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The Bite

After a year on the outside, Sean Kelly is back in the kitchen.

The space jazzes him, too. "It sounds kind of corny, but I've loved this building since I moved to Denver," he admits. "On my darkest days at Aubergine, I'd drive home some nights, and I'd just pull over and look into the darkened windows, thinking about what it would be like to call it my own."

Now he'll know.


Ch-ch-ch-changes: Funny how a top restaurant will trumpet its opening, sending out ten trees' worth of press releases heralding its good points -- and then, when the chef departs, not a whisper.

Turns out that James Mazzio has exited Triana (1039 Pearl Street, Boulder), allegedly to work on "product development" for an unknown company. The talented chef left no forwarding address behind, and the fact that his cell-phone number has been disconnected leads me to believe that he's not in this area anymore. No one at Triana would tell me where Mazzio had gone, although they did reveal that Mazzio's sous chef, Corey Smith, has taken over the kitchen. There have been a few minor menu changes, too, but Triana staffers assure me the tapas are still terrific. Put it in a press release, would ya?

Another one of my favorite haunts, albeit one much less known, has been Maruti (12200 East Cornell Avenue, Aurora), a cute little coffeehouse that did vegetarian Indian food on the side (in 1996, the combo earned Maruti a Best of Denver award). Now the place has turned into a full-fledged restaurant and changed its name to Maruti Narayan's Restaurant. Yes, that's the same Narayan who used to own the fondly remembered Narayan's Nepal Restaurant at 1124 Pearl Street in Boulder. Narayan Shrestha is the brother-in-law of Bidsya KC, who owns the eatery with her husband, Assim KC; together they've come up with a roster of traditional foods from all over India. Check out the $6.95 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.

Restaurants will be springing up in LoDo this spring. The new building at 19th and Wynkoop streets is devoting its top floors to high-end condos; the ground floor will be home to The Keg Steakhouse & Bar, a "casual, contemporary steakhouse" out of Vancouver. Founded in 1971, the chain now has more than eighty outlets; the LoDo spot is expected to open sometime in April. With no white linens (the look is river-rock-filled lodge) and no nauseating concept, the Keg has a better chance of surviving in the fickle ballpark area than did Alice Cooper'stown, the first restaurant casualty of the new year (pieces of Alice's were auctioned off on Tuesday).

A month after the Keg starts pouring, Adega will open for business two blocks away, in the space at 1700 Wynkoop that was first Sostanza and then Señorita's Cantina. The wine-focused eatery has a Portuguese theme (the name means "aboveground wine cellar" in that language) and chef Bryan Moscatello, who wowed diners during his stint at the Little Nell in Aspen. The wine list has been assembled by master sommelier Kenneth Frederickson, formerly of Spago and Charlie Trotter's, and Denver's esteemed Semple Brown redid the space, which was already cool.

These days it's here a fireman, there a fireman, everywhere a fireman -- but who's complaining? Denver's own will be serving lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery (1001 16th Street) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. February 21 as part of a fundraiser for local firefighters. And at 6 p.m., Fire Chief Ale will make its debut, with a portion of its sales through March 11 going to a fund for families of New York firefighters.

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