By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Big Red F Restaurant Group
Your favorite restaurant in town: In Boulder, I like to eat at Oak at Fourteenth, Radda Trattoria, Sushi Zanmai, Marie's and, of course — and forever — my all-time favorite: Mustard's Last Stand.
What do you think the role of a reviewer should be? A reviewer should know what the fuck he or she is talking about. They should have experience in the restaurant business, understand the industry, and possibly have a bit of knowledge and craft to pull from so that he or she doesn't sound like a complete fucking idiot when they talk about, describe, or tear apart a dish that they have no understanding of. Industries as a standard usually require the person critiquing them to have some previous experience and knowledge of the business they are reviewing — and in most cases, they aren't respected if they don't. Except somewhere along the line, anyone who can make a reservation and properly hold a fork was given carte blanche in the hospitality industry to sometimes review a restaurant and talk about a chef's ability, or inability, to do his or her job. They are really just being asked to give an opinion — because at that point, that's all it is: an uneducated opinion.
Please. Get a food reviewer who has some experience. Who knows what the fuck he or she is talking about. And who has spent some time in the business, so that we can get back to really looking forward to food reviews, respecting what's being written, and finding some consistency and intelligence in the rankings and reviewing(s) of restaurants along the Front Range. It's the next step to Denver being taken even more seriously as an evolving food town.
What's been the most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year? Meat glue.
Your favorite restaurant in town: I'm a big fan of Fuel Cafe. I dig Bob Blair's creativity with local and seasonal foods and his commitment to organically raised foods. He understands, as well as anyone, that local and fresh really does taste better.
What do you think the role of a reviewer should be? Give kind reviews to my pizza. I'm kidding...kind of. The reviewer should give an honest, non-partial opinion of Denver's eateries — and promote Denver's arrival on the culinary scene. I'm sick of hearing people say that Denver lacks great restaurants. Are you kidding me? I've been in Denver for, well, forever, and it's come a long, long way in terms of culinary greatness.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: Beer — and lots and lots of it coming out of our amazing breweries. I like that beer is becoming the new wine and how well it pairs with...pizza.
Your favorite restaurant in town: I have many favorites, and it all depends on what kind of food I'm in the mood for. For tacos, it's El Taco de Mexico; for Vietnamese, it's New Saigon; for a totally local dinner, I love Potager; and I go to Euclid Hall for inventive pub fare. And those are just a few of my favorites. There are so many great restaurants in the city that I can't begin to list all the ones I love.
What do you think the role of a reviewer should be? A reviewer should objectively review our local eateries and then give us the highs and lows of the experience. It would also be awesome if the reviewer would help promote Denver chefs. We ain't a cowtown no more.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: It was — and is — the battle between the health department and chefs on food preparation.
Around the World in 80 Plates contestant
Your favorite restaurant in town: I love, love, love twelve. I think Jeff Osaka makes beautiful food, and I truly respect what he creates, not just within his kitchen and with his own hands, but also within the culinary community here in Denver. He works to foster the same things I believe in.
What do you think the role of a reviewer should be? A reviewer best serves its readers by offering an unbiased opinion of a restaurant experience after at least a few visits to the restaurant. I also love it when a reviewer offers me background on a restaurant's story and staff, as well as an accurate sense of what to expect when dining.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: The continued forward motion of our burgeoning culinary scene. It just gets better every year.
Your favorite restaurant in town: Squeaky Bean. I remember back about ten years ago, sitting around a campfire in Breckenridge, talking with Max MacKissock. He had a very clear vision of the restaurant he wanted to own and the career path he needed to take in order to make that happen. His ability to surround himself with talented, driven people who share the same goal of doing the best they possibly can has allowed him to open one of the best restaurants I've been to. The food is amazing food, and everyone who works there is kick-ass. It's nice to see good friends reap the success of their hard work, especially when it tastes so goddamn good.