Scaled back: Soon after it opened last year, Cafe Iguana, at 300 Fillmore, shed much of its authentic Yucatan and Oaxacan fare in order to offer the sort of familiar Mexican food that Denverites could appreciate. But even that sacrifice of his original concept wasn't enough to make Kevin Taylor's second spot (he also owns Zenith) a success.
Now the lizard is out of here altogether, albeit officially "closed for remodeling." Come February, however, Cafe Iguana will become a seafood restaurant, with nary a nod to Mexico or the Southwest, two regions in which Taylor specializes. "It was just becoming too much work," Taylor says. "It wasn't worth it." Rumor has it that he is transferring the place to Mel and Janie Master, the masterminds behind the marvelous Mel's Bar and Grill, but neither camp is doing much talking.
A few blocks from Cafe Iguana--or whatever it's about to become--Scott Myerson just opened his second Granny Scott's Gourmet Pie Shop, at 2816 East Third Avenue. The Cherry Creek North spot offers the same toothsome desserts--named "Best Pie Made by a CIA Graduate" in last year's Best of Denver--that Myerson and his family have been slicing up at 3333 South Wadsworth Boulevard.
Sally Rock and Dale Goin thought they'd left the restaurant world behind--they wanted to take their gourmet cheesesteak on the road to state fairs and food festivals--but the new year finds them back at the Philadelphia Filly, 1585 South Pearl Street. The people they'd sold the spot to had turned it into a terrible pasta eatery called Flickers and then bailed out, so Rock and Goin are back in business. The couple has changed the name back to the original but revamped the old menu (don't worry; the cheesesteak is still there) to emphasize an ever-changing roster of gourmet soups. They also redesigned one dining room to make it "left-hander-friendly"--the menus open backward, the place settings are geared toward lefties and the beers come from the Left Hand Brewery. "Basically, sitting in this room will let right-handers know what it feels like to be on the other side," says Rock. Another innovation: Each day a selection from the lengthy list of specials will be displayed in the window so that Pearl Street passersby can see exactly what's for lunch or dinner.
Right now, pasta is what's for lunch at Al Fresco, 1523 Market Street. After being open only for dinner for several months, the restaurant has revived its popular lunch, which includes an express-style repast for $6.95.
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Former Al Fresco chef/co-owner Radek Cerny, now proprietor of Papillon, at 250 Josephine, passed along some interesting observations from his recent visit to Robuchon in Paris, which is run by the infamous Joël Robuchon and looks like a cross between an upscale sushi bar and a Roman ristorante. A meal for two averages $350, and reservations, required several months in advance, must be secured by a confirmation fax and a credit card. Twenty-seven staffers cook fifty eight-course meals--not one more--per night in one of the tightest-run and most spotless kitchens in the world (many in the business liken it to a military operation). A sampling of menu items: foie gras with creamed lentils, caviar aspic with cream of cauliflower, simmered pig's head with a potato puree. The best part? Pets are allowed--but keep the pot-bellied porkers at home.