From Bistro One to Katie Mullen's, restaurants keep opening. And closing.
After Olav Peterson and I took apart Bistro One's menu all CSI-style, I learned that it will soon be changing. Come early March, Bistro One will head into spring with a lighter, cleaner board that will take it even further from its Froggish roots. "We're really just truly an American bistro," Olav explained, though this restaurant is an "American bistro" in only the most modern sense — meaning that, as an American chef cooking for American audiences now accustomed to a mishmash of cuisines, he's free to roam around the globe, getting his peasant kicks wherever he can.
This will translate into shrimp risotto and kalamata olive risotto (playing off a weird dessert on his list now — a lemon/olive oil cake with candied black olives — that I never got to try because it was sold out both times I visited), baked Caprese salad served inside a spring tomato, blackened sea bass over a smoked shellfish salad. He's never been thrilled with the fettuccine with Kobe meatballs in arrabbiata sauce that's on his current menu, but felt "obligated to keep it," since that was the plate that was pictured when he got his Best New Restaurant nod from 5280 this fall. Come the new season, though, all bets are off, and he'll be dumping it in favor of a new, handmade fettuccine made with parsley juice and served with pork belly, spring peas and a poached egg.
"Like a carbonara, sort of," he said. "You get it?"
I did, and then he and I went on to talk about how, after everything that's happened in the past ten months — after the departure of his sous, the good press, the complaints, the massive surge in business and replacement of maybe 50 percent of his crew over the holiday season — he's just now starting to feel like his guys are coming up off their heels and getting their balance back. "We're starting to get organized again," he told me, explaining how, by the time he's done, no part of the menu will be untouched, and more than half of it (including almost all of the entrees) will be brand-new. "That will allow us to push things further," Olav concluded. "And I'm excited about the new menu. After all of this, it'll be like starting fresh. That'll be nice."
Open and shut cases: We here at Bite Me World Headquarters are working hard to stay on top of the restaurant industry news — a challenging task in these uncertain times. Our highly trained staff of monkeys is already reporting breaking developments on the Cafe Society blog; now we're going to start summarizing the openings and closings right here at the end of every month.
For starters, two weeks ago we lost Ha Noi Pho, the restaurant at 1036 South Federal Boulevard that served great Vietnamese breakfasts and was also the site of a dramatic police shootout in the fall of 2007. But the address didn't lose a day of business: The new owners stepped right in, changing the name to Can Tho Pho but keeping much of the menu — for now. Also changing hands, but not names, was the Mozart Lounge, at 1417 Krameria Street; changing names but not hands was 5280 Steak House (the spot at 1480 Arapahoe Street that was Gallagher's until last fall); it's now Hickory Prime Steak House, and its sibling next door, at 1040 15th Street, also has a new name: Le Chateau, a switch from La Fondue.
Other restaurants/watering holes that have closed in 2009, in roughly the order they disappeared: The Continental Club (right after last call on January 1), Cebiche (it's rumored to be moving, but no new location has been announced), the Recovery Room, Cafe Etoile, Maxwell's, Pizzeria Mundo, the downtown Pulcinella, Macaroni Grill in Cherry Creek, Aix (the space will reopen under new owners as Olivea in May), Blackberries Bar & Grill (that spot at 3090 Downing Street is once again The Kiva), the Auld Dubliner (also rumored to be reopening), the Squealing Pig, Redfish Grill in Boulder and Buenos Aires Grill.
Restaurants/watering holes that have opened since January 1: Mark & Isabella (425 South Teller Street in Lakewood), Heaven Star (7600 West 120th Avenue in Broomfield), Lakeside Waffles (replacing Meltz at 4335 West 44th Avenue, Fidel's (in the former Metro Kitchen, at 12 East 11th Avenue), Firehouse Subs (10600 Grant Street in Thornton), South Broadway Grill (2200 South Broadway), Arugula (2785 Iris Street in Boulder), Happy Noodle House (835 Walnut Street in Boulder), Organixx (1520 Blake Street), Vert Kitchen (704 South Pearl Street) and Katie Mullen's Restaurant & Pub (1550 Court Place).
Know any we missed? Trained monkeys are standing by at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leftovers: Having trouble finding a place to eat during Denver Restaurant Week? Have no fear. For the first time ever — and in the perfect year for it — DRW sponsor Visit Denver and more than half the participating restaurants have decided to expand the program for a second week, through March 6. This is good news for all of you who weren't quick enough to get reservations (some restaurants sold out weeks ago). For a list of participants, go to www.denverrestaurantweek.com.
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