By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
I've gone back to The Q Worldly Barbeque a few times since my review meals — not for barbecue, but for the incredible corn fritters off the dessert menu. While I would like to see some corn bread up on that board as well, these are a good consolation prize: nothing more than balls of corn dough, studded with the occasional whole kernel of sweet corn, tossed into a super-hot Friolator and deep-fried until they're golden and sweet and lacy with greasy filigree. They crunch on the surface, are soft and pillowy inside, and come dusted in confectioner's sugar like some kind of crazy, only-in-the-West funnel cake. I hadn't even noticed them on my first visit, so fixated was I on the 'cue, got an order on my second time through — and devoured them like a fat kid facing down a dozen glazed doughnuts. I've since returned for two more orders and can say with supreme confidence that while I am very appreciative of the Carolina tidewater sauce and dry-rubbed pork shoulder at the Q, I now fantasize about the place because of its corn fritters.
Sad, but true.
The next-best thing on the Q's board that has nothing to do with barbecue is the whiskey. The joint has an impressive bar, set off to the right, running down the long wall back toward the stage. And that bar is stocked with an Irishman's dream of whiskeys, Scotches and bourbons. Not only are the tenders there packing bottles of Red Breast (super-awesome, high-end Jameson label), but also John Powers (double-super-awesome lowbrow sippin' whiskey that was overlooked for many years, classed among the bum liquors just because it'll give you a hangover like a mule kick to the head if you are intemperate in your consumption). There's also Bushmills and Tullamore Dew for you iconoclasts in the crowd, Jameson — regular and twelve-year — and Connemara for those looking for something different. And that's just the Irish contingent. The call bourbon list is as long as my arm (and includes, most notably, the ultra-light Basil Hayden's, single-barrel Blanton's, Sazerac rye and Gentleman Jack for anyone who wants to drink like my grandfather), and the scotch board is even longer — filled with a bunch of bottles that I know nothing about.
2817 E. 3rd Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
Region: Central Denver
A perfect meal at the Q? A half-pound of pork shoulder, gotten fairly early in the evening (it seems better the earlier you order it), slathered with an ounce or two of tidewater sauce, chased with two shots of John Powers Irish, neat, and finished off with a plate of corn fritters and a Basil Hayden's on the rocks.
Sound good? Yeah, I'll race ya...
Burgertime: Down at 1890 South Pearl Street, Park Burger finally opened this past weekend. God knows we've been eagerly awaiting this first kinda-solo venture by Frank Bonanno's main man, Jean-Philippe Failyau, particularly since the original, blindly optimistic opening date was in February.
The menu is simple: burgers, specialty burgers (like the Frenchy with brie and ham), regular fries, sweet-potato fries and shakes. On page two, there's the booze — good beer (everything from PBR cans to bottles of Corona to Belgian Kriek and Barbar) and fine wines that can't help but recall that closing scene from Sideways. A fat burger, onion rings and a '61 cheval blanc? Miles made that look good. And I, for one, am looking forward to trying to replicate his particular brand of crushing ennui with an order of sweet-potato fries, a double Parkburger, bloody rare, and an Argentine malbec. A little low-rent, maybe, but then so is my world-weariness.
When Bonanno (with Failyau's help) got Bones open at 701 Grant Street at the very end of last year, he was following in the footsteps of several other big-name chefs who were going the noodle-bar route, mostly on the East and West coasts. With the burger thing, Failyau is going down yet another well-trod path. For the past half-dozen years, a lot of fairly famous guys have decided to throw off the chains of fine-dining oppression (read: high food costs) and simplify their lives (read: make more money) by opening little burger shacks. Bobby Flay has done it. Michel Richard in D.C., Tim Love in Fort Worth. Daniel Bolud opened DB Bistro Moderne in 2001 (serving a $27 burger stuffed with short-rib meat and foie gras — not exactly a burger shack), and both Kellers (Thomas and Hubert) have burger bars opened or opening. Even Eric Ripert has a burger on the menu at his new(ish) Westend Bistro in Washington — inspired, according to an interview in Gourmet, by the burgers at McDonald's and Burger King.
All of which puts Failyau in some pretty good company. And Denver will always have room for one more great burger bar.
Leftovers: The big question was always how Ruth's Chris could stay open, since there were so many better steakhouses within a few blocks of its location at 1445 Market Street. But now the only question is who will be opening in that space next, because Ruth's Chris closed last week. For more details, see our Cafe Society blog. That's where you'll also find an early scouting report on Troy Guard's TAG, which opened as promised on May 18, just a block away from the Ruth's Chris space at 1441 Larimer Street.