By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
The kitchen does nothing to make them look wing-like; there's no bone — so critical with real wings, since it serves as a meat-handle for eating and dipping in blue cheese dressing. Then again, WaterCourse doesn't offer blue cheese dressing with its "wings," but rather a side of vegan ranch that tastes kind of like chive yogurt and in all ways is just nasty and wrong. Although the slabs of seitan are fried in an attempt to give them the proper texture, chicken skin is what gives real wings their beautiful, golden, crispy bite. Here the skin is replaced with breading, which (since seitan is made with nothing more than the protein goo left over from soaking flour) is rather like breading bread. And while, with my eyes closed, I could almost, kinda, sorta make myself think that a mouthful of gummy, insoluble gluten felt a little like a mouthful of chicken, even that lie lasted only for a second. After that, it just tasted like chewing clotted wallpaper paste.
The Buffalo tofu sandwich was a little better, because tofu is an actual food (as opposed to seitan, which is what's left over when the real food has been rendered down to goop), and WaterCourse put its tofu — again, breaded and fried — on an excellent roll. And the complicated, flavorful sauce that had Warner so hot and bothered worked well as a counterpoint, elevating fairly bland fried tofu to the level of an interesting sandwich. But with the "wings," the same sauce was where the flavor began and ended — because unlike chicken, seitan has no flavor. It just...is.
My order of breaded bread put me in the mood for some proper wings from somewhere that knows the best thing a chicken could ever be is dinner. And so, with that in mind, I headed straight back to the Goat.
Leftovers: Those of you (like me) still mourning the loss of Somethin' Else to the vicissitudes of the restaurant industry and its chef/owner Sean Kelly to the chain-exec lifestyle (he's been overseeing kitchen ops for Mark Berzins's Little Pub Company), take heart. I got news late last week that he's found a new house to call home.
It has no name yet and no solid opening date, but it's definite: Kelly will be moving into the former home of the North Star Brewery (3200 Tejon Street), where he's going into business with Joe Vostrejs and Jeff Hermanson of the Larimer Square gang. Together they'll create "the kind of place where, if you want to come in with the kids at five o'clock, that's fine. If you want to come in at nine with some friends for a drink, that's fine. If you want to just sit and have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper, that's fine, too," says Vostrejs. In other words, a real neighborhood joint, though one with a good wine list and (one would assume) exceptional grub.
I spent a long time talking with both Kelly and Vostrejs about the deal and the restaurant that will (eventually) come out of it. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details, check out the post "Back in Business: Sean Kelly" on the Cafe Society blog at westword.com.