Denver Restaurant Week, Day 1

Denver Restaurant Week, Day 1 (an eyewitness report from Patricia Calhoun)

Saturday, February 24: The numbers are staggering. Restaurants participating in the third annual Denver Restaurant Week, which starts tonight, are booked solid. At Prime 121, a Cherry Creek steakhouse that hasn't exactly been packing them in, they have reservations for more than 300. Downtown, the Palm expects to serve well over 500. Even steakhouses that aren't participating are jammed with the overflow.

The Out-of-Towners and I finally slide into our booth at the Palm sometime after 9 p.m., after a congenial wait in the crowded bar. This is the Palm's third year in Denver Restaurant Week, and it's wildly popular; it's not often that you can get dinner for two here for $52.80 — even if only one of those entrees can be the twelve-ounce New York strip. But the Out-of-Towners, who are in the process of moving from New York to San Francisco, don't care about Denver Restaurant Week; they just love the Palm, any Palm.

And this night, a lot of people love Denver's Palm, where the valet area is packed, the lobby is packed, the bar is packed, every table is packed, and every staffer works hard to stay calm through the chaos that started before five -- the Palm even opened twenty minutes early to accommodate the crunch. The mahi mahi was gone by 6:30; the kitchen replaced it was salmon. But there is still steak. The New York strip offered in the DRW deal is fine, but the Out-of -Towners do not love the Palm for its parsimony.

So before we're done, our table holds not just the two DRW entrees, but a side of spinach, of beans, of onion rings and chips, and a big, big filet served a perfect medium rare/rare. There are no leftovers, but the Out-of-Towners do take the desserts included in the DRW deal -- cheesecake and chocolate cake -- on the road the next morning.

Here in Denver, the adventure is just beginning. -- Patricia Calhoun

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