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Everything posted by rlm

  1. I respect your opinion and palate, Fred, and it’s fun to see a post from you here again. I wish I lived closer to your better half’s deli because it’s spectacular. I do miss all the different spins on Zlikrofi (one of my favorites too). The last time I remember seeing it was last September. Ditto the Canederli and Toc. I’ve loved some of the newer items they’ve come up with though, such as the La Tur and Soft Ricotta Tortelloni that was a menu staple in the last year. I devoured delicious Rabbit and Root Vegetable Cjalsons from Friuli a couple of weeks ago when Joe Bastianich was in the house with his vino. Another spin on Cjalsons was on the February menu (Rancho Gordo beans and mortadella) and yet another in January (chicken and vegetables with brown butter, parmesan and pecans). I’m not sure where else in Colorado I can order Cjalsons. How much is it that Lachlan’s menu has changed to be like everyone else’s versus everyone else’s menus starting to look more like Frasca’s? I would submit that dining in the Denver area and in most places across the country is so much better than it was even five years ago when they opened. There’s more of an emphasis everywhere on local/artisan products, and diners are becoming more savvy. I would also imagine there are economic factors to consider. Transportation and food costs have sharply risen, so chefs have to walk a tightrope of what they want to include in a dish versus what the public in a relatively small town (as in the case of Boulder) may be willing to pay for it. When they first opened, their special Monday wine dinner menu was $25 and now sits at $45 (although it is four courses rather than the three they initially offered), and some locals whined about their prices even back then. Are there certain dishes I miss and crave? Yes! The long-gone Peanut Butter Cup; the plain-looking yet utterly amazing BOWL of juicy shaved pork leg tossed simply with cherries or peaches or plums; various incarnations of fritta, especially the lobster; and on and on. If the past is any guide, I’m quite certain there will be many new amazing dishes I’ll have there in the future too. This made me think of a quote from Terry Theise on Grape Radio about assigning a numerical value to wine, which might seem completely silly here but I like it: “As soon as you assign an absolute value to wine, which is of course a moving target itself and we also—we tasters—are also moving targets, you are misleading.” Restaurants change over time just as we the diners are changing with them. Chef Lachlan’s a dad now. He and Bobby are making wine in Italy. They’re traveling and doing more charity events and industry functions. They’re planning an expansion in a new building on the other side of Pearl. They’ve been on TV quite a bit (Mark Bittman, Martha Stewart, and now Top Chef Masters). Their hard work has opened up a world of opportunities for them which can hopefully only benefit the restaurant and we their guests. Dining there every month they’ve been in business has afforded me the opportunity to see all their peaks and valleys, and I must say their valleys are higher than the peaks of most. They have spoiled me rotten and I love them for it.
  2. Frasca is a small restaurant with one early staggered seating and a late one. They are very good about knowing their customer base and gauging how long it might take for a particular table to turn when booking reservations. However, sometimes the early diners “camp out” and take more time than anticipated. Management can’t run over to their table and say, “The jeremyn party has arrived, so we need you to drain the rest of that Conterno as quickly as you can and leave NOW.” We requested a special table for my birthday once and arrived to find the early diners were long finished with their food but were still drinking and engaged in animated conversation and clearly weren’t leaving soon. We were offered a different table if we didn’t want to wait for the requested one, as well as a comped beverage, and felt like they were taking care of us the whole time. You mentioned there was free wine waiting at your table, so I’m assuming this wasn’t brought up as a complaint. Co-owner Bobby Stuckey, who has an MS but doesn’t think he’s too good to bus tables and run out plates from the kitchen with his crew, clearly loves the hospitality business and wants every person walking through the door to leave happy. I see Bobby and his staff bending over backwards for guests time and time again, even if the guests are grumpy and look like they’ve just rolled out of bed and would be more comfortable at Wendy’s. In this post, you expressed concerns about your food and the service but indicated “we didn’t say anything.” I can assure you that if you had simply asked to speak to an owner or manager about your concerns that they would have made things right and your impressions would have probably been much different. Not all places are as good about this and sometimes it’s just better to cut your losses and leave, but Frasca continues to get my business because they do care. There are a few dishes I haven’t been enamored with in the past (rice pudding on a set Monday night menu, a