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The Bite

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Me-oh-my-oh: Life in Cherry Creek North just got a lot less interesting. The Cajun/Creole party spot Petra's (2700 East Third Avenue) has closed, abandoning its high-rent, below-street-level space for the plum opportunity of running Denver's City Park Golf Course club, at 2500 York Street. Petra's on the Park will have three times as many seats (including a jazzy patio that overlooks the golf course) and will serve three meals daily. "This is going to be a challenge for us, and a lot of work," says Petra Barnes, who owns the eatery with fiancé Michael Walker. "But it was time to get out of that expensive place and go somewhere that will get our food."

The geriatric pick-up place Déjà-Vu, next door to Petra's in Cherry Creek, has continued to pack 'em in, so she may be right.

Petra's on the Park is scheduled to open January 5; until then, there's a whole lotta tastin' going on. "We're really excited about the breakfast, which we could only do as a brunch before," Barnes says. "I'm the guinea pig right now for what Michael's been coming up with."

Barnes and Walker wound up at City Park after the current concessionaires, Aurora's International Food & Beverage Inc., owned by the folks who brought us the Bocaza Mexican Grill mini-chain, realized they knew more about burritos than full-service dining and decided to contract the job out.

International took over the concessions at City Park over a year ago, winning the contract away from Sharefkin Inc., which for four years had offered killer green chile at its El Curso Viejo. (Where else could a golf game end with a hole in gut?) Before that, from 1992 to 1997, Sam Taylor served his infamous barbecue and some of the best French fries ever at the Links. He's since moved on to Sam Taylor's Bar-B-Que, still going strong at 435 South Cherry Street. And the golf-course structure that had housed the Links was torn down, replaced with a bigger, better building that boasts a brick fireplace in the foyer and a full-sized bar. The new Petra's, which has a five-year contract with the city through International, will make good use of those facilities. A few non-New Orleans items like French fries and nachos will be added to keep the golfers happy -- but with a twist, to keep the proprietors happy. "Michael just had me taste an unbelievable jambalaya hotdog," Barnes says.

Walker's also testing out an osso buco and some steaks. Petra's original menu will be available too, of course, and Taylor's legacy of great golf-course French fries will live on, through Petra's super-sweet sweet-potato fries.


Sherry, baby: Goose Sorensen was going to go West, young man, when John Barocas, the owner of Ambrosia Bistro (5410 East Colfax Avenue), made him an offer he couldn't refuse. "John told me I could have free rein in re-creating Ambrosia," says chef Sorensen, who'd been doing some serious fly-fishing after leaving Mel's Restaurant and Bar (235 Fillmore Street) earlier this year. (Before that, he was chef at the now-defunct Starfish, at 300 Fillmore, now home to Campo de Fiori.) "I couldn't pass that up, because I had some ideas." He'd planned to take those ideas to San Francisco, but he'll now stay in town to cook for Solera, the new name for the gutted and remodeled Ambrosia. (Sorensen and Barocas have been doing most of the work themselves.)

Solera is the name of the vertical row of oak casks used to finish off sherries in Jerez, Spain, the world's sherry capital. The restaurant, which opened this week, will offer an extensive selection of sherries to pair with Sorensen's new, Mediterranean-bistro-style menu. "It'll be great to be cooking again after spending the last three weeks as 'Tool-Time Tim,'" Sorensen says.

A peek at the menu makes me think it'll be great to eat Sorensen's food again, too: Caesar salad topped with fried oysters, Colorado trout with a black-truffle-and-potato omelette, vegetarian lasagne with roasted-garlic béchamel and sage pesto.


Taste testy: Although Michael Bortzhas definitely left to start his own bakery, Denver Daily Bread(105 East Seventh Avenue), owner Scott Wagner insists that his Tasteez (9595 East Arapahoe Road, Englewood) is not for sale -- even though I've spoken with two people who toured the place under the assumption that they might be buying it (The Bite, November 22).

"It's not for sale," Wagner insists. "I want you to print that it's not for sale."

Hey, you got it.

 
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