Living proof that decent food can be had at a good price, the Brick Oven Beanery at 1007 East Colfax served me up a heapin' helping of its Original Brick Oven Chicken ($5.95) the other day. Half a chicken had been swathed in what I discerned as lemon and orange juices, then turned on the spit until dripping. On the side came a mound of skin-on mashed potatoes covered with a corn-laden white gravy, a scoop of sage-nut stuffing, a bowl of sliced lettuce coated too heavily with Parmesan-pepper dressing, and fresh-baked bread. I wasn't crazy about the bread--it was a little on the greasy side--but the rest was enough for two meals. Particularly since I topped it all off with a hot-fudge nut brownie parfait ($2.95 for two fat wedges of brownie sandwich and a slab of vanilla ice cream) that was so large it could feed an entire family. I might be able to eat again sometime next week.
Open: Bourbon Street Original Pizza Bar at 5139 South Yosemite Street, in the Denver Tech Center. The theme is New Orleans, which is sort of original for a pizza joint--but hardly surprising, considering the name. And there's more truth in advertising here: The place actually features a sushi-bar-like area where diners can watch their pies being made with such intriguing topping choices as "blackened shrimp & stroganoff." Whoa...Johnny's Espresso Cafe, at 85 South Union Boulevard, is now pouring, and it's a good thing, because there aren't enough espresso places. Really. This one offers a single shot of espresso for $1, a double cappuccino for $1.85. Plus sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries--everything but a shower and a shave.
Hot stuff: Habanero Pepper Sauce is made locally by brothers Alois and Louis Dogue and, man, is it potent. Concocted from the hottest pepper around, the sauce is great for pepperheads but perhaps too much for those who want just a hint of the heat. I put a drop on my tongue and was rewarded with seven full minutes of numbing fire. Another drop went into scrambled eggs, first without milk, and then, when the mixture proved too potent, with milk. (A protein in milk, called casein, dilutes the alkaloid capsaicin that's responsible for peppers' punch. And capsaicin, by the way, is what's used in creams for muscle aches.) If you need some of that in your stomach, pick up a bottle of Habanero at the Always Buy Colorado store on 14th Street, or at Aromas Market.
Sad parting: A piquant, picante farewell to David Pace, inventor of the sauce that inspired America's $730 million-a-year obsession with salsa--now ranked as the best-selling condiment in the country, ahead even of good old ketchup and mustard. Using tomatoes, onions and jalapenos, the Louisiana native mixed his first batch back in 1947. From there, the Pace just kept picking up. Proud papa Pace, who retired several years ago, died last year at age 79.
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