couple of soup experiments, a flavor of gelato that I felt overwhelmed a dessert), and they were for reasons of personal preference rather than how the dish was executed by the kitchen. In some of these cases my better half vehemently disagreed with my assessment, yet when a server would pick up on my visual cues that I wasn’t enjoying it or when I spoke up and offered my opinion, I’ve always been offered something else. I’m not suggesting, of course, that this gives anyone free license to almost lick their plate clean and then complain and ask for a replacement dish. If you know you don’t like the flavor profile of a dish or feel the kitchen has botched the preparation, you will know with the first bite or two. Speak up. I don’t think being younger than the “typical Frasca crowd” means you will be treated somehow worse. Some of their staffers are and have historically been quite young. I sat next to a very young couple once all dressed up and sipping sodas, and even though they obviously couldn’t drink legally and would therefore have a much lower check average, they were doted on like you wouldn’t believe. They have turn-over like all restaurants and I would imagine that sometimes it takes a while to get all the back waiters and servers (as well as the cooks busting their humps in the tiny kitchen) educated about the menu and working in concert. Think about when you have started a new job—are you perfect during your first month? However, even with all the changes I’ve seen over the years they seem to be able to roll with it better than almost any other restaurant I’ve encountered. I started this thread five years ago because I was so blown away by my experience. Even the bar stools I complained about in that initial post were quickly replaced with comfortable chairs (as sometimes not everything you ordered arrives on time when you’re trying to throw open the doors of a restaurant, and you just have to make do). On one of my earlier visits during their opening year, I was mildly irritated with our server, but after encountering her again many times after that and receiving stellar service realized she may have just been having a bad day (and maybe I was as well, and this could have colored my perceptions, as well as the way I was acting towards her). Unless someone is overtly rude and incompetent, I try to take better care now in not making snap judgments about a server’s personality because I have been flat-out wrong before. Let’s face it—working with the public is a tough job. People in the hospitality business have illnesses and deaths in the family and financial crises just like people in other occupations, only they have to be “on” all the time and still take care of hundreds of people with vastly different preferences and dining expectations, even on days when they really need someone taking care of them. There was a nice article in the Denver Post earlier this year about one of Frasca’s long-time servers: Service with a Soul There is an excellent article in the February issue of Sommelier Journal called “The Philosophy of Service” where a group of industry veterans including Bobby Stuckey of Frasca and Nick Peyton of Cyrus in Healdsburg share what they’ve learned over the years. I don’t believe the article is available online, but you probably can still order a back issue: Sommelier Journal
  3. I'm on the fence about this since I'm not really a dessert person (unless it's foie and Sauternes or selections from an enormous cheese cart), so do you think it's a must-go? Their guest dinners have always been amazing (Michelle Bernstein, Suzanne Goin, David Lynch, etc). They've already had a couple this year with Marc Vetri and Nate Appleman and they were fantastic (and included autographed hard-cover books). I must admit I don't know much about Mr. Iuzzini, so persuade me.
  4. If you are having dinner in the Denver metro area tonight, please consider visiting one of these excellent restaurants, as 25% of the food proceeds will be donated to Project Angel Heart (which delivers wholesome, nutritionally-appropriate meals to people with serious diseases): Dining Out for Life
  5. I enjoyed your blog post and pictures, UE. As someone whose visits to Frasca now number somewhere in the triple digits since '04, I've never personally experienced a drop-off in quality as mentioned in some posts here. Yes, I've seen sous chefs and staffers come and go and all the twists and turns in the menu develop like any restaurant, but the bottom line is that Bobby and Lachlan run a tight ship and manage to deliver a superior experience in every aspect year in and year out. I turned into a regular because I was treated like one from the moment I stepped through the door (alone, mind you, without a reservation and not draped in Prada or anything resembling it). I'm super-critical and even a little snarky, yet they continually floor me with all the small details they have perfected over time that other places miss entirely. I never would have imagined that a place like this would have opened up so close to my corner of the world. The fact that they impressed me when their doors had barely even been thrown open for business and continue to do so surprises even me. My favorite musicians aren't even that consistent.
