By Jonathan Shikes
By Alex Brown
By Cafe Society
By Samantha Alviani
By Lori Midson
By Mark Antonation
By Loren Lorenzo
By Nate Hemmert
Justin Brunsonbr>Old Major
Favorite restaurant in town: Twelve is one of the best. Jeff does a great job using local seasonal ingredients and doesn't get nearly enough recognition. It also has a great room to dine in.
What should the role of a reviewer be? It would be cool to see a food critic who's not worried about being blunt and not afraid to admit that what they're eating sucks. I feel like a lot of restaurant reviews are sugarcoated when they should be more truthful.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: It's been cool to see the boom that we're having in Denver with all the new places opening. Now if we could just get more local farmers to work with us.
Favorite restaurant in town: Pizzera Basta, in Boulder. It's out of the way, which is at the same time good and bad (good if you don't want to be seen, bad because I would eat there way more often if it wasn't in BFE). But they're turning food that's as good as — or better than — anywhere else in Boulder. Denver's harder to pin, but I'm a massive fan of Fruition and anything Alex Seidel does, and I also love Sushi Den and everything that Yasu does.
What should the role of a reviewer be? The role of a restaurant reviewer is to do just that: review. They should always go at least three times before making a judgment, and they should talk about every aspect of the experience. I really appreciate knowing about the highs and lows, and I really like it when they show a few pictures of the food. I don't want to read a bunch of stuff about the writer's life experiences; I want to know why I will — or won't — love going there.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: The amazing success of Linger. I can't think of a better example of "killing it" in the restaurant business. Root Down is a fantastic place, but when Linger opened, Justin Cucci showed us all just how good he really is at doing what he does.
Favorite restaurant in town: Star Kitchen for shumai on a Sunday is all I need. I love going with a big group and seeing the look on the faces of the cart-pushing ladies when I order six to eight orders of shumai right off the bat. You get the VIP treatment from that point on. I always order two Tsing Taos, though, because they're quick with the food but slow with the drinks. It's a social dining experience that I love to introduce to friends. Just make sure if you go that you have a strong person on your anchor seat, or those adorable little cart ladies will own your table. They're the best salespeople in the world, because it's not their responsibility to sell you on an item; it's your responsibility to stop them from just giving it to you. Love them.
What should the role of a reviewer be? A reviewer should be hungry, open-minded and objective, and they need to have a strong respect for the industry they serve and the readers who take their words to heart. They should also be head over heels in love with my restaurant.
Most interesting development on the restaurant scene this year: Meatballs! Well, in my scene, at least. I've seen the emergence of more chefs turning their attention to fast-casual, no-fuss and affordable concepts. I think we spend so much time trying to make food into more than it needs to be, when sometimes food should be a work of art and other times it should just feed people. More chefs are really embracing the notion of giving people what they actually want. Rather than fighting the fact that people want simple, flavorful food quickly, they're bringing just a bit more thoughtfulness to making food fast. "Food fast" is much different from "fast food," and that's a great thing.
Favorite restaurant in town: I have a lot of favorites, so it's kind of like picking between your children. They all have different qualities that you look for on different occasions. ChoLon, Sushi Den, Squeaky Bean, twelve, Table 6, Park Burger, Lao Wang Noodle House and Front Room Pizza are just a few of my favorites, but I guess if I had to pick just one, it would be the one I frequent most often: Sushi Den. I need to eat healthier, and if I'm going to eat healthy, I want to eat food that has pure, clean and fresh flavors. The sushi, the rice and the fish that's coming out of that kitchen are the most consistent in town, and I've also had the opportunity for many conversations with Toshi over sake and noodles. I truly respect him as a chef and business owner. He's shared many stories of his past with me — and what drives him as a chef and what's in his heart is far greater than I think I will ever possess.