Category Archives: Denver

Denver Area Food Fest & Restaurant News

Nearly 30 restaurants are expected at the third annual Denver Food & Wine Classic this Sunday, August 26 between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m., at the Pepsi Center grounds. I would be more excited about this event if there weren’t so many chains (including The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, Nik-N-Willy’s Pizza, PF Chang’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Ted’s Montana Grill). These include some of the better chains, but still…

The best part will be the Steel Chef competition, between 1:15 and 4:30 — which sounds as if each chef will cook separately rather than head-to-head. Slated to compete are Jennifer Jasinski, owner/chef of Rioja and Bistro Vendome, Denver; Ian Kleinman, chef de cuisine of O’s Steak & Seafood in the Westin Westminster; and Max Mackissock of Vita Restaurant, whose location I don’t know.

At the Wine Cafe, Trinchero Family Estates and distributor W.J. Deutsch & Sons will pour. Jim Beam and other high-test booze is also sponsoring. Event tickets are $50 and are available at several area wine and liquor stores.

Meanwhile, in addition to the yesterday’s a post about Alba Ristorante debuting in Boulder and a recent one about Wolfgang Puck’s Spago coming to Beaver Creek for the start of the ski season. Here are some other happenings on the local restaurant scene. I haven’t been to any of these yet, so consider this informational only:

  • Chez Thuy reopened after a remodel. 2655 28th Street, Boulder; 303-442-1700.
  • French 250 is the latest occupant of the space that long housed the much-loved Bistro Adde Brewster; 250 Steele Street, Denver; 303-331-0250,
  • Izakaya Den has opened in one of Denver’s delightful little neighborhood commercial centers; 1518 South Pearl Street, Denver; 303-777-0691.
  • Tambien Cantina has replaced Sketch, also in Cherry Creek North and also in the same building as French 250. 250 Steele Street, Denver; 303-333-17633.
  • Table Mesa is new in Denver’s southern suburbs; 7301 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton; 303- 962-8888.
  • Theorie is the new name for a downtown Denver restaurant that was originally (and briefly) called The Abbey; 1920 Market Street, Denver; the phone number might be 303-296-2255.

James Beard & Denver: Perfect Together

I recently posted news that two Colorado chefs — Sean Yontz, owner/chef of Chama, consulting partner/chef at Mezcal and the newly opened Tambien, and Chris Douglas, owner/chef of Tula Latin Bistro — will be cooking at New York’s James Beard House on August 22. Their theme will be Contemporary Latin Celebration. I’ve since learned that Matt Mine, executive chef at Denver’s recently opened Oceanaire Seafood Room will be joining Oceanaire chefs from six other locations to present the Ultimate Seafood Expereience at the Beard House on September 5.

If you’re in Colorado, you don’t have to fly to New York for Beard House-worthy food, because on September 28, Denver will join 19 other U.S. cities to host the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America, a national food festival celebrating the foundation’s 20th anniversary and the legacy of James Beard. Twenty cities, 20 years — catch that?

The talented chefs participating in the “Colorado Cooks for James Beard” dinner will be Frank Bonanno, chef/owner of Denver’s Mizuna and Luca d’Italia; Tim Love, James Beard Award nominee and chef/owner the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Love Shack and Duce in Fort Worth, TX; Yasmin LozadaHissom, pastry chef at Duo in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood; Thomas Salamunovich, chef/owner of Larkspur in and the soon to open Watermark in Edwards; Alex Seidel, chef/owner of Denver’s Fruition, and Elise Wiggins, executive chef at Panzano, also in Denver. If you’re wondering how Texan Tim Love muscled his way into a Denver dinner, there is a Colorado connection. He worked his way to the helm of Uptown Bistro in Frisco, CO, where he was honored several times with foth the Taste of Breckenridge Grand Award and the Taste of the Mountains Award. It will be good to have him back, cooking in Colorado. Bobby Stuckey, James Beard Award Winner, master sommelier and co-owner of Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine, will pair wines with each course.

This fabulous event on September 28 will take place at Panzano at the Hotel Monaco, with cocktails beginning at 6:00 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets cost $125 per person, and can be purchased by calling 303-395-2677 or e-mail office@heedum.com. The James Beard Foundation will donate a portion of the proceeds from the dinner to Operation Frontline Colorado, a Share Our Strength program.

On Saturday the 29th, the Williams-Sonoma store in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center will host a free Frestival Day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with cooking demonstrations and cookbook signings by award-winning chefs, children’s educational activities and tastings of artisanal products. Tim Love will do one of the demonstration, but the time has not yet been set. If you want to see him perform his culinary magic, call 303-394-2226 closer to the date.

Chef News from C-States

Colorado

Two Denver area chefs are heading for New York to cook at the James Beard House on August 22. Sean Yontz opened Tamayo for Richard Sandoval’s restaurant group and is now the owner/chef of Chama, consulting partner/chef at Mezcal and the newly opened Tambien. Chris Douglas is owner/chef of Tula Latin Bistro. The two-chef team plans a five-course dinner paired with an extremely rare Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, a Mexican distilled spirit made from the maguey plant, blending the bold flavors of Mexico, Spain and Central America overlaid with a Colorado flair. The dinner costs $125 for Beard members, $155 for all others. BTW, the Beard House has a no-tipping policy. If you wish to reserve, call 212-627-2308. If you’re in New York, or are simply curious, you can preview the menu on-line. Yontz and Douglas follow closely on the heels of Steven Topple of Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek, who prepared a pinot noir dinner there on August 9.

California

One of the best events during the four-day Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival will be the annual Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 15 at the Village at Northstar. The cooking competition will pit current two-time champion Chris Banovich of Big Wave Burritos in the Village at Northstar against Jacques Cornelis, executive chef at the Resort at Squaw Creek at Squaw Valley. The Iron Chef format gives chefs one hour to create as many dishes as possible using a secret ingredient to be unveiled when the clock starts ticking. Passport tickets for Saturday festivities cost $45 and access a day-long program of food and wine events, including the Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off, “Today’s American Barbeque” with chef Larks Kronmark, a Gourmet Marketplace, Big Kids’ Cooking Camp with chef Lara Ritchie and a cooking demonstration with executive chef Roy Siegel of the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco. For festival tickets (and lodging, if needed) call 888-229-2193 or go to the festival website.

Connecticut

If only I had known, I would have alerted you earlier to the Taste of Hartford. Twenty-seven restaurants in the capital of my home state have been offering $20.07 dinners since August 5 and will do so until August 11. I love these Taste of…. events, because they enable locals and visitors alike to get a good dinner deal at favorite restaurants and also try new ones. Chefs get exposure with a new clientele and restaurants build traffic during slow times, so it’s a win-win format.

Denver Lunch Recommendations

I received the following E-mail that I’ll answer here in case anyone else has a similar question:

“Hi Claire,
Since I believe you’re pretty well-versed with dining in
Denver, can you tell me of a place for lunch with seating outside that is
organic, or at least somewhat in that vein? On or near 16th street perhaps. I need
to meet someone for lunch in that area tomorrow….”

WaterCourse Foods (837 East 17th Ave, a few blocks east of downtown around Emerson; 303-832-7313) would answer your organic desires but perhaps not an optimum location. Mad Greens (1600 Stout Street; 303-464-7336) is right on the 16th Street Mall, but I can’t recall whether they have outdoor seating. Rioja (1431 Larimer Street; 303-820-2282) uses fresh, seasonal, local ingredients (though not necessarily organic) and has fine outdoor seating. Tamayo (1400 Larimer Street; 720-946-1433) uses fresh, again not necessarily organic, ingredients in its sprightly modern Mexican dishes. There’s a nice little sidewalk dining space and a dynamite rooftop deck.

Good luck.

Ethnic Eating with "The Gyros"

I finally have had a chance to sink my teeth into The Gyro’s Journey, a lovely little guidebook by food writers Joey Porcelli and Clay Fong to some of Colorado’s wonderful eateries. The book’s subtitle is “Affordable Ethnic Eateries along the Front Range.” It’s really a guide to those restaurants in the Denver/Boulder area. The two southernmost are in Centennial. The two northernmost are in Longmont. There’s nothing from Fort Collins or Colorado Springs or Pueblo (all Front Range cities). While is fine with me personally, because this is where I live too, some foodies might appreciate a wider geographic spread.

The book spotlights 53 worthy restaurants, organized by type of cuisine, though in some cases, an ethnic category contains just one restaurant. For example, the Oriental Food Market in Boulder is the only Indonesian eatery, the Cafe Prague the only one under Czech Republic, Little Europe the only Ukrainian/Russian, White Eagle the only Polish, the Celtic Tavern the only Irish place and so on. Some other ethnic categories include only two entries.

The Gyro’s Journey does not purport to be comprehensive in the manner of Susan Permut’s Adventures in Eating series, the last of which was, I believe, published in the mid-1990s. Her Denver’s Ethnic Restaurants, for example, covered nearly 150 eateries in roughly the same geographic area as The Gyro’s Journey. Porcelli and Wong devoted more time and space to each restaurant

The great strength of The Gyro’s Journey lies in the thoroughness and tone of each write-up, invariably an admiring tribute to the restaurant, to its ethnic tradition and often to the individual owner and/or chef. Visit a restaurant vicariously with Porcelli and Wong, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been there before you walk through the door.

If they are contemplating writing Another Gyro’s Journey, I hope that in the Boulder area alone, they will consider including Pupusa’s (Salvadorian/Mexican), Mina’s Latin Restaurant (Mexican), China Gourmet,Khow Thai, Proto’s (great if yuppified pizza), Cafe Gondolier (southern Italian “with Italian-American flare” — a phrase that I coined to make you smile), Kim Food to Go (Vietnamese and Chinese; take-out only). Denver offers Cebiche (Peruvian) and Lakewood boasts Virgilio’s (pizza with just one degree of separation from its southern Italian roots).

Unless and until they do, The Gyro’s Journey should be enough to hold us all. It was published by Fulcrum Publishing and costs $12.95. You might also want to check out the authors’ blog.

Denver Chefs to Food & Wine, Part Deux

A few days ago, when I posted the names of the Denver chefs who will be cooking at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, I wasn’t sure of the auspices under which they would there. Yesterday evening, found out. I attended a send-off champagne reception for them at Corridor 44 and got the lowdown. The Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau funded a Taste of Denver booth in the Grand Tasting tent. Rich Grant of the DMCVB said that the bureau is seeking to help Denver chefs get the recognition they deserve in the culinary community. Today’s Denver Post Food section ran a front-page feature on the chefs that included half-a-dozen recipes.

Bits of Restaurant News

I’m just as deadline-crazed as I was a few days ago, but I am trying to catch up by posting three messages this morning — diverse topics that I ordinarily would have posted over several days. Here’s some restaurant news of note (in addition to the opening of Amuse by Michel, which I wrote about earlier today):

  • Mista Trattoria is a bit like a hermit crab, inhabiting spaces vacated by a previous tenant. The first Mista took over the old Laudisio’s space in North Boulder, and the second is situated the old Rudi’s World Cuisine space in South Boulder (4720 Table Mesa Drive; 303-554-5828). Rudi’s, a long-time Boulder tradition, is gone for good — or so it seems.
  • But sometimes “gone” is only temporary. Lulu’s Kitchen, serving up down-home, Southern-style food, is back. It had a short run in East Boulder recently but is up and running again, now on the Hill, at 1124 Thirteenth Street; 303-449-6637.
  • City, O’ City, a coffee house and vegetarian/vegan pizzeria, is now at 206 East 13th Street; 303-831-6443. It has taken over the previous location of WaterCourse Foods, a vegetarian restaurant, which relocated to 837 East 13th Avenue; 303-832-7313. They, as well as the WaterCourse Bakery (214 East 13th Avenue; 303-318-9843), are under the same ownership.
  • The Corner Office is open in the Hotel Curtis (1405 Curtis Street; 825-6500), offering up breakfast, lunch and dinner — and it has a martini bar too.
  • After shuttering Mel’s Restaurant and Bar, the Masters clan and executive chef Adam Mali have turned their attention to a second location for their quick-hit Montecito Restaurant & Bar (the new one is at 5970 South Holly Street, Greenwood Village; 303-777-8223) and nearby Annabel’s at 5960 South Holly; 303-488-2662. Both are in the the Denver Tech Center area. The first Montecito’s is at 1120 East Sixth Avenue; 303-777-8222.
  • Ping’s Favorite Chinese Restaurant in the strip mall behind Video Station has closed. A sushi restaurant has taken its place.
  • The small store at 2359 Arapahoe that housed Tastefully Toasted, the best donut store around, is empty.