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Bite Me

In the Suds

Back up in Boulder, Sherpa's Restaurant and Traveler's Lounge(825 Walnut Street) is now open and will host a grand-opening party sometime later this month. The restaurant, owned by Pemba Sherpa (himself a Himalayan mountain guide and frequent visitor to places in excess of 20,000 feet above sea level), will feature authentic Nepali, Indian and Thai food served either as "sample portions" (for one) or "family style" (for many). The Traveler's Lounge will also feature maps, books and artifacts of Sherpa culture, and while Pemba plans to someday open a Sherpa museum in the area, for now he promises to donate 10 percent of his profits to the Himalayan Explorers Club, a nonprofit group based in Boulder.

Russian Palace debuted earlier this month in the lower level of 1800 Glenarm Place, in the former digs of Vartan's Jazz Club. Empty since Vartan Tonoian closed the doors in May, the space has been reinvented (and remodeled) as an upscale, traditional Russian restaurant with a full bar, live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays, a dress code after 6 p.m., and chef Sali Nasimov serving the spicy, Eastern Russian cuisine he grew up with in addition to your classic beet-and-potatoes Iron Curtain comfort food. The Palace is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with weekend hours until 2 a.m., and while jazz fans still miss Vartan's, at least it wasn't replaced by another contemporary Latin/Asian/French fusion sushi bar and fish taco stand. Or a Starbucks.

Tommy's Thai (3410 East Colfax Avenue) -- a longtime favorite with Capitol Hill residents, as well as Thai-food lovers who live much farther afield -- has reopened after a remodel that should have been done in August but somehow stretched on until the beginning of October. I called to see how things were going, and if the roar of the crowds in the background were any indication, things are going just fine. When I started asking questions, whoever I'd gotten on the phone actually apologized, said he was very busy, requested that I call back in a few hours and then hung up on me. Frankly, this was totally understandable behavior for a man with a full house on his hands -- and not rude at all considering that I was just being nosy. What surprised me was that the place was rocking so hard at two on a Friday afternoon.

Roy's (3000 East First Avenue), which keeps drawing crowds to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center with its unique Hawaiian-fusion menu of Pacific rim and Asian flavors, has added Yamaguchi sushi to the lineup. Chef Amy Yamaguchi (owner Roy Yamaguchi's cousin and former sushi chef at Sushi Zanmai in Boulder) offers new twists and tastes to classic sashimi, nigiri and maki rolls, adding ingredients from around the globe, including avocado and truffle. Throw in Yamaguchi's formal training in both the fine arts and classical sushi presentation, and you get an eclectic eating experience that goes to show that when I start bitching about how the word "fusion" is overused these days, I should really just shut up and eat more.

The Irish Hound is set to open any day now in the old Fu Lin Cafe space at 575 St. Paul Street (don't let all that plywood over the windows fool you). Chris and Lisa Carley(a former bartender at the Cherry Cricket) have purchased the second Cherry Tomato (at 5575 East Third Avenue; the original East 23rd Avenue location remains unchanged) and plan to convert it into the Hillcrest Grill, your basic all-American neighborhood spot. The menu will feature burgers, steaks and pasta -- the three basic food groups of American dining, the fourth being chocolate -- and have hired Dave Gombar (recently of Piatti's) to manage the kitchen. Look for Hillcrest to open sometime around the end of the month.

Farther from home, Chap's Grill and Chophouse --Vail's only four-diamond place for steak -- has a new menu to go along with its new executive chef, Michael Beck, who came on board in May. It's a big menu, and I'm not going to try to squeeze it all in here, but how's this for a sampler? Portobello fries; plateau de fruits de mer with ahi sashimi, crab legs, chilled oysters and shrimp, lemon, wasabe and ponzu; onion gratinée; harissa-glazed ahi tuna with roasted jalapeño-lime vinaigrette; grilled venison chops with chanterelle risotto; pepper overload with a pepper-crusted hanger steak in peppercorn-brandy sauce; a 35-day dry-aged, bone-in ribeye; and Key lime pie served with coconut sorbet. Damn, that makes me hungry...

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