By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
Here's some stuff I hate:
People who can't drive and talk on their cell phones at the same time. I've got no problem with those who can do both skillfully -- but seriously, if talking with your mom, your psychic friend or the phone-sex operator is impairing your ability to drive in a straight line, get off the road.
Pomegranates used in any unnatural fashion -- which is defined as anything other than buying them, splitting them and eating the seeds in the comfort of your own home. For years, cooks have tried to come up with some new, wacky culinary use for one of the greatest, most misunderstood fruits on the planet; as of yet, no one has succeeded.
People who misuse the word "myriad."
Snotty, ill-mannered, arrogant "service" in any restaurant, but in particular, restaurants on what I consider my turf. You wanna live in Manhattan and be a dick, fine -- there's not much I can do about that (yet). But this is Colorado, and things are different here. For the record, let me just say that no local restaurant I've been to (and I've been to a lot of them) is so perfect that anyone has any right to look down their noses at any potential customer.
Actually, let me amend that. Frascais that perfect. But at Frasca, every person who comes through the door -- be they bum, dolt, douchebag, basket case, freak, moron or just plain folk -- is regarded as an honored guest. Honest to God, I've shown up half in the bag, in a wrinkled shirt and cheap junkie sunglasses, and been treated like the King of Spain.
My bad night in Boulder referenced in this week's Jewel of India review became a bad night specifically as a result of bad service. I'm not going to name the place -- that will happen soon enough, when its number comes up for a full-on review -- but I will say this: You never know who's walking into a restaurant. Seriously, you never know. This being Colorado, and Colorado being what it is, the odds are good that the guy in the ripped jeans and the baseball hat is a millionaire who's going to drop $1,500 on that '37 Giroud Volnay Burgundy. We have a blessed lack of pretension in our dining rooms, a blessed excess of talent in our kitchens, and there's simply no room that can get away with not catering to every paying, if unkempt, customer.
The reason I do this job anonymously is so that I will be treated like any old shnook walking in off the street. So here's a reminder for all you restaurant owners, maître d's, floormen, servers, captains and managers: I'm always out there testing you. I'm deliberately lurching up to your hostess stand looking like some lost member of the Mansonfamily just come crawling out of the desert. I'm arriving alone in a suit like a wayward businessman, mispronouncing things on the menu and demanding complicated changes in my entree. I'm rolling in surrounded by a big-ass gang of drunken dipshits and ordering one of everything on the menu. I'm coming to see what youcan do for me.
I don't expect the best table every night; I don't want special little snackies from the kitchen. If I wanted that kind of shit, I'd kill Anthony Bourdainand dress in his skin. What I want is to be treated like a guest, to be seated as well as possible and fed as well as the kitchen is able -- no matter how I look or who I have in tow. If you're honestly full to capacity, honestly overwhelmed at the bar, honestly on a wait, just tell me. Believe it or not, I love being turned away from a full house. Seeing a full house at any independent restaurant makes me happy. If the kitchen is running slow, if the fryers suddenly caught fire, if the chef just freaked out, shanked his grill man and fucked off for Mexico with the owner's sixteen-year-old daughter, tell me there's going to be a little bit of a delay on my cassoulet. I spent a lot of years in the business, and I'm gonna understand.
And most important, just remember that this is Colorado. No matter who you are, don't get to thinking you're too good for your area code. You're not. Your job is to serve -- in every good and decent sense of that word. And if you can't handle that, get the hell out of my industry.
On the avenue: There's more action on Sixth Avenue, with L'Asie Fusion Bistro moving into 603 East Sixth. The new owners are Andy Ho and May Giang, a husband-and-wife team with ten years in The Life. Ho (the cook) did time with Thai Basil and Ming Dynasty. Giang (who handles management and front-of-the-house) spent the past several years working with chef John Ye at John Holly's Asian Bistro (9232 Park Meadows Drive in Lone Tree). And it was Holly himself who helped the couple find a spot for their first restaurant: He owns the building where Emma'sused to be and where L'Asie is currently under construction.