  6. H Mart is Korean. They even have a Wikipedia entry: H Mart
  7. Someone responded on another food board recently that it is illegal for cabs to "cruise" in Denver and pick people up on the streets, but that they are thinking of changing the regulation before the Democratic National Convention next year. Seems like a silly regulation. I did a Google search and found a Denver Post article about it Cabbies hail easier pickups. There are always cabs sitting outside of major hotels and at places like Union Station. We too always have the maitre d' at restaurants call when we need one.
  8. Wow. If Casa de Hades was the culinary highlight, I almost hate to ask where else you ate.
  9. Like BekkiM, I am not sure I truly have 10 clear-cut “can’t miss” places in mind for the Denver area like I have for SF. I immediately thought of 4 (with numbers 2 through 4 subject to change based on my own personal culinary schizophrenia). 100 other places are tied for slots 5 through 10. There are many different types of places here that I enjoy equally (from sushi to Mexican to sandwiches to steak), and I’m excited that the dining scene keeps getting better. There are particular dishes like the duck confit leg at Café Star or the $3 rajas con queso pupusas at Pupusas Sabor Hispano (thanks to critic Lori Midson for the rec) or the cassoulet maison at Z Cuisine that can rock with the best of them. But while Denver is no longer a “cow town,” we still lack places that are particularly dressy and formal like Per Se (except for maybe high tea at the Brown Palace, but you can't really compare that to a place like Per Se either). Here’s my current 4 (with the number one slot being unchanged since August of 2004 when they opened): 1. Frasca Food and Wine-Boulder. Simply unbeatable, especially if you love wine, whether you’re an aficionado or a newbie. Not many places in the country have a down-to-earth master somm walking the floor (along with a cadre of knowledgeable somms and servers) giving your Aunt Edna from Toledo detailed advice on Barbarescos. 2. Fruition-Denver. It just opened this year, but I’ve been stunned at the quality of the food. It’s small and they have an equally tiny wine list, but they are so friendly and welcoming and I hope they make buckets of money. 3. Rioja-Denver. The pork belly is indeed to die for. I have to throw in my love for their weekend brunch (especially if you just walk in, sidle up to the bar, and throw back a Loca Hot while perusing the menu). 4. nine75-Denver. This place is more funky and casual than the others, but Troy Guard has got the “goods” when it comes to the food. It also helps if you have fond music memories from the ‘80’s and can effortlessly switch between eating sushi, meatloaf, quesadillas, and cotton candy in one sitting. I will forgive them for forcing Journey upon me when I click on their website. My out-of-town guests vary, so I try to take them to places I know they will enjoy (although I love nudging people outside of their comfort zones too). My friends who have procreated DO love it when we take their offspring to the evil Casa Bonita since they’re running around elated at the cliff divers and ski-ball. Mi madre is a teetotaler and wouldn’t appreciate Frasca (she would be mortified to see me quaffing Prosecco), so I take her to places that are more her speed (I won't give them any publicity though).
