Broadway is enjoying a restaurant renaissance, what with the recent openings of Delite and Beatrice & Woodsley at 32 South Broadway and 36 South Broadway, respectively. And next week, Bistro One could be open at 1294 South Broadway. Late last week, I got chef Olav Peterson on the blower (he was sitting in his empty dining room, waiting on signatures from the water guys, waste management guys, public safety guys...) and he told me that he and owner Alex Waters were "shooting for June 1, but that's a little tentative."
Once the paperwork was signed, Peterson said he'd need maybe five days to put in his initial orders, stock his pantry and prep his kitchen. Actually, he really needed ten days — he was planning on curing all of his own bacon and still waiting for some of his rooftop and backyard crops to come in — but five days was what he figured he'd have. "'Cress, carrots, mustard," he said, listing all the things he's got growing on his roof right now. "Tommies, peppers, spaghetti squash, peas. It's a little late for lettuces, but we've got some great heirloom tomatoes. This was really inspired by my sous chef, Travis."
That would be Travis Lorton, ex of Alto Restaurant and, a little bit further back, Blackbird and MK in Chicago. "He told me, 'I just love digging in the dirt,'" Peterson said. And he had all these great heirloom tomato seeds, so..."
The wine list has come together over the past couple of weeks (Peterson told me that they tasted more than 150 bottles before he and Waters narrowed the list down to a tight 25), and so has the menu: a French-inspired American lineup that takes some weird detours and plays interesting games with classical dishes. "Like the classic dish of pan-seared salmon, rice pilaf and beurre blanc," Peterson said, explaining that his translation involves basil-wrapped salmon over crawfish risotto in a Meyer lemon broth. He'll also do East Coast clam fritters and steak frites, and beef Bourguignon, cooked off and used as filling for homemade ravioli, in another classic red wine and mushroom sauce.
"I haven't loaded the menu full of truffles and foie," he added. "We're trying to stay true to that neighborhood format — a place where someone can come in for an $18 steak and an $18 bottle of wine. We're not fuckin' around with this one."
In the remaining days before Bistro One opens, he's planning a few friends-and-family dinners, maybe a Belgian beer-tasting open house with passed apps as a way to introduce Waters and himself to their new neighbors. "It's amazing, the support from the community we have," he said, describing how every day people have been coming by, peeking in the windows, asking him when the restaurant is going to get open. "I really think we're going to be looking at two turns on opening night. Two or three turns. We gotta be on our A game from day one," he said, then laughed. "This is gonna be wild."
For the boys: For those of you not knocked completely sideways by the downturn in the economy, two great charity dinners are coming up. The first, scheduled for June 2 at Luca d'Italia (711 Grant Street), is a benefit thrown by Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno (owners of Luca, along with Mizuna and Osteria Marco) for the neurology department at Children's Hospital. "We're getting a late start on putting it together," Jacqueline told me, "because our guest chef is Lachlan [Mackinnon-Patterson, of Frasca], and he and Frank had a heck of a time working out their schedules — so we need to book it very quickly to raise the dollars we're looking for. Our vendors donate the food and booze, our staff donates their time, and every penny we collect goes directly to Children's. The first year we raised 15K, last year 25K; this year we're hoping for 50K."
The dinner will be five courses: cocktails starting at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6. The staff of Luca will be on hand, along with Lachlan and his partner, Bobby Stuckey, and though tickets aren't cheap ($350 per person or $600 for patron level), it's all for a good cause. Jacqueline and Frank's son, Luca, had brain surgery at Children's, and Lachlan's boy had heart surgery done there as well — both life-saving procedures. So when you talk about giving back, these two chefs certainly have cause. "This is personal," said Jacqueline.
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Leftovers: I still miss Greg Goldfogel's Ristorante Amore, but there's good news at Alto, which Goldfogel opened at 1320 15th Street in February 2007, the month before he closed his Cherry Creek mainstay. As of last week, the restaurant is now open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, serving contemporary American cuisine created by executive chef Michael Farrell (ex of Beano's Cabin in Beaver Creek).
The Tavern Hospitality Group (owners of Tavern Uptown, Tavern Downtown and Tavern Lowry, among other ventures), will open Tavern Tech Center on Monday, June 2, at 5336 DTC Boulevard in Greenwood Village. While that's good news for the Tech monkeys down south, I'm much more interested in finding out when this group will be turning on the lights at Tavern Wash Park, at 1066 South Gaylord — the former home of Chi Bistro, one of this city's all-time worst restaurants.