By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
What should the role of a reviewer be? Hopefully Westword hired someone outside of Colorado — someone who has no connections or relationships and no bias, but does have high expectations. I hope it's someone with a strong knowledge of food, wine and hospitality, and I hope it's someone who will give it to us straight and remain anonymous. We can only get better as a food community if these are the standards. I know we're all striving to make sure Denver is on the food map and stays there.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: The most interesting development on the food scene this year has actually been taking place for the last five years, with Denver attracting better chefs, restaurateurs, cooks and mixologists. For those who have been here longer than five years, we are educating ourselves and improving the quality of restaurants and the quality of experiences we offer. Look around downtown: You can go to so many places now and have a great meal. Oh, and of course there's the Squeaky Bean, which is definitely showing its potential of what it's capable of doing in a real restaurant space.
Favorite restaurant in town: Vesta Dipping Grill. Matt Selby, Brandon Foster and the crew continually crank out awesome food. I love sauces with my food, and Vesta never ceases to amaze me with the creative accompaniments for my grilled duck breast. The setting is awesome, too, and the service is always done with a smile and never any attitude.
What should the role of a reviewer be? Review restaurants with a non-biased attitude. Everyone deserves a fair chance, even if you don't like the particular cuisine or you think the owner/chef is a complete asshole. I also think that the new reviewer should really write about the experience of that moment, not carry on about all the nostalgia of past experiences of when they used to do something important in a restaurant. We're counting on you to do the job at hand — so do it.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: This city has definitely grown with wonderful new places to eat and new chefs at established restaurants. And we're seeing cool things like old motor homes being lifted onto the rooftop patio at Linger, which has a great view in the city. And we're seeing a community of farmers and gardeners coming together to really make Colorado a sustainable state. Our Colorado wine has really started to take off, too, with simply amazing blends and full flavors.
Bistro Vendome/Rioja/Euclid Hall
Favorite restaurant in town: Squeaky Bean. The menu and space is progressive and well thought out but not trendy, the service is fun and spot-on, the wine list is eclectic and has interesting choices, and I love cheese — and that cheese cart is great.
What should the role of a reviewer be? A restaurant reviewer should explore new restaurants, revisit older ones and keep current on food trends without being too trendy. They should be anonymous, keep their comments professional, remark on service — good and bad — and include everything from bar service to the attitude of the hostess. They should evaluate all areas of a restaurant — not just the kitchen.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: Beer dinners and local breweries are killing it, and the prevalence of street food turned gourmet just keeps expanding, which is cool.
Wynkoop Brewery/Ghost Plate & Tap
Favorite restaurant in town: While Bittersweet is my favorite restaurant in Denver, I'm craving a meal at twelve, and things just are jelling quickly enough for me to get in there. I see a lot of similarities in the thoughtful qualities of both Jeff Osaka and Olav Peterson's food. I truly appreciate the little things, especially when done with purpose. Olav definitely does that, and I get the same feeling whenever I see the new menus roll out at twelve.
What should the role of a reviewer be? The reviewer should really take into consideration the fact that we as a whole are trying to promote Denver as a food-centric city. While I don't expect every review to be warm and cuddly, I think the days of trashing a restaurant into submission are long gone, something that Westword, although not lately, has been known for. It's a critique, not a stoning.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: Food carts. Not the trucks, but the actual food stands on the 16th Street Mall. True, there's some extremely mediocre (at best) food coming out of some of them, but there are some real winners, too.
Beatrice & Woodsley
Favorite restaurant in town: Right now, Señor Burrito. It's close, family-owned, and there are no surprises. It's great for a nice, quick taco fix.
What should the role of a reviewer be? As a chef and consumer, all I expect from a reviewer/critic is a fair and objective look at a restaurant. No agendas, favorites or axes to grind.