered gluten-free for my family member with an allergy, it came out with a breadstick included – clearly not edible in this case. Steve, the excellent manager, immediately realized the problem and apologized, sending the food back and getting it remade. He went the extra mile, having it remade completely, because the potatoes that formed the base might have been cross-contaminated.
That level of above-and-beyond is pretty rare, even for restaurants that take allergies very seriously. Mike and Steve were very apologetic, making sure we were happy with the food for everyone. For my part, the quinoa risotto on my basil grilled chicken was the absolute best risotto I’ve ever had. Just absolutely fantastic. The basil on the chicken was done very well, and the chicken was moist and tender.
For many people, dessert is one of the best parts of the meal. I know that it’s a favorite of mine, anyway. Next Door’s dessert menu was pretty varied, with good options. I chose the blackberry & peach cobbler with the vanilla bean ice cream. The crust was warm and flaky, the peaches soaked up the flavor of the blackberries nicely, and the ice cream really set the whole thing off. The presentation was interesting as well.
There were only two minor problems with our meal, other than the bread in the stew. The yellow cake one of our party ordered was somewhat dry, and their mushroom pizza had an overabundance of arugula.
Overall: This is a restaurant not to be missed! Make your reservations for this quiet gem with excellent food, great service, and reasonable prices. A very nice surprise in the middle of the revitalized downtown Loveland, Colorado. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at this restaurant and really wish it wasn’t 1,200 miles away!