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Bite Me

The Real Deal

Does GMO food frighten me? Not a bit. But PF Chang's and Applebee's give me the night sweats. Do I think that a rogue strain of engineered tomatoes will rise up one day and take over the world? No, but I certainly see the day when I take my future children and their friends out to Armando's (201 Milwaukee Street) or New York Pizzeria (4990 Leetsdale in Glendale) for a pizza, and the little rugrats refuse to eat it because it doesn't taste like the rubber bands and cardboard they get from the microwave or the delivery guy. I can envision a time when there are no more truffles, only truffle "essence" made with cheap oil and chemical aromatics; when kids only know raspberries as that blue shit they squirt into their Slurpees; and when not one person in a hundred has any idea what a real, ripe tomato, sun-warm and fresh off the vine, actually tastes like.

More fast talking:While I'm on the evils of fast food, here's a little mcnugget. Denver is one of the cities (along with Chicago and Raleigh, North Carolina) where McDonald's will be testing a new kiosk ordering system where customers can type their orders into a touch-screen computer, which will then transmit them straight to the kitchen. Cool, huh? This will someday replace the old- fashioned system of human contact and speech-based interaction that McDonald's has determined to be counterproductive in today's high-tech economy. The biggest problem with the current system? All those darn people it involves. No matter how hard the corporate trainers try, they just can't get their human employees to perform up to the rigorous standards of, say, robots. Human employees won't labor 24 hours a day, they won't work for free, and they keep wanting things like health insurance and job security and bathroom breaks. But this new system solves half of those problems right away, because customers will no longer be forced to interact with pimply-faced minimum-wage workers in silly costumes asking if they'd like fries with that, and McDonald's franchise owners will no longer have to pay anyone to wear a silly costume and ask if you want fries with that.

The target is to have the kiosks -- which are also capable of translating orders directly into Spanish for kitchens where English is not the language of choice -- in thirteen stores in both Denver and Raleigh just as soon as possible. And as a side note to those restaurant managers: Is there going to be a special section added to the employee manual about the extrication of McNuggets from the cash slot? Just something to think about...

Leftovers:The Parlour space at 846 Broadway will turn into the Minturn Saloon sometime this fall. Three blocks away, Cielo, the upscale Mexican restaurant at 1109 Lincoln Street did manage to open two weeks ago after some major delays in construction and minor troubles with its liquor license ("Bite Me," July 3). And it finally ironed out the last of its problems in time to debut the patio and patio bar last Tuesday -- just in time for those hundred-degree afternoons.

If the heat is too much for you, Red Square Euro Bistro, now open at 1512 Larimer Street, has sixty varieties of chilled vodka on the menu. The brainchild of former Little Russian Cafemanager Steve Ryan, Red Square has many former Little Russian staffers on the floor and Maxim Ionikh in the kitchen.

A fourth outpost for Heidi's Brooklyn Deliis going into a space in the 800 block of Colorado Boulevard, squished right between a Falafel Kingand the second Swing Thai. And the dismantling of Charlie's Bar (2627 South Parker Road in Aurora), which was crushed in that big March snowstorm, has finally begun. Signs out front promise that a new Charlie's is "coming soon," but I'll bet we see a resurrected Vinyl (1082 Broadway), another victim of that blizzard, before Charlie's returns.

Also recently among the missing: Tyler Wiard, top dog at the Fourth Story (2955 East First Avenue). Rumor had it that he simply didn't show up for his shift one day and hadn't been heard from in a week. But since there was another recent rumor floating around the industry not too long ago that I was dead -- a victim of either food poisoning or one too many Coronas -- I figured I'd better do some sleuthing.

Come to find out, Wiard had been absent from his post for about twelve days as of last weekend. But when I talked to Fourth Story general manager Terri Hannifin last Friday, she explained that Wiard was on "vacation," not AWOL. "We didn't know where he was going, and that was a little strange because when you're working so closely with someone, you kind of expect to know everything about their personal life," she said, adding that Wiard's leaving "wasn't necessarily scheduled, exactly, but it was sort of expected."

Apparently, the chef had been working very hard over the past year to keep things running smoothly at the Fourth Story, but with his one-year anniversary in the kitchen coming up, he and the management are in "the process of contract negotiations," according to Hannifin. "Tyler is taking some well-deserved time off, and we're looking forward to having him back."

Right.... In the meantime, Michelle Leslie-Brown is running the show in the back of the house and will do so until the chef-errant returns from his constitutional with a new contract in hand.

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