Best Way to Piss Off the Dishwasher

Elway's

Elway's Cherry Creek
For a serious steakhouse, Elway's has a goofy streak a mile wide running through it. Milk and cookies for dessert, shrimp cocktail mounted over smoking dry ice and, for a real hit of comfort-food nostalgia, do-it-yourself s'mores. This plate is served as a warmed bowl of homemade, melted chocolate ganache, a half-dozen marshmallows, some graham crackers, a long fork and one of those Sterno-fired mini-grills that we've only seen used before as the centerpiece of Chinese-restaurant pu-pu platters. With just a few ingredients and implements, this dessert can make a mess unparalleled in the Denver white-tablecloth scene. We're talking melted marshmallows stuck to the plates, welded onto the tines of the fondue forks and smeared all over the grill, as well as chocolate on the tablecloth and (more than likely) all over the customers. So, please, keep the poor dishwashers in mind when ordering this dessert -- maybe kick 'em a couple bucks on the tip.
Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, Frank Bonanno's two (and counting) houses, exist today almost beyond the bounds of classification. They're neither casual eateries nor necessarily fine dining. They're each dedicated to their own style of cuisine -- Italian for Luca, French-Mediterranean for Mizuna -- but neither work from any kind of standardized canon, depending instead on improvisation and reworking classics into modern interpretations. The crews in both restaurants are fiercely talented and incredibly well trained, and they consistently knock out some of the best plates in the city, night after night, week after week. And at the center of all this is Bonanno, who -- after years of working his ass off and paying his dues -- is now coming into his own not just as Denver's best chef, but as an artist, craftsman and businessperson who's known and respected throughout the industry. For years, Bonanno spent every one of his rare vacations cooking stages (short apprenticeships) at some of the best houses in the country; now line dogs and galley kids from some of the best houses in the country are coming to him, asking for a week, two weeks, a month in his kitchen so that they might learn the tricks and techniques that make his restaurants so good. What's more, a lot of these cooks are choosing to stay after their stints are complete, joining Bonanno's crew permanently or asking him to help them find work at Denver's other top addresses. So for all of this -- for his personal talent behind the burners, his dedication to Denver's ever-struggling scene and his vicious competitive streak, as well as for the way his restaurants have thrived, his reputation traveled, and his crews gone from merely great to a rarefied sort of brilliant smoothness over the past couple of years -- Bonanno takes the prize.

Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, Frank Bonanno's two (and counting) houses, exist today almost beyond the bounds of classification. They're neither casual eateries nor necessarily fine dining. They're each dedicated to their own style of cuisine -- Italian for Luca, French-Mediterranean for Mizuna -- but neither work from any kind of standardized canon, depending instead on improvisation and reworking classics into modern interpretations. The crews in both restaurants are fiercely talented and incredibly well trained, and they consistently knock out some of the best plates in the city, night after night, week after week. And at the center of all this is Bonanno, who -- after years of working his ass off and paying his dues -- is now coming into his own not just as Denver's best chef, but as an artist, craftsman and businessperson who's known and respected throughout the industry. For years, Bonanno spent every one of his rare vacations cooking stages (short apprenticeships) at some of the best houses in the country; now line dogs and galley kids from some of the best houses in the country are coming to him, asking for a week, two weeks, a month in his kitchen so that they might learn the tricks and techniques that make his restaurants so good. What's more, a lot of these cooks are choosing to stay after their stints are complete, joining Bonanno's crew permanently or asking him to help them find work at Denver's other top addresses. So for all of this -- for his personal talent behind the burners, his dedication to Denver's ever-struggling scene and his vicious competitive streak, as well as for the way his restaurants have thrived, his reputation traveled, and his crews gone from merely great to a rarefied sort of brilliant smoothness over the past couple of years -- Bonanno takes the prize.

Table 6's crew has taken everything that the city and the entire country (thanks to a nod from John Mariani in Esquire's list of the best new restaurants of 2004) could throw at them, and they're still on their feet, still cooking, still doing the job. Under the direction of chef Aaron Whitcomb, Table 6 has remained vital, relevant and, more to the point, packed since the day it opened, with crowds and a nationwide buzz. And while this crew has struggled -- falling occasionally from the peak of its talents, simply worn down by the never-ending grind of full houses night after night after night -- it's never been put down for the count. "Doing the job" is sometimes the best compliment that can be given to a kitchen operating under stress, meaning everyone there is still slugging it out, still giving every plate their whole heart and full attention. And that's what Table 6 has done this year. Under pressure that would have made a lesser team crumble and flake, these guys are still in there, still turning out some of the best food the city has to offer.