  10. Thanks for the detailed review. Maybe the stars aligned just right for me, but I am an incredibly picky diner and have had three exceptional experiences at Fruition in a row spaced apart in three different months. I can’t think of any other high-end place in the metro area other than Frasca and Adega where I found myself subsequently craving the food to such a high degree. I only wish Fruition had more room for wine storage and could offer more selections, particularly by the glass. I’m actually a bit averse to over-salting and haven’t had anything yet at Fruition that I thought was too salty (including some of the dishes you mentioned). In contrast, I ordered an herbed filet at Aix recently and couldn’t taste the herbs or even the meat given the predominance of salt, and I’ve thankfully never experienced that at Fruition yet (and hopefully won’t). I think my favorite dishes so far have been the earlier incarnation of the Butter Poached Smoked Salmon with roasted beet spaetzle, shaved asparagus salad, and horseradish beurre blanc; the BBQ Pork Shoulder Confit; and the beet carpaccio salad with goat cheese fritters. 35 minutes is obviously unacceptable to wait for the dessert course, although I will say that two of my visits were on Sunday evenings and I luckily didn’t encounter any pacing issues like that with the courses. I don’t generally eat bread on every trip to restaurants after the initial visit (Frasca included) unless it’s brought out warm (like the focaccia at 240 Union, although I haven’t been there in ages so I’m not sure if they still do that or not) or there’s a unique flavor to it (like the goat cheese biscuits at Rioja), but I had a slice of the wheat bread at Fruition and it didn’t seem any better or worse than what other establishments offer (not that this is necessarily high praise, of course). Do they make their bread in-house or source it from somewhere else? While I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the metro area that can consistently match what Frasca is doing in terms of food, wine, and service across-the-board, it’s also a different kind of restaurant than Fruition (regional Italian vs. haute comfort food). I like how they’re both small, welcoming, neighborhood-style places with great food where the service isn’t incredibly formal but isn’t amateur-ish or too informal either.
  11. Bistro Vendome has consistently improved since the Rioja owners took it over. I didn't go back for a long time until I heard of the management change. I listed both for brunch recs, as that's the best time to go to, imo, although I've had some great dinners at Rioja too. A problem with Denver restaurants in general is consistency, as I've had varied experiences at Zengo too (even within the span of one meal). Of course, ordering is key at any establishment in the country since every place has a few knock-your-socks off dishes that will make an immediate impact (and sometimes a few clunkers as well). I've generally had good luck in Denver asking staffers for recs (especially the bartenders), and I always scan the reviews online of local critics beforehand to see if they mention any highlights or lowlights on the menu. They don't always agree, of course, but if you can find a place or dish that mesmerizes all of them, then it's a safe bet. The Denver Post food section has Tucker Shaw's reviews and an online dining guide. The Rocky Mountain News has John Lehndorff's reviews and an online dining guide. Westword has Jason Sheehan's reviews, a "Best Of" section that contains their annual awards, and an online restaurant search. Google any of Lori Midson's reviews online at AOL CityGuide, GoColorado or any number of other places (and nab a copy of Colorado Avid Golfer magazine for her dining column). You could also pick up a copy of 5280 magazine when you are in town. Frasca and Fruition are my personal iron-clad recommendations for the higher end (keeping in mind that Fruition has only been open about 4 months and Frasca's been perfecting things for 3 years).
  12. If you can't make it to Frasca, at least don't miss Fruition. Your taste buds will thank you. Please don't go out of your way for the Denver Diner, as its main selling point is that it's open 24 hours and relatively close to several concert venues. There's nothing adventurous about it, except for the prospect that you might be accosted by a crack head on Colfax.
  13. I'm no prude, but I don't understand how anyone could eat a steak while a stranger is simultaneously shaking their nether regions and good-n-plentys in your face. Is this a guy thing? El Chapultepec is still going. At Sushi Sasa, if you're really hungry, don't let them talk you into splitting the cheapest tasting menu with another person (be greedy and get your own). The Diablo Roll is quite good. I've had the omakase a couple of times and they started with oysters each time (once they were from Boston and more recently, hama hamas from Washington state) and later brought out a cooked "kitchen sampler" plate with things like miso black cod and wagyu beef followed by various kinds of sushi. I really liked a small cup of fatty toro served with a dipping sauce, and a salmon/crab/avocado/asparagus concoction rolled up in cucumbers. Pass on the dessert course and add a savory one if they'll let you, as you're not going to a sushi place for Choco-Banana Surprise, are you?
