My recent musings about the archetypal Denver restaurant,"You Are Where You Eat
," inspired several people to send in their own tastes of Denver. Here's the slightly ball-obsessed response from Christine Sipple:
Well, you might be right -- finding a restaurant that truly speaks to you in this city could be about balls, but I don't need to have them in my mouth, or even on the menu. It's enough to have them in your face in the way of a chef/owner who has the culinary talent, charisma and creative vision to do it all her way and succeed year after year on the strength of her food and reputation, not riding the wave of a massive PR campaign or culinary fad.
Ask any of the fiercely loyal patrons of Aix what keeps them coming through the door once a month, once a week - or in some cases, once a day - and every single one of them will immediately come up with the same answer: It's the food. Period. Don't stop there -- spend a few hours at the bar and dig a little deeper.
You'll find out that one person might be a happy-hour regular, another a Sunday brunch devotee who is trying out a wine dinner for the first time, a young couple on a first date and another celebrating a 25th anniversary. Someone entertaining clients from out of town. A group of friends whose night out always begins with a martini or glass of wine at the copper bar.
Rachel Woolcott has created an environment that is difficult to find at an ANY restaurant in ANY city - a place with always delicious food and great wine that is also so many different things to so many different kinds of people. And pulling it off in a beautifully intimate space on the same night, night after night.
By living the very definition of a bon vivant, Rachel infuses the experience at Aix with that energy, and guests quickly become regulars and then friends. It's the only place in Denver that I can recommend over and over again without a shred of trepidation. Go out in other cities and occasionally run across a place that might remind you of Aix, but never one that duplicates the spirit, brilliance and warm embrace that makes walking through the door like coming home.
It is the very (often) blue-jean-wearing, (sometimes) Spanish- speaking, (always) better-than-expected mix of excellence and nonchalance with strong drinks and foie gras that you're looking for when your friends come to town.
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Just save the bull testicle-stuffed one-pound burrito smothered in green chile taste of Denver for another time and start looking for something that satisfies your quest for the flavor of Denver with a bit more style . . . and leaves a more pleasant taste in your mouth."
Yes, Christine may be a bit obsessed over my whole balls reference, but she makes a good point: Your favorite Denver restaurant should be the place you recommend over and over to friends coming in from out of town. It should be the place where you feel most comfortable being yourself, where you would go both for a first date or a 25th anniversary.
There are a lot of great Denver restaurants out there. So speak up, folks: Tell me which one typifies dining in Denver for you. -- Jason Sheehan