Table 6
Cassandra Kotnik
Table 6's crew has taken everything that the city and the entire country (thanks to a nod from John Mariani in Esquire's list of the best new restaurants of 2004) could throw at them, and they're still on their feet, still cooking, still doing the job. Under the direction of chef Aaron Whitcomb, Table 6 has remained vital, relevant and, more to the point, packed since the day it opened, with crowds and a nationwide buzz. And while this crew has struggled -- falling occasionally from the peak of its talents, simply worn down by the never-ending grind of full houses night after night after night -- it's never been put down for the count. "Doing the job" is sometimes the best compliment that can be given to a kitchen operating under stress, meaning everyone there is still slugging it out, still giving every plate their whole heart and full attention. And that's what Table 6 has done this year. Under pressure that would have made a lesser team crumble and flake, these guys are still in there, still turning out some of the best food the city has to offer.
The food here may not be haute, but it's high-quality. And it isn't dished up by culinary celebrities, but rather by a hardworking group of real service-industry sluggers training for the day when they might be the ones wearing the clean white jackets and the big chef's hats. For the past eight years, Work Options for Woman has staffed the cafeteria at the Denver Department of Human Services with crews of low-income women struggling to come off welfare and find a place for themselves in the workforce. And under the direction of executive chef Jane Berryman and chef-instructor Wendy Vlach, the program has done just that, placing about thirty women per year in good-paying jobs in kitchens across the city. In terms of training, these women couldn't be better prepared. Unlike students in those schoolboy Culinary Arts programs, these cooks serve 300 meals a day to city employees, bang out 800 additional meals a couple of times a week for the Food Bank of the Rockies, and in the process receive comprehensive instruction on kitchen safety, sanitation, menu planning, catering and station cooking. If only all rookie cooks were trained so well.


The food here may not be haute, but it's high-quality. And it isn't dished up by culinary celebrities, but rather by a hardworking group of real service-industry sluggers training for the day when they might be the ones wearing the clean white jackets and the big chef's hats. For the past eight years, Work Options for Woman has staffed the cafeteria at the Denver Department of Human Services with crews of low-income women struggling to come off welfare and find a place for themselves in the workforce. And under the direction of executive chef Jane Berryman and chef-instructor Wendy Vlach, the program has done just that, placing about thirty women per year in good-paying jobs in kitchens across the city. In terms of training, these women couldn't be better prepared. Unlike students in those schoolboy Culinary Arts programs, these cooks serve 300 meals a day to city employees, bang out 800 additional meals a couple of times a week for the Food Bank of the Rockies, and in the process receive comprehensive instruction on kitchen safety, sanitation, menu planning, catering and station cooking. If only all rookie cooks were trained so well.

The All-Star Game may have been a bust for restaurants, but they scored -- and scored big -- ten days later, when Denver's first Restaurant Week kicked off. This joint venture of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and, most important, a group of hardworking food-industry types had restaurants across town packed during what's often the slowest week of the year. The 83 eateries that signed on for the experiment offered special $52.80 (for two) meal deals, giving locals a reason to try new places and a reminder to revisit the old. Please, sir, may we have some more?


The All-Star Game may have been a bust for restaurants, but they scored -- and scored big -- ten days later, when Denver's first Restaurant Week kicked off. This joint venture of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and, most important, a group of hardworking food-industry types had restaurants across town packed during what's often the slowest week of the year. The 83 eateries that signed on for the experiment offered special $52.80 (for two) meal deals, giving locals a reason to try new places and a reminder to revisit the old. Please, sir, may we have some more?

When the Colorado Legislature lowered the official blood-alcohol-content level to .08 during its 2004 session, restaurateurs feared a financial fallout, worrying that DUI-wary diners would opt to go wineless. So the Colorado Restaurant Association successfully lobbied for a new law that allows diners to take their undrunk wine home with them, recorked and wrapped up, doggie-bag style (and then stashed in your trunk). Colorado is now one of only a handful of states in the nation that allow patrons to stick a cork in it; it's a progressive variation on the whole leftovers thing we love so much. Now if only the lawmakers would let us take our own bottles into liquor-free eateries...


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