  14. I went to Davies Chuck Wagon Diner on a Saturday morning earlier this year and sat at the counter between the afore-mentioned club kids and truckers. I had their $4.95 special that included steak. Pro: I'm not sure you can get a steak anywhere else for around 5 bucks. Con: It definitely tasted like a 5-dollar steak. It didn't remind me of the diners I went to growing up. Their hash browns just weren't as good (not greasy enough...heh heh). I would be interested in trying their CFS though. I can recommend the omakase at Sushi Sasa that JWest mentioned. Sit at the sushi bar and start with the cheapest option--then let them know if you are still hungry before the desserts arrive. And get some Wakatake Sake! Busboy, Duffy's closed. The steakhouse/jug emporium you are thinking of might be the Diamond Cabaret. The Sullivan restaurant group took over the kitchen there and it is called Oscar's. I only know this factoid because I love Troy Guard's other places like nine75 (which is slated to have a second location open next month in Westminster on 120th). I ate at the Rocky Mtn. Diner occasionally when I worked downtown (the pot roast is reliable), but I wouldn't make a special trip there.
  15. If you click on the Colorado Restaurant Recommendations thread link I included and scroll down, Kevin Taylor and Rioja are both discussed. Another poster, JWest, has a great write-up with pictures of Palace Arms on his food blog. There are other egullet posts mentioning these restaurants if you do a forum search. In my post, I included links to the websites of two gourmet food stores that also have delis, Cook's Fresh Market on the 16th St. Mall (at Glenarm) and Marczyk Fine Foods on 17th Avenue and Clarkson. Cook's will be the closest to you, and they have excellent sandwiches. The two top places right now that I would recommend without hesitation to foodies visiting from a major food city like NYC or SF would be Frasca Food and Wine & Fruition (the latter is a much shorter drive from where you are staying). If you are into wine even a little bit, you will find a trip to Frasca worth it, as they are able to source reasonably-priced wines (including many by the glass that they will be happy to pair with your food) that you won't see on everyone else's wine lists. Note: Of the places mentioned in the CO restaurants thread, both emogene and Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai have subsequently closed. Kevin Taylor, Rioja, and Marczyk Fine Foods (as well as Duo in the Highlands area) are all in the June 2007 Cooking Light "Enlightened Traveler" article on Denver.
  16. There are some recent recommendations that include Denver on this thread: CO Restaurant Recommendations Needed What area of downtown are you staying at (in case you want "walk-to" recommendations)? Too bad you can't make it to Frasca in Boulder (shamelessly beg a colleague for a ride if you can). If you want the top table in Denver-proper right now, I would suggest taking a short cab ride one night and going to Fruition on E. 6th Avenue (just mentioned in the June Gourmet). There are quite a few chain steakhouses downtown (but why go to a new city to go to a chain unless you are really craving steak?), with the best probably being Capital Grille on Larimer. Elway's (yes, THAT one) is an independent carnivore's den, but it's in Cherry Creek rather than downtown. The afore-mentioned Capital Grille on Larimer is nearby other hot spots like Rioja, which also does an excellent weekend brunch, as does their sister restaurant Bistro Vendome across the street. The breakfasts at Panzano in the Hotel Monaco still seem to be quite consistent. As for diners, if you hear recs for the Denver Diner or the historic Davies Chuck Wagon Diner (both on different parts of Colfax), keep in mind that you will enjoy both of these options more if (a) you are really intoxicated and starving and there aren't any other options in your immediate vicinity and (b) you really love sitting amidst both heavily-pierced club kids and truckers with Elvis sideburns.
  17. When I worked downtown I used to eat lunch @ Tamayo about once a week and didn't have any service issues, although this was two years ago. Since then I've been back to the bar area to eat and service isn't usually an issue when you have someone standing right in front of you attending to your every need. I did notice small differences in how the same dishes were prepared over time depending on who was in the kitchen on a given day. The original local chef was Sean Yontz, and he has his own Mexican place called Chama at Belmar in Lakewood now. I liked the food & drinks at La Sandia on a recent visit, although it was sad to see such a large and snazzy-looking place (I really like the colored glass) virtually empty at lunch on the weekend. I hope they're busier in the evenings.
