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MOUTHING OFF

Spare changes: Denver continues to open more restaurants than it closes, and the chains are spreading faster than an infectious disease. The competition for customers--and ink--is fierce, particularly downtown, which is why it's nice to find a success story like that of Bayou Bob's. At the end of September the Cajun restaurant will move from 17th Street to Glenarm Place, where it will occupy the entire retail space available in the bottom of the Paramount building. This version of the eatery will seat 45 more diners than the original, but the menu remains the same. And although Bayou Bob's has started its own chain by adding a second, southeast link, this is one expansion I applaud--the Denver Tech Center needs all the culinary help it can get.

The downtown Bob's will be next door to the reworked Paramount Cafe on the 16th Street Mall. Having filled the space once occupied by Goldie's with five pool tables, a foosball table and a few dart boards, the Paramount now bills itself as "Denver's rock 'n' roll cafe." Its new menu features a few of Goldie's golden oldies, like the great Reuben, plus some new subs, including one called the "Yucatan"--a grilled-steak sub with a chipotle mayonnaise that I suspect no one in the Yucatan has ever whipped up in the kitchen.

Mexico is also a focus of the new breakfast menu at the Augusta in the Westin Hotel, Tabor Center, at 1672 Lawrence Street. The Augusta is now the hotel's sole restaurant; it closed the Tabor Grill a few weeks ago. The Grill may not have been able to cut the mustard financially, but it was always a nice upscale breakfast spot--and the Augusta is trying to continue that tradition. Although chef Roland Ulber has changed the Grill's exemplary eggs Benedict to a less exciting Florentine (spinach) version, he's added a fabulous chorizo quesadilla with pico de gallo and asadero cheese ($8.25) that I wolfed down. Quite a way to start the day.

Fresh from its own menu overhaul, the Denver Buffalo Company bought the groovy-looking Buffalo Bar & Restaurant in Idaho Springs--and promptly changed nothing. The main purveyor of that other red meat, Morton's of Chicago, at 1710 Wynkoop, recently made a very important change--the hiring of general manager Roger Turek, who replaced the retiring Gary Link. Let's hope Turek does something about the waitstaffers who think women shouldn't be allowed to eat in public without a high-tipping male chaperone.

Beef couldn't save Bianco's Steakhouse, at 7180 East Hampden. Owner Fred White had changed the place from a pizzeria and started serving certified Angus beef, but the crowds never stampeded to his door--and now that door is shut for good. A few miles farther down the road, at 9955 East Hampden, the second Narayan's Nepal Restaurant has closed (the original, on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, is still packing them in). Owner Shyam Shrestha and his family make wonderful food, but this location stinks. Good luck to its next occupant: 1,001 Nites, an Afghanistan eatery.

Further south, Castle Rock is turning into a hot spot for food. Add Tom Walls to the growing list of people wanting to get a piece of the Rock. Walls, of Trinity Grille and Rocky Mountain Diner fame, has been trying to buy the Keystone Hotel, which once held the well-regarded M&N Steakhouse. Walls's incarnation reportedly will be called the Castle Cafe and will feature a Western theme.

Meat you there.

 
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