By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
In the restaurant business, the holiday season goes one of two ways. Either it's all quiet on the Western front, complete with men in the trenches and hastily whispered prayers, or it's a last-minute flurry of chaotic action — an eleventh-hour push to get open, get set, get closed or get moved in advance of the onslaught.
This year it's the latter. We've had chef changes and name changes, openings and sudden closures, panic from some owners hit by the double sledgehammer of a weak fall season compounded by the curse of the Rockies (whose World Series run did great things for places like the Wynkoop Brewing Co. and any bar within stumbling distance of the ballpark, but not much for fine-dining establishments beyond that area) and elation from others because the shopping season is shaping up to be a decent one and all those hungry families have to eat somewhere.
This week, chef Alex Gurevich (the man behind Limón and Cafe Bisque) finally opened his third restaurant, the Arvada Grill, at 5601 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard. After some minor delays over Thanksgiving, Gurevich had test dinners for friends and family last weekend, then opened to the public on Monday — an event that brought in "the mayor and, like, half the city of Arvada," he told me. "Nothing like being in the limelight, right? I just kinda want to hide in the kitchen."
1634 18th St.
Denver, CO 80202
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Downtown Denver
Unlike the complicated (and supply-intensive) Novoandino cuisine featured at Limón and the French/Italian/New American modernism at Bisque, the fare at Gurevich's new restaurant is straight-up American: hand-cut steaks, simple fish, rotisserie-chicken pot pies and comfort foods of all description. It's a wide-ranging menu and a deliberate attempt at being all things to all people in a neighborhood short on such endeavors. But while Gurevich is proud of the menu and the kitchen he's set up to produce it, he's equally pleased that the dining room is family-friendly, making the Arvada Grill the perfect place for Mom and Dad to kick back with a glass of wine and salmon steak while junior tears into a hot dog.
But getting to this point wasn't easy. Apparently, Gurevich didn't anticipate the amount of work involved in opening the Arvada Grill. "Once they start scaling up, I don't know," he said, and paused. "I'm amazed at what it takes." He's still training the new crew and overseeing the new menu, but since it's the holiday season, he's also doing private catering at people's houses. And he's visiting his other restaurants at least once a day — tasting and testing, cracking the whip and pitching in wherever necessary. "I'm still pretty intimate with my stock and my everything," he said (and I didn't even make any jokes). "And there's a fine line where you get spread too thin and everything goes in the crapper."
It's that fine line that Gurevich is trying very hard not to cross. Earlier, he'd told me that he wanted to open a fourth restaurant, a raw-foods joint that he'll call Naked. But for now, he said, those plans are on hold, because "it feels like I'm getting an ulcer or something."
Doom with a view: No big surprise that Euro (231 Milwaukee Street) has finally bit the dust. It's been a long time coming, and I don't think anyone really thought that this incarnation — the space once held the Bay Wolf, then Manhattan Grill, then Steak Au Poivre, then a singular entity called Euro, then a split affair with Euro, the restaurant, on one side and Bar Luxe, a lounge, on the other — would make it.
The kitchen at Euro was once commanded by chef Olav Peterson (ex of 1515), who then turned it over to his sous, Marc Carmean. I figured the end was near when I reported a couple of weeks back that Carmean was going to work for Eric Laslow at the new Iron Mountain Winery at 235 Fillmore Street (formerly Mel's and just a hop, skip and a jump from Euro). And now it's a done deal: Euro est morte. According to the message on its answering machine, the restaurant space is currently being used for private holiday parties, and the Bar Luxe side is still up and running.
Meanwhile, over at 1515 (1515 Market Street), owner Gene Tang has a new chef: Chris Long (ex of Charlie Trotter's in Chicago) has replaced Ulises Salas (who moved on to a post at the Broadmoor) and already revamped the menu for the second-floor space that's now known as Upstairs at 1515 to differentiate it from the bar and lounge on the first floor. "It's the same place, but we have improved the upstairs quite a bit," Tang explains. "Some people walk in here and see the downstairs; they think it's just a bar. So I call it Upstairs to let them know that they can go upstairs for a more fine-dining meal."
That's where Long is serving "contemporary American cuisine with a bit of a Southern accent," Tang says. Which translates to shrimp and grits, slow-cooked pork belly and sweet-potato gnocchi to go along with 1515's $65 five-course tasting menu and more standard board of chicken, fish and steaks.