  18. Sorry...I haven't posted here in a while and noticed the old edit options aren't available for previous posts. Anyway, I posted a link to the wrong Sushi Den (.com instead of .net). The one I meant to link to is this: Sushi Den
  19. Denver – Mel’s in Cherry Creek will be closing soon (scroll down). The owners have a new place on 6th Avenue called Montecito. Someone else will have to chime in on their new spot, as I haven’t been yet. My favorite new place in the metro area is Fruition on 6th Avenue, although a gushing recent review in the Denver Post is reportedly making tables harder to come by. I was there at the beginning of March and they were already packing them in on a week-night (and I love seeing talented independent local places drawing people away from the scourge that is Applebee’s and Olive Garden). They are conveniently on Open Table, and a quick check reveals they still have spots available next week. I was seated at the worst table in the house near the service station, but immensely enjoyed their riff on Oysters Rockefeller and the sublime Butter Demon that is their salmon. Competent, professional, friendly service (but not too familiar). nine75 on Lincoln in the Beauvallon Lofts complex between 9th and 10th Avenues: I love Chef Troy Guard’s upscale comfort food (which is like what you would get from June Cleaver’s kitchen if she went on an ecstasy-fueled bender and threw dishes like ceviche shooters and miso black cod into the mix that may scare your typical suburban housewife). He was once the chef at Zengo and is the originator of those luscious miniature won-ton tuna tacos. There are also steak and lobster variations on the menu here and at his seafood spot, Ocean. Ocean is in Cherry Creek near a crowded outpost of Whole Foods and the Cherry Creek Mall right next to another Sullivan Restaurant property, emogene (which has excellent sandwiches at breakfast & lunch, “evil” gourmet desserts, espresso drinks, and alcoholic drinks including Champagne and Port—and they’re open fairly late in the evening for the Denver area). Rioja on Larimer between 14th and 15th Streets – Purplewiz mentioned the pork belly up-thread and it is indeed fantastic. I first sampled it on New Year’s Eve last year with some visiting friends of ours from the Bay Area and we all went nuts for it. It’s an Indian-spiced hunk of heaven. I wasn’t as crazy about the Duck Confit Pizza (a little too rich for me, but I know people who love it). When offered bread, definitely try the goat cheese biscuits they make in-house. The pastas and soups are very reliable choices. I adore the artichoke tortelloni (which the chef has been dishing up at least since her days at Panzano). I most recently went a couple of weeks ago with three disparate friends. One of them who is not a foodie and prefers noshing at dive bars (ever-skeptical of anything resembling fine dining) declared that the veal special they were running that evening (which Chef Jen herself recommended as she was walking through the bustling dining room and bar area greeting everyone) was “one of the best things I’ve ever had to eat.” Our local mag 5280 just declared her to be their chef of the year. You might consider a roving meal in downtown Denver one evening where you split an appetizer in the bar area at one place and then move on to the next (that way you could sample a wider variety of what Denver has to offer and might find a place you want to return to for a full meal). There is a free shuttle on the 16th Street Mall that can help with navigating your way around (although I’d caution you about some of the places on the mall itself, except for the brilliant new location of Cook's Fresh Market). The Rioja owners bought a French spot with a lovely patio tucked away across the street called Bistro Vendome (a great place to nurse your hang-over at brunch while sucking down some perfect French-press coffee). Tamayo at 14th and Larimer close by is a sister restaurant to the Latin/Asian fusion of Zengo (and is my favorite of Chef Richard Sandoval’s local spots, with La Sandia at Scary Stapleton at I-70 and I-270 being the newest one--and definitely the brightest spot at Stapleton, camouflaged as it is in a sea of Bass Pro Shops and Super Targets and TGI Fridays). Sushi Han in nearby Writer’s Square doesn’t get the press given to Sushi Den or Sushi Sasa and is far more casual, but I’ve had great meals at all three places. Sushi Han won’t hit you in the pocketbook as hard as the other two, but their offerings are somewhat more limited. Sushi Den is on Pearl Street around the D.U. area and doesn’t take reservations except for parties of 5 or more and for their “omakase” room on Saturdays (and they are always packed to the gills, so get there early or expect to wait). Sushi Sasa is at 15th and Platte (not that far from Zengo at 15th and Little Raven) and takes reservations including seats at the sushi bar (with free parking