With chef Karl Rinehart now at Skydiner (see review), the buzz is over what his successor, former Wolfgang Puck and Strings chef Kim Adams, will be cooking up at the Hornet (82 Broadway), where she started just last week. "Kim is from New Orleans," explains Hornet marketing manager Margo Gillaspy, "so you'll be seeing some Cajun dishes added to some of the dishes that Karl made popular here. We'll keep the favorites, but definitely the focus of the menu will shift a bit." And since it was about time for the Hornet's biennial menu change, Gillaspy says, some of those new dishes should be appearing soon.
Bistro Adde Brewster (250 Steele Street) has moved sous chef Jim Oetting, who's been there less than a year, into the top toque position -- freeing up longtime head chef Gieri Camenisch to spend more time on the catering company he owns with Bistro owner Adde Bjorklund, appropriately titled Bistro Boys Catering. "Oetting signed on in November of last year and proceeded to demonstrate his talents in the kitchen so well that I had to promote him," Bjorklund says. Although Oetting won't be doing too much to Adde's menu, one thing he'll bring to the table is a twice-weekly "market" dinner: On Wednesday and Saturday nights, he'll create specials from ingredients he found fresh that day at the Cherry Creek farmers' market.
A few blocks away, Michael's of Cherry Creek (2710 East Third Avenue) has been sold to the husband-and-wife team of Jeanette Cionetti and Dennis Beznoska-Cionetti by another husband-and-wife team, original owners Anitra Carr and chef Michael Schneill. A few weeks ago, when I asked Carr about rumors that Michael's was closing -- rumors fueled by Schneill's departure for New York, where he's opened another restaurant, and Carr's concentration on her music career -- she denied them. And while she conveniently failed to mention that she and Schneill were selling Michael's, it remains open, with chef Ben Davison expected to stay on.
Matt Selby, the head chef at Vesta Dipping Grill (1822 Blake Street), has his own admission: That fabulous Vesta duck dish that I awarded in this year's Best of Denver (there's something about the way the fatty skin sits on the meat that makes the fowl taste like duck bacon) was not his creation. "Credit must be given where credit is due," says Selby. "In this particular case, Dave Zahradnik, our executive sous chef, has made me look great." Kudos to Selby for passing along the honors -- and promising that when the eatery undergoes its usual seasonal changes, Zahradnik's duck will stay.
Taco the town: Answering the call of another craving, I recently dropped in at Jalapeño Mexican Grill, 5701 Leetsdale Drive (a second location, at 9555 East Arapahoe Road in Englewood, closed a while ago), and grabbed some fish tacos to go ($4.29 for two). Each white-corn tortilla held a long plank of fish flesh that had been coated in a thin batter and then deep-fried until the center was hot and moist and the exterior all crisp and crunchy; the fish was accessorized by freshly shredded green cabbage, a spirited pico de gallo and a slightly spicy vinegar-spiked mayo sauce. The tacos were so impressive that I called to ask for details -- but the owner just barked that he didn't want to advertise and then hung up.
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I always crave the meatless wonders at WaterCourse Foods (206 East 13th Avenue). And as of August 1, the town's Best Vegetarian (my pick in both 2000 and 1999) added dinner to its existing breakfast and lunch lineup. "After two and a half years in business, the staff finally felt confident enough that we could pull it off," says chef/owner Dan Landes. "And we've also applied for our liquor license to do beer and wine, but that probably won't happen for about four more months."
In the meantime, from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly (except Sundays), WaterCourse will offer many of the items on its lunch menu along with a half-dozen more, such as sesame seitan and jerked tofu. "Initially, we didn't go with the heavy tofu-type stuff with our breakfast and lunch menu," Landes explains, "but now we feel good about it, because people aren't afraid of it anymore. It was such a hard sell at first, but once people started trying it, they were hooked."
Vegetarians who eat cheese will want to check out the new pasta entree, which combines the same marinated portabellos Landes uses on his vegetarian Reuben with artichoke hearts, broccoli, sautéed shallots and garlic and brie. "I think you could say it's one of the richest vegetarian pasta dishes going," he says.
I've got no beef with that.