Although Denver has several Peruvian restaurants, it has only one Limon — the recently expanded spot at 1618 East 17th Avenue where chef/owner Alex Gurevich's menu runs more toward the hyper-modern than the traditional, with cuisine rooted in modern Andean- and urban Lima-style cooking. Still, it retains the soul of a true Peruvian restaurant.
But some folks in California claim that soul is really theirs.
The owners of San Francisco's Limon — which offers Peruvian cuisine along with "Nuevo Latino fusion" — have raised a stink over Gurevich's restaurant. "They said, 'You took our name,'" Gurevich recalls. "And I said, 'We did?'"
It's true that the San Francisco restaurant was using the name Limon long before Gurevich opened his place. But so was a Limon in the Simi Valley, one in Auckland, one in Helsinki, one in Minneapolis, one in Miami. Then there's the city named Limon. And that nasty, dried lemony-salt stuff they sell in gas stations in certain neighborhoods. And the fruit.
"They got an attorney," Gurevich continues, "and I'm like, well, fuck that, then, and I called my attorney."
The owners of San Francisco's Limon weren't just upset about the name. They also claimed that Gurevich had lifted dishes from their menu — but the ones they cited were (you guessed it) lomo saltado and ceviche, which you can find on any Peruvian menu in any town. (For another example in Denver, see my review of Cebiche.)
"How could we not have that on our menu?" Gurevich demands.
Unless the San Francisco Limon was prepared to go after a nationwide trademark for the name, there was just no case, Gurevich's lawyers told him. "They tried a scare tactic with us," he says. "But we have the balls to stand up and say fuck you to the number-one market, right? Prove to me that our menu has anything to do with your menu, or our name. If anything, we would need to be served now on a federal level."
Which doesn't look like it's going to happen. It's been a few months since Gurevich or his lawyer have heard from the California Limon's lawyers. And as Gurevich sees it, it never had to go that far. "They never wanted to talk to me," he says, "which I think is just stupid. The chef could've just come to me and said, 'That's my name, man. What the hell?' And we could've talked. But that never happened."
Double trouble: I got word last week from a highly dependable (and drunken) source that Dylan Moore of Deluxe (30 South Broadway), one of Denver's best and most focused chefs, was looking at picking up a second address. Come to find out, the rumors are true. Sometime next spring, Moore will open Delite, right next door to Deluxe in a space that's currently a snowboard shop. Moore will take possession in February, and then it's just a matter of turning a snowboard shop into a hip, casual, eclectic, classy martini bar and lounge and knocking a hole through one of the walls.
"I don't know," Moore said when I got him on the phone ahead of service on Thursday afternoon. "I think Broadway needs something like this, don't you? I mean, there's a lot of bars in the neighborhood, but they're all for a kind of rocker and younger crowd."
When I asked Moore what made him think of doubling-down on Broadway, he offered a few good reasons. First, there's the Deluxe dining room, which is small and almost always full; Delite will give him more room to play with. Then there's the opportunity to work both spaces from behind one line in Deluxe's small kitchen. But although Delite will offer food (Moore's planning on pizzas, cold apps, some small plates off the Deluxe menu — nothing complicated), the focus will be on drinking. "I don't want Delite to be about dining," he said. "I'm opening a bar."
And then there's the most important reason for the expansion: "I gotta make more money," Moore told me. Right now, Deluxe is doing twice as much business in food as it is in booze, and any restaurant pro will tell you that selling food is no way to make bank in the restaurant industry. "Opening Deluxe, that was like my restaurant dream. Now I'm going to do something else."
Leftovers: Everyone has been talking lately about the whole dogs-on-patios thing — how the city has gone and gotten its collective panties in a twist about people roping up their mutts on the patios of all those fine Cherry Creek eateries.
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Personally, I couldn't care less. Dog people — and particularly the kind of dog people who insist on bringing Fido with them wherever they go — rank in my estimation of local weirdoes somewhere between the kind of people who fly signs on street corners supporting fifth-party political candidates for city ombudsman and the slick-looking business types with those little cell-phone ear thingies who walk around talking to themselves like they think the business suit and the briefcase make them not look like your average tinfoil-hat-wearing street creature babbling about the space aliens in their underpants. But apparently, the dog-obsessed demographic is large enough that at least one restaurant is going waaaay out of its way to accommodate them.
"In Paris, one may take his or her dog to dine — you order a steak for you and one for your dog. Since we cannot do that here, French 250 has the next best thing — a dog walking service that will water, give treats and keep a profile of your special friend."
Yes, that's right. Not only will French 250 — which is scheduled to open August 18 at 250 Steele Street in the old Bistro Adde Brewster space — walk and water your dog (courtesy of Poocharella dog-walking service), but it will be keeping a friggin' VIP list of the pets.
Honestly, I don't know how to respond to that.