Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Noodlin' around: Rhonda L. Damraur, whose letter to the editor appears on page 6 of this issue, works at Basil Pasta Bar--and no one's going to say she's not a loyal employee. Damraur wrote to complain about my review of the place at 30 South Broadway ("Oodles of Noodles," January 30); she'd pulled my lunch check and said I'd quoted dinner rather than lunch prices. She's right--but I still think I wasn't wrong to pan Basil.

My biggest complaint was that the food wasn't worth the price of admission. That observation stands. The correct price for each of our entrees was about $10--still too much for lunch dishes that should have checked in at closer to $7. Damraur also said I'd described the meal inaccurately--by which she apparently meant I neglected to mention that the meal included a cup of watered-down, obviously forgettable soup. Basil may be stretching ingredients to save money; the restaurant would be better off skipping the soup and cutting prices.

"Some wonder if Kyle Wagner actually ate here," Damraur's letter concluded. Well, she knows I did, since she pulled my check, and owner Peter Schlicht knows damn well I was there: He noticed the name on my credit card and came over to chat.

This is not the first time Basil's faithful employees and customers have rallied to the support of the restaurant. They were so enthusiastic about sending in Best of Denver 1996 ballots that Basil wound up the readers' choice for Best Pasta Restaurant. It was certainly not my pick, however.

More pastabilities: Good Italian food continues to be available at Siena, tucked into a basement at 266 South Downing, despite the fact that Jan Leone has moved on. Her former partner, Jeff Harris, remains at Siena; he says the two split over creative differences. Although he adds that he's "lightened Jan's recipes," he's kept the menu, including the exemplary Caesar he's been doing since Siena was Dante's.

Meanwhile, Leone has taken over Michael's on Marion, at 1501 Marion, and renamed it janleone. "I brought a few of the dishes I was doing at Siena," Leone says. "And I'll be doing food here along the same lines--Italian-style home cooking." Since Michael's had a reputation as being particularly gay-friendly, Leone wants to let people know it will continue to be so.

From soup to nuts: Anyone who uses his noodle will realize the fax going around to advertise an alleged new Vietnamese restaurant on South Federal is a phony. The address is a giveaway (the numbers are nonexistent), but so is the slogan for Pho Q: "Please visit our lovely new noodles and have a 'happy time.' Please say 'Pho Q' to your friends."