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Change has also been good for the five-year-old Dazzle (930 Lincoln Street). Since manager Donald Rossa and chef Jason Palmer-- both late of the Fourth Story (2955 East First Avenue) -- came on board last fall, the restaurant has gone to the next level, as has the bar. The marvelous martini alone is reason enough to drop by Dazzle: The drink arrives well-chilled, and it's so big that one is all you need.
930 Lincoln St.
Denver, CO 80203
Region: Out of Town
The best place to sip your martini is in the back lounge, where you can also play board games, snack on the complimentary cheese puffs (they come in a martini glass, too) and listen to the live jazz that Dazzle can offer now that the place has a cabaret license. And if the martini isn't your drink of choice, the beverage roster -- cleverly concealed within the jackets of old record albums -- includes the weird but strangely soothing Oatmeal Cookie, with Frangelico, Irish cream and cinnamon schnapps.
While Dazzle has always been a cool place to drink, last year at this time the dining room was starting to lag. Not anymore: Palmer, who spent three years working with Fourth Story chef David Steinmann (who has since gotten out of the business) and Chris Cina (who's now cooking for Bravo! Ristorante at 1550 Court Place in the Adam's Mark Hotel), is good at comfort food with a twist. So the risotto ($14), made with a hefty helping of concentrated chicken broth, is studded with lots of chicken that's as soft as the rice; a super-rich, béchamel-stuffed tortelloni ($16) comes awash in just enough white truffle oil and sprinkled with shavings of the black version of the coveted mushroom; the sweet-potato gratin beneath an impeccably grilled fillet of salmon carries the scent and flavor of cinnamon. And, of course, there's the macaroni and cheese ($10), rich with parmesan, Fontina, mozzarella and gouda, and very deserving of this year's Best of Denver award.
Although many of Dazzle's servers look as though they just graduated from high school, they're as smart and solicitous as staffers with twice their age and experience. Get in there and be dazzled yourself.
Buffaloed: Sometimes it takes more than a few changes to get things right, as Curt Sims has learned the hard way at the Denver Buffalo Company (1109 Lincoln Street). Sims and company bought the already waning restaurant from Will and Sue McFarlanein the fall of 2000, when the concept was ten years old; the new owners renovated the space, considered expanding the retail area (they even talked to Cry Baby Ranch about opening a store there), reworked the menu (dropping some of the higher-end buffalo items) and lowered prices to attract more business -- all to no avail. For the McFarlanes, who owned a ranch and still market buffalo meat wholesale as New West Foods, the Western theme made some sense; Sims, however, realized that it was long past time to say bye-bye to bison.
And so diners have only until Saturday to belly up for a last slice of that heavenly buff prime rib. But they won't be eating it under the watchful eye of Spot, the DBC's stuffed mascot; he's already been sold to the Blue Sky Grillin the Pepsi Center, the newest entry in Denver's big-game game. (Other eating options where the buffalo still roam: the Buckhorn Exchange, at 1000 Osage Street, and The Fortin Morrison.)
On Sunday, Sims will shut the restaurant's doors and start renovations to turn it into Cielo, which will serve upscale Mexican cuisine. If that sounds like the sort of fare you might find at Tamayo (1400 Larimer Street), it's no coincidence: Sims and his wife, singer Pam Savage, had envisioned a more high-end eatery when they planned Lime (1424 Larimer), but after Tamayo opened just a few hundred feet away and half a year earlier, the couple decided to focus on family-style dishes. In the process, they also created a space that recently earned Lime our salute as Best New Bar -- and helped propel Larimer Square to its current status as the hottest block in town, a reputation that was sealed with the debut of the Samba Room (1460 Larimer) back in March. (For one of the reasons the Samba Room is so hot, see page 74).
But there will still be plenty of action in the building that housed the DBC. During the restaurant's transformation, the Lincoln Loungewill be available for private parties, and the cool Star Line Lounge will continue to offer entertainment, including a Friday happy hour featuring the multi-talented Savage. And Lannie Garrett, whose Patsy DeCline and Gloria Half-Gaynor were big hits at the DBC, promises to return in the fall with her Big Band Swing Show.
Ch-ch-ch-changes: What used to be Pizza Colóre (1512 Larimer Street) is now Cafe Colóre. Venanzio Momo, whose brothers Carlo and Raoul own Teresa's Pizza Colóre (1124 13th Street) on the Hill in Boulder, has licensed the Writer Square location to Keith Arnold, a longtime corporate-level employee of Pizzeria Uno and Houlihan's. Arnold found out that the pizza shop was available from his friend, Dan Shaffer, who not long ago bought Pizza Colóre Express (1547 Court Place) off the 16th Street Mall.
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