Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Made in Japan: This week's review restaurant, Domo (see above), bills itself as the only Japanese eatery in the Rocky Mountain region to serve authentic Japanese country cooking. But I know of at least one other: Matoi, at 11020 West Alameda Avenue in Lakewood, which dishes out nabemono in the tiniest space imaginable. When they opened three years ago, owners Isamu "Sam" Furuichi and his wife, Billie Hopkins-Furuichi, served both lunch and dinner, but not long ago they dropped the evening meals.

Still, fans of Sam's delectable tempura and complex oden don't have to limit themselves to Matoi's lunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday). The Furuichis recently began offering kaiseki meals, lengthy, multi-course affairs for parties of ten or more, done either in the restaurant or in your own home. Either way, you get more food than you can possibly imagine. Prices vary according to what dishes you choose, and arrangements must be made at least a week in advance; call 987-0836 for more information.

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Q's, in the Hotel Boulderado at 2115 13th Street in Boulder, shut down for a few days last