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The Bite

Sean Kelly says goodbye--and takes Aubergine and the Biscuit with him.

Along with gaining a new chef staff, Mel's has reworked its menu. It's less ambitious than the one Wiard and Bonanno were doing, but that could be a good thing: The dishes seem simpler and more focused, and the over-the-top elements that Wiard was so fond of are less abundant -- which means they carry more weight when they do appear. For instance, Sorensen is offering a fun smoked-salmon "lollipop" appetizer ($9.50) that features a salmon-wrapped breadstick stuck in goat cheese. Among the entree highlights are buffalo meatloaf ($18.50) in a poblano chile sauce with chipotle ketchup, sautéed Chilean sea bass in a ginger sauce punched up with blue crab ($23.75) and, for the vegetarians, a polenta Napoleon ($14.95) that involves fresh mozzarella and wilted greens.

While some of the dishes -- and faces -- may be new, however, Mel's offers the same attentive, efficient service, as well as its ever-appealing and well-priced wine roster. The Masters may deserve a break, but Denver needs them right where they are.

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