While my meals at Milagro Taco Bar (see review, page 59) left me with mixed feelings, my opinion about another Frank Bonanno operation remains unwavering. Mizuna was Bonanno's first restaurant (with late partner Doug Fleischmann), and it remains his best. Ever-changing, impeccably serviced by a thoroughly professional floor staff and as comforting as your favorite uncle's kitchen, Mizuna is a neighborhood place that draws crowds (and these days, cooks) from across the country, all of them coming to taste the first, best expression of Bonanno's ingredient obsessions, singular talent and hard work. His crew members there are less cooks than disciples, banging out brilliant plates with mimeograph precision, and I've eaten at Mizuna often enough to give them one of the ultimate compliments that one (now ex-) cook can give another: I have never, ever had a plate there that tasted one way at 8 p.m. on a Friday and different at 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. I was in this past Friday for an early dinner with friends, eating off the new fall menu, and fell in love all over again with the foie gras and apple beignets (like tiny Dolly Madison apple pies after a semester at charm school), the ungodly rich, buttery and beautiful lobster mac-and-cheese. The simple, rustic pumpkin-raisin bread grounding the fan of sliced duck breast transformed a groaning workhorse of a plate into a marvel of autumn flavors, and who but Bonanno (well known for his experimentation with non-traditional ingredients in classic preparations) could have his crew pull off a trick like ostrich loin paired with salsify, baby lettuce and Roquefort fondue and make it seem like the most logical thing in the world? Mizuna was one of the first places I visited after coming to Denver, and in the three years since, it has never failed to satisfy.
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