Mouthing Off

Noodlin' around: People always think that the best part of my job is getting to stuff my face. They're wrong--that's the second-best part of my job. The best part is letting people know about out-of-the-way, unheard-of eateries that serve excellent food, like Tay Do (reviewed above). Of course, in the case of Tay Do, I not only got to discover a treasure, but I got to stuff my face, too.

I wasn't as lucky at Richard Lee's Noodle House (472 South Federal Boulevard). After several visits, I still can't get excited about it. The place looks nice enough, and the staff is very friendly, but the dishes always seem to fall short. The hu tieu ($5), rice noodles with lots of barbecued pork, looked promising--but the simple broth grew more boring with each spoonful. In fact, although Vietnamese soups are known for their complexity, boring broth was a problem with all the Noodle House soups I tried. It was downright bland in the mi to vit thiem ($5)--a fat-noodle soup that supposedly sported duck with five-spice seasoning but tasted like plain old no-seasoning duck--and in the banh bot loc ($5) with shredded ga, or chicken, which was tough and chewy and no addition to the mild mix. Even the pho ($5), the nam chin gan sach version with well-cooked beef and tendon tripe, was amazingly blah.

I think Richard Lee's kitchen probably has a couple of basic broths sitting on the stove, and the staff tosses in the required ingredients two minutes before a dish is served instead of letting the meats steep awhile for each order--or even having separate bases for each style, as most other Vietnamese places do. Then again, Richard Lee's claims to be a Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant. Maybe that's the problem.

Morning glory: Diced Onions, at 609 Corona Street, has been doing one kind of eclectic cuisine, and doing it well, for three years now. But in April the breakfast-and-lunch spot will move from its cozy central-Denver home to a building in Genesee Park, at 25958 Genesee Trail, that was last occupied by Sympatico. Onions owner Stacey Skelton, who is partners with her parents, George and Bonnie Ladley, says she just inked the deal. The new location will give her more space--but Skelton will drop breakfast from her repertoire to do lunch and dinner instead. And I'll miss those breakfasts. "We plan to have a killer Sunday brunch, however," says Skelton. "We'll do all the same things we do now. That's why I want to get open up there in early April, so we can offer Easter brunch."

Until then, though, you can avail yourself of chef Jeremy Terrazzi's morning meals, such as the omelette ($6.95) with fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes and Alfredo sauce that I had the other day. The three-egg monster filled half the plate; the other half was piled high with oregano-encrusted, chile-powder-dusted potatoes and toast. A side of four bacon slices ($2) and half an orange rounded out my a.m. repast. The breakfast was so huge that not only could I not finish it, but it took two co-workers to polish off the leftovers that I brought back to the office. You just can't beat the deal, especially if you're someone like a world-class athlete training for a marathon.

Good causes: The Dining Out for Life fundraiser for Project Angel Heart is so important, I'm eating up lots of space here by listing all the good-hearted restaurants that are participating. Dine at one of the following spots on March 12, and 25 percent of your food bill will go to providing meals for people living with HIV/AIDS. From A to Z: Alcatraz Brewing Company, Annie's Cafe, Aubergine Cafe, Bang!, Barolo Grill, Basil Ristorante, Bistro Adde Brewster, Bombay Clay Oven, Breck-enridge Brewery (both locations), Broadway Brewpub, Cafe Brazil, Carmine's on Penn, Charlie's Parlor, Cherokee Dining on 12th, Cherry Cricket, Chipotle (all metro Denver locations), Chives American Bistro, Cliff Young's, Denver Detour, Dixons, El Rancho, Fourth Story, Giggling Grizzly, Goodfriends, Hugh's New American Bistro, Ilios, Imperial, janleone, Jax Fish House, Las Brisas, Mediterra, Mel's Bar and Grill, Piatti, Potager, Racines, Reiver's, The Restaurant at B.J.'s, River Sage, The Saucy Noodle, Siena, Sostanza, Strings, Tante Louise, Taste of Thailand, Today's Gourmet Highlands Garden Cafe, Tosh's Hacienda (both locations), Tuscany in the Loews-Giorgio, Vesta Dipping Grill, Vino Vino, Wahoo's Fish Taco (both locations), Washington Park Grille, Wynkoop Brewing Co. and Zaidy's Deli. If you're gonna eat out that night anyway, why not have it benefit something other than your stomach?

And on March 25, John Ash, author of the cookbook From the Earth to the Table: John Ash's Wine Country Cuisine, hosts a fundraiser for Share Our Strength at Assignments Restaurant at the Colorado Institute of Art's facility at 675 South Broadway. Ash is Fetzer Vineyards' culinary director, so Fetzer wines, along with Bonterra wines, will be paired with the food, to be cooked by Ash and several local chefs. Cost is $100 per person; call 778-6625.

Runs for your life: Last week's Safeway advertising supplement contained an excellent, if inadvertent, laugh. Right below the supermarket chain's announcement that the snacks containing Olean (Olestra to the rest of us) are now in stores was an ad for toilet paper.



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