By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
Spies like us: The New York Timestravel section gave Denver the full-page treatment on July 20. But in case you missed it, here's a twenty-word recap: Denver is no longer a cowtown; man, they make a lot of beer here; and don't call the new mayor "Hick." (Why not?)
Author Dyan Zaslowsky, who lives in Denver, also had some kind words for a few local restaurants: namely, Sushi Den (1487 South Pearl Street), Indigo (250 Josephine Street), Adega (1700 Wynkoop Street), the Market (1445 Larimer Street) and Rialto Cafe (934 16th Street).
But the ink was hardly dry on that piece when I got word that Times restaurant critic Eric Asimov had been dropped into the heart of our fair metropolis for a whirlwind tour of this town's best restaurants. Like a teenage girl stalking her favorite Backstreet Boy, I made a few frantic phone calls to find out where he was staying, got a phone number and asked him if he wanted to go grab a beer.
Surprisingly, he did. And thus did the award-winning Times critic sit down with the award-winning critic of this here fish wrap, and we spoke about foodie things for about a half hour before we each had to go and eat Italian food somewhere else. Now, I'm not about to blow the surprise and tell you which places he hit while he was in town, nor will I reveal the location where we met. But I will say this: Asimov was just as surprised as I was to discover the depth and breadth of Denver's culinary scene. He appreciated the creative use of local ingredients and insisted that the Southeast Asian food available in the Rocky Mountain West wasn't just good for here, but great in comparison to anywhere he's been. Denver impressed him the same way it impressed me when I first hit town a year ago, and though he was hopping a flight back to the big city the next morning, he said he honestly wished he could have spent more time here.
So, yes, all you restaurant folks can breathe a bit easier. He's gone, back in New York writing the column that will run sometime soon in the travel section. Of course, I'm still here -- so don't get too comfortable....
Mail bag: The letter from Mark Zahn published in last week's paper that accused me (and fellow Westword scribe Stuart Steers) of being part of the "media titans" conspiracy was a classic. But it was quickly topped by a paranoid screed from one "John Abelard," allegedly responding to my review of Intrigue ("Weird Science," July 17). That's the restaurant Jeff Clearyopened last December at 275 South Logan Street, after closing his much-loved Cafe Bohemia and doing a brief stint at the Pinnacle Club (555 17th Street).
"I am a former employee of the Pinnacle Club," Abelard wrote, "and I know for a fact Jason Sheehan has been hanging out there and is a good friend of Dexter Nash, the general manager who despises Jeff Cleary and has been heard to say in front of employees that he's going to 'fix Jeff good.' I also know for a fact he told Jason that he'd give Jason 'free drinks forever' at the club if Jason would 'trash Jeff's new restaurant,' and that's exactly what he did. That review compromises the integrity of your whole review system and reflects on your entire publication. Who's going to read your reviews, or take your newspaper seriously, if they knew your reviewer is trashing restaurants not on the basis of the restaurant's merits, but simply because he is carrying out a personal vendetta for a friend and is standing to profit from it in the process?"
The truth is, I've never met Dexter Nash -- who had a good laugh when I called him to discuss our alleged friendship. "Look," he said, "I've got too much to do to focus on someone else's business. The sad thing about it is that, politically, that would be so stupid of me to do. I'd rather just earn an honest living and leave the rest of the world alone."
And not only have I never met Nash, I've never been to the Pinnacle Club! While I hear it's nice, if you knew me (and with all the writing I do about myself, you all should know me by now), you'd understand that it's simply not the kind of place where I'd "hang out."
And finally, free drinks for life? Frankly, I'm insulted that anyone would think that I'd whore myself to anyone so cheaply. I'm a fucking restaurant critic, you dolt. Westword's already buying my drinks.
As I said when I made my debut in these pages exactly a year ago, the only reason I'd give a restaurant a bad review would be for serving bad food. And if anythingabout the place is good -- if it's at least trying -- I'll always mention that, because in the course of my career I have ventured into very few places that were bad, nasty and evil from top to bottom. Good reviews go to the good guys. Bad reviews go to the bad guys. Simple as that. I am not for sale; I don't take bribes; I don't get treated like a king when I go out, because if I'm doing my job right no one knows it's me when I sit down to dine. I'm just a guy with a good nose, an educated palate and a rapidly expanding waistline whose opinions are his livelihood. I'm not part of any plot, cabal or secret society (unless you count my lifetime membership in the Robert Goulet fan club), and -- as yet -- I haven't been asked to join the International Zionist Media Conspiracy, as Zahn suggests -- but I'm still waiting, because I hear they have great dental benefits.