during the evenings in the adjacent lot under the Wilderness Exchange sign—and your car will even still be intact the next morning if you have to leave it after downing too much sake). A bonus is that both Sushi Den and Sushi Sasa are open on Sundays when lots of other places are closed. One of the local Proto's Pizza's is in the same area (they have other locations in the northern ‘burbs and Boulder). A few other great spots for pizza are Virgilio's in Lakewood (at the very back of a strip mall on Wadsworth), The Oven at Belmar in Lakewood, and Parisi, an Italian deli in the Highlands Area west of downtown (at 44th Ave. and Tennyson caty-corner from great green chile cheese tamales for just over a buck at the no-frills La Casita). For other spots in the Highlands, swimclub32 on 32nd Avenue is fun, as is Duo on 32nd (who recently thankfully announced they are now taking reservations for all-size parties) and the tiny Z Cuisine (30th Ave.) that is expanding to encompass the spot on the corner, although I was told on a recent trip that they will have to figure out how to link the two separated rooms so they can notify guests when their table is ready. They envision it as a place for people to go and have wine, apps, and desserts and where one can wait on a table to free up since they only have a few. Go early and order quickly, because once they run out of the ingredients for something, it’s scratched off the limited chalkboard menu. I’ll second the rec for Vesta (also open on Sundays) and throw in a nod for the owners’ Brady Family Groovy Den/comfort food emporium Steuben's (Complete with deviled eggs! And fried chicken! And lobster rolls!) on 17th Avenue (a road populated with other spots like Peruvian food at Limon, Vietnamese at Parallel 17, and the gourmet market and wine shop Marczyk Fine Foods). Boulder - As JWest mentioned, Frasca Food and Wine is a MUST, especially if you like supporting places recognized by the Beard Foundation as you indicated above. Owner and master sommelier Bobby Stuckey was nominated for best wine service while working at the Little Nell in Aspen before taking the helm at this obscure place called the French Laundry (where he won the Beard award), and chef/owner Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson was nominated last year for his magic in the kitchen. They have been legitimately frothed over by seemingly every media outlet in the country, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, CBS Early Show…Just about everybody except Cat Fancy and This Week in Gallbladder Surgery. Fear not the reservation conundrum, as they have walk-in seating available at the bar, salumi bar, and 1 or 2 tables, as well as the patio in the summer. You will be treated like the king or queen you are even if you show up looking like Nick Nolte's mug shot. I also like a new-ish place called Black Cat Bistro (get the 5-course tasting menu), main-stay Q's in the Hotel Boulderado, The Kitchen (mainly for breakfast or weekend brunch), and Dish (gourmet sandwiches). If you get here in time and can find it, pick up the spring issue of Colorado Avid Golfer for the Best in Chow 2007 guide from Lori Midson. If you can’t find it, she gives props to Chutney’s in Castle Rock, Montecito, Superstar Asian, Steuben’s, Virgilio’s Pizzeria, Deluxe, Frasca, Mizuna, Rioja, Z Cuisine, Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai in Louisville, Mina’s Latin Restaurant in Erie, Sushi Sasa, Storyville Creole Café in Longmont, Pupusas Sabor Hispano, and a few “road trip” places such as Alice’s in Ward, Summit at the Broadmoor in CO Springs, Russets in Carbondale, D19 in Aspen, and Samplings Wine Bar in Frisco. 5280's March issue has a fun “101 Dining Experiences Every Denver-ite Must Have” cover story that will give you lots of ideas. Besides the Denver Post’s dining guide that johnsmith linked to, the Rocky Mountain News 2007 Dining Guide just came out yesterday: Another place to look for reviews and ideas is Westword's restaurant section. Durango – Look for the freebie Flavor of Durango guide around town or check out their website (not sure how current they keep it). I keep going back to Ken & Sue's. I’ve never had anything bad there, and even my ultra-picky sister enjoyed it. I’ve never seen their website functional (one must wonder why they’re paying for the domain name), although it now says it’s “coming this December.” Ludja mentioned Steamworks, and I have found that they have surprisingly good pizzas to go along with the burgers-n-brews. If you take the train ride, make sure you eat in Durango before and after, as the places in Silverton are far less appealing. Other Colorado spots – I’ve heard that Dish in Edwards near Vail right off of I-70 is THE hot place of the moment. Chef Lachlan of Frasca had a run-down of Aspen spots in a previous ish. of Food & Wine and it’s a good primer. (Yes, I do realize that I eat out entirely too much.)
  20. Busboy, you need to visit again and try some of the newer places that have opened. Things have improved significantly even since I moved here a few years ago. I remember coming here on vacation before that and being very disappointed with the fine dining options and the wine service. Flagstaff House was one of the only places I heard anyone mention when I asked for upscale recommendations (and it's the only place where you wouldn't feel like you were drinking wine out of a Dixie Cup). Then Bryan Moscatello's Adega (R.I.P.) opened with multi-course tasting menus and an elevated level of wine service and it made people start looking at Denver more. Now Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder (opened by French Laundry alums) has received the kind of national attention that will hopefully attract even more talented people to move here and set up shop. I wandered in and sat at the bar one evening and couldn't believe I was having such an amazing meal in Boulder, and I've had many, many more fantastic meals there since. It's not true that reservations are required though, as they have six bar seats and four salumi bar seats that are always open to walk-ins. Here is an older thread on egullet about Frasca. The chef was one of Food and Wine magazine's Top 10 Best New Chefs last year and is nominated for a Beard award this year. They now have two master sommeliers on staff, and they obviously put so much thought and care into their wine program including staff training that it's a no-brainer destination if you love vino. Take a look at Westword's Best of Denver 2006 or Lori Midson's list of top spots in Colorado Avid Golfer or John Lehndorff's Rocky Mountain News 2006 Dining Guide or Tucker Shaw and Co.'s write-ups in the Denver Post food section and tell me there aren't any good places to eat here now. One of the most satisfying meals I have had this year (other than places in the Bay Area like Manresa and mussels in Brussels) was at a tiny French spot in Denver called Z Cuisine. I am also maniacally addicted to the tiny tacos at Troy Guard's up-market comfort food spot Nine75. Yes, Denver is still a little thin in areas like quality Chinese places, and yes, you'll still occasionally get clunky glassware and shoddy wine service at places that should know better (but that can happen in any city). And yes, you should still go somewhere like Efrain's or Jack-N-Grill and get something unhealthy slathered in a mountain of green chile and chased with a margarita or twelve, but those aren't your only options anymore. We've got Jennifer Jasinski's Rioja and Frank Bonanno's Mizuna and Pim Fitt's Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai and lots of other places worth exploring. So let's get busy and support our talented independent local chefs and sommeliers and line crews and servers so they'll stay and tell their friends to move here too.
  21. We went to Lucile's last year and waited upstairs for about an hour for a table (and we eventually had to share our table with a couple of strangers). Not bad, but overrated. The creole sauce wasn't very spicy, and the beignets didn't make me forget about New Orleans. We haven't been back. So where was this great Chinese meal in Erie?
  22. Frasca in the Rocky today: Boulder, Italy: World-class flavors meld beautifully at Frasca Food & Wine Editor Wowed
  23. Frasca is in the Aspen Times today: Friendly Frasca
  24. My mother bought me a "4 Ingredient" cookbook written by a couple of homemakers in Kerrville, Texas. Some of the low-lights: Tater Tot Tuna, Pineapple Ball (which curiously includes green bell pepper as one of the four ingredients), Quickie Hawaiian Pork (do me, Don Ho), Bourbon Pie (add one wife-beater uncle and simmer for hours), Lime Coke Salad (three words you should never hear together), Coke Roast (grab some Shasta and get ta marinatin'), Hot Dog Tacos (nothing like finely chopped animal parts covered in Pace and processed cheese), Koolaid Pie (you know, Koolaid already figures in “so many” of my household recipes that I never thought they would come up with yet another use for the magical powder), Chocolate Express (chocolate liqueur, gelatin, coffee, ice cream--this isn't "Chocolate Express," it's "Crap I Picked Up At 7-11 at 3 in the morning”).
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