MOUTHING OFF

A recent visit to 240 Union left me unmoved by the restaurant's renovation--and even less impressed with its kitchen.

The place looks nice, all right, if you like that Spago-style, streamlined stuff, and I do appreciate a bathroom (such as the one at Strings) that provides several types of hairspray, tampons, Q-Tips and hand lotion (but--tsk, tsk--where are the condoms?). Still, the kitchen would do better to lay off the trendy crap until it becomes proficient at something simple--like, say, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. For example, the tomato florentine soup ($2.75) described by the waiter as containing "a touch of cream" was a cream-based brew, for heaven's sake. It tasted like pizza sauce, and heavy on the herbs at that. The lobster bisque ($2.75) was the other soup of the day, also cream-based and somewhere right in between having flavor and being nothing but milk fat. (It would have been nice to have a third choice that was a little less rich than these two soups.) Next came a salad of field greens with a raspberry-tinged vinaigrette ($3); the vinaigrette was too tangy and bitter, and the greens had enough stem to weave a basket with. You can imagine how thrilled I was to find a similar-size portion of field greens alongside my goat-cheese gratin with roasted bell peppers ($5); thanks for telling me, Mr. Waiter. The goat cheese was an overdone glob that tasted like the cheap pimiento spread someone made me eat when I was too young to refuse. My dining pal's swordfish calzone ($7.95) was better, except for the two chunks of sushi in its center. Fortunately, the surrounding pieces of fish were cooked, and the crust was a work of art. We also scarfed up a considerable amount of the oily, poppy-seed-covered bread. LoDo lowdown: Rumors abound that Morton's Steakhouse has signed to move into the renovated Sheridan-Heritage Building at 17th and Wynkoop. But steakhouse manager Jerry Link denies that a move is in the offing.

"We have a one-and-a-half-year lease left at the Tivoli," says Link. "And we just put in $8,000 worth of new carpeting. That's just a rumor that started about six months ago. Besides, we like it here, because we're one of the few downtown restaurants that has parking."
Ch-ch-changes: Carmine's on Penn opened last week in a cozy corner storefront at 92 South Pennsylvania (the old home of the Bluepoint and, before that, the Plum Tree); it's being billed as a family-style place just like Carmine's in New York...Li Yuan (or Yuen), at 2731 West Evans Avenue, has been sold; it is now Good Chef Cafe and still offers Chinese food...Andolini's, at 1901 Youngfield in Golden, has hired chef Tom Mirabito (formerly of Cafe Milan in Lakewood)...The Fort now offers arctic musk-ox steaks through "close cooperation between the Inuvialut Indian people [in Canada] and government agencies"--but probably not with the cooperation of the musk ox.