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A Proper Setting

Diamond Grill tries to make the cut.

On the other hand, we would have loved more of the blackened sea scallops ($6.95): expertly seared, fiery on the outside and tender on the inside, coated with a lemon-kissed beurre blanc and beautifully presented. And several other entrees were just what a neighbor might be looking for during a casual, cozy night on the town: a dense, hearty meatloaf ($9.95) smothered in oniony brown gravy; a maple-sweetened, Dijon-sharpened grilled salmon ($13.95) with wild-rice pilaf; a tender, juicy roasted chicken half ($10.95) scented with rosemary and glazed with balsamic. The house salad ($2.95) is a well-assembled mélange of greens and good blue cheese, with a nice inclusion of red cabbage and carrots. And the Caesar ($2.95) carries a welcome tangy bite.

While the Diamond Grill has been polishing its evening offerings, lunch has always worked pretty well. The Diamond Deluxe burger ($7.45) may be total overkill (it won our Over-the-Top Hamburger award in the Best of Denver 1999), but it's just right for folks seriously challenging their bodily capacity for processing food: an impeccably grilled-to-your-specs eight-ounce disk of ground chuck topped with a split hot dog, American cheese and a potent red chile and sided with thin, crispy fries. The regular Diamond burger ($5.45) is a more sensible but equally drippy/delicious choice. Still, our favorite lunch find was the grilled mahi mahi sandwich ($7.45), which slathers fresh, succulent fish in a tastebud-whacking Szechuan sauce.

And then there are those desserts, available both at lunch and dinner. True to Bortz's legacy, they always come with little spider webs and other Pastry Arts 101 designs made out of such sauces as raspberry coulis and crème anglaise. (Hey, I should know, since I once worked for the guy and had to paint the plates his way.) At the Diamond Grill, these sauces sometimes made sense -- for instance, the aptly named triple-layer silk mousse cake ($5) was paired with a fine raspberry version -- and sometimes they didn't: While the vanilla-bean cheesecake ($5) was delicious in its own right, it came stuck to the plate with a glue of caramel sauce that also was delicious but detracted from the cheesecake. It would have worked much better under a slab of bread pudding.

A facet in the crowd: The Diamond Grill knows how to 
be a good neighbor.
Q Crutchfield
A facet in the crowd: The Diamond Grill knows how to be a good neighbor.

All in all, though, the Diamond Grill seems to be smoothing out its rough edges. With a little more polishing of the recipes and service, this diamond could really sparkle. In the meantime, it sure blows Taco Bell away.

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