Steak it to 'em: The calls have been pouring in regarding my dinner with Barry Fey at Gallagher's ("We Came, We Sauce," May 31), 1480 Arapahoe Street. "Unfortunately, that awful place is right near my office, so we keep winding up over there," said Jill Delong, who asked that her name be used so her co-workers will get the hint. "Not once have we gotten through an entire meal without some kind of problem. One time it was soup that had a stale crust of bread in it that we couldn't even eat after it had soaked in the liquid for ten minutes, and another time the meat came out almost black on the outside and raw on the inside. It was just amazing."
Two callers said they'd been given free food or drinks because of meal problems, and another caller, Bobby Fitzpatrick, left the message that he'd actually put a sign up on his company's bulletin board warning people not to eat at Gallagher's. When I called Fitzpatrick back, I learned that he'd been there within a few days of my last visit. "The four of us had a terrible meal," he said. "I shelled out, like, thirty bucks for a sirloin steak, and it tasted like cardboard. Plus, we had that crab cake that you had, too, and it was the same thing. It was like they let it sit on the grill for too long. It was almost black." Gina Setter and her husband, who went there on their anniversary after a recommendation from a friend who frequents the original Gallagher's in New York, waited almost an hour for their steaks. "We kept asking the server if there was a problem, and he seemed so embarrassed," she said. "I think they had screwed up our food and had to do it over again. I wish we'd asked to see the manager, but we made up for it by drinking a lot of champagne."
So far, no one has called to defend Gallagher's, but a few callers did say they were going to check out Fey's favorites, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse (8100 East Orchard, Greenwood Village) and Sullivan's Steakhouse (1745 Wazee Street). They might also want to check out Trail Dust Steak House (7101 South Clinton in Englewood and 9101 Benton in Westminster), Fey's pick for a cheap steak. "They have a lot of flavor in their meat there," Fey says. "Gallagher's ought to go over and watch them some time."
Every year, I hear from Fey a few minutes after the Best of Denver issue hits the stands. He usually disagrees with most of our picks, and he often has suggestions for better places to try. Because he's eaten around town quite a bit, I always hear him out -- and take him out when I'm reviewing steaks, his particular favorite. But ribs come in a close second. "The best ribs in town are the ones you cook yourself," he said during our endless Gallagher's dinner, "and then you go to Oli's Rib Shack. They have about a dozen sauces, and they're all incredible." Oli's, at 9555 East Arapahoe Road in Greenwood Village, specializes in sauces, including Fey's favorite, Bone-Sucking Hot Mustard. "Jesus Christ, is that good," he says.
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Third on Fey's favorite-food list is prime rib, and for that he goes to Manhattan Grill (231 Milwaukee Street) or Ship Tavern (in the Brown Palace at 321 17th Street). For seafood, he breaks the options down by species: The Palm (1201 16th Street) for salmon; Cherry Crest Seafood Market and Restaurant (5909 South University Boulevard in Littleton) for Cajun popcorn shrimp; Sullivan's for crab cakes; Strings (1700 Humboldt Street) for lobster in a fruit sauce; and Zenith (815 17th Street), jou jou (1106 14th Street) or Palettes at the Denver Art Museum (100 West 14th Avenue Parkway) for calamari (he should call owner Kevin Taylor one of these days and just get the recipe).
So far, I'm with Fey -- although I'd have to taste that lobster in a fruit sauce at Strings before I give it my seal of approval. We also both love the fried chicken at Kapre Lounge & Fried Chicken #1 (2729 Welton Street), but agree that it's only good when owner Wilfred O. Thomas's daughter, Ava, is cooking. It doesn't matter who's making the pies at Anthony's, our pick for the best pizza in town; Anthony's now has six metro locations, although I think the 1628 East Evans Avenue location does the best job. In the ethnic realm, Fey likes Little Ollie's (2364 East Third Avenue) and Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant (431 South Broadway) for Chinese (I love Ollie's; Imperial leaves me a little cold), Kim Ba (2495 South Havana Street in Aurora) for Vietnamese, and Carmine's on Penn (92 South Pennsylvania) or Santino's on Downing (2390 South Downing Street) for Italian.
In the morning -- and as long as he's not planning to eat steak or some other heart-clogging item for dinner -- Fey can be found at Crown Burger (2192 South Colorado Boulevard). "Where the elite meet to eat," he says. "The winner and still the champ for those huge omelettes."