By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Food in the news: First a LoDo bar tour spilled out in testimony during last month's Peter Schmitz trial. (Schmitz partied at Enoteca LoDo, among other bars, after the not-guilty verdict came in.) Then Stephen Jones, attorney for Tim McVeigh, threw ravioli into the mix while criticizing an article by Dallas Morning News reporter Pete Slover, who'd had the nerve to write a story about McVeigh's alleged confession after eating pasta with Jones and his wife. But when a Westword staffer called for the recipe, Jones's office was considerably less forthcoming than the attorney. "It's not going to happen," said a spokeswoman. "Don't trivialize what's going on here by asking for recipes. If you want a recipe, call Martha Stewart."
Maybe the staffer should have asked for McVeigh's fertilizer-bomb formula.
Grill troubles: Rattlesnake Grill (3000 East First Avenue in Cherry Creek) has a new menu, and I hope it will help this appealing, two-year-old eatery finally find its niche. For some reason, the repertoire created by owner Jimmy Schmidt and chef Tim Anderson failed to strike a chord with Denver diners. When I first visited, my initial reaction was that the innovative dishes were too sophisticated for this city, that Denver just wouldn't get it. But not only were the combinations sophisticated, some of them simply didn't work as well as they should have. The new roster is simpler and cheaper, Schmidt says. "Today's Denver customer is looking for the quick and casual fix," he explains. "Customers want both cutting-edge and comfortable food served quickly and at a reasonable price. This menu will deliver for them."
A glance at this reworked menu, however, finds entries that don't jibe with that claim--$9.95 for a lunch entree of smoked chicken cannelloni with mushroom broth and sourdough toast? Overall, lunch prices range from $6.95 to $12.95, and while dinner is more reasonable, it still averages $15 per entree. I'm not saying the food isn't worth it, because Anderson is a talented chef, but there's so much going on in these dishes--broiled swordfish with tropical-fruit-horseradish salsa and lacy potato cakes; ale-cured smoked pork loin with grilled pears, apricot vinegar and sauteed red-beet ragout--that the proof is in the pudding. Or the eating, as it were.
Movin' on up: Tante Louise (4900 East Colfax Avenue) recently lost sommelier Bob Mandeau to the Palace Arms at the Brown Palace Hotel (321 17th Street). His post at the venerable French restaurant was filled by Justin Wharry, who helped create the wonderful wine list at Fourth Story (2955 East First Avenue). Meanwhile, former Palace Arms chef Jeff Erickson was hired away by the Denver Athletic Club (1325 Glenarm Place).
While Tante Louise's wine dinners will go on as usual, the restaurant is also offering a beer dinner on April 9. Chef Michael Degenhart has matched up the brews of H.C. Berger with some inspired French dishes; the cost is $37.50. Two nights later, the Denver Art Museum (100 West 14th Avenue Parkway) will host its third wine tasting, which will feature vino from Australia, Europe and South America paired with food from Kevin Taylor's Zenith; tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
And in an ongoing promotion, chef/owner Jim Begbie at Anastasia Vieux Carre (5946 South Holly in Greenwood Village) is offering a chef's table Tuesdays through Saturdays similar to the ones done at several exclusive New Orleans restaurants. The former Louisianan has changed the format a bit, though. Instead of requiring that a whole table order what traditionally are outrageously expensive meals--prepared Cajun-style according to the chef's whims--the deal will cost $19.95, include a soup or salad, an entree and dessert, and can be ordered by anyone. The regular menu, of course, will be offered as well.