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Reneau also enthused about Panzano and its owners, the Kimpton Group, a "shining example of an employer and a restaurant committed to achieving excellence," she said, then added, "admittedly, there are still problems. What do you expect, the restaurant is only nine months old and still fine-tuning. It's a toddler in the ranks of The Palm, Strings and Ellyngton's, to name a few. Speaking of which, when was the last time Kyle reviewed one of these restaurants? Just because they have been around for years does not mean they have the corner on cuisine and service in the metro area."
Whoa. First of all, nine months is plenty of time to work out any major kinks; at any quality restaurant, the fine-tuning never ends. And second, I reviewed Strings two years ago ("To Serve and Perfect," May 22, 1997); Ellyngton's three and a half years ago ("The Royal Treatment," December 20, 1995) and The Palm on several occasions in Mouthing Off, most recently in the May 27 edition. With thousands of restaurants waiting to be reviewed, none of those three ranks high on my list for another official visit. In particular, I've never been a big fan of the Palm---but at least they don't have fake bread in their windows, as Panzano does.
1822 Blake St.
Denver, CO 80202
Region: Downtown Denver
If you want to get past the window-dressing and all the way into the kitchen, however, Panzano is offering some interesting new deals. Executive chef Ben Davis now hosts a "Chef's Table," limited to two parties a night (at $45 a head, plus $20 each for wines), where he'll prepare a personalized, northern Italian feast; on July 20, the restaurant welcomes husband-and-wife winemakers Raimondo Lombardi and Antonella Tacci for a winemaker's dinner featuring wines from Martilde Winery (that evening's tab is $80 per person--but wines are included). Call 303-296-3525 for more information and reservations. And still the fine-tuning continues: Last week Panzano's introduced weekday happy hours, with half-price food and drink specials from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight. And Friday afternoons come complete with complimentary pizza tasters for commuters.
One last bite of Best of: Another caller took me to task for my choice of emily's gourmet to-go (1543 Champa Street) for Best Soups. "You guys said emily's had the best soup, and I went there and ate it, and it tasted like crap," the anonymous dude said. "The Soup Kitchen has way better chowder than them people. I'm just wondering why you guys don't check every restaurant. And that's about it. Thanks. Bye-bye."
I may not have tried every soup in town, but I did stop twice at emily's, where I sampled the burgundy portabello, the Portuguese potato and bean, and the mushroom risotto, all of which were stellar. I also visited the Soup Kitchen, a good lunch spot at 1675 Larimer Street, to see if the clam chowder was a contender, but I found it to be on the dry side.
I'm already off slurping soups for next year. So, Mr. Dude, if you think you can eat soup at every restaurant in this town within a year's time, call me and let's do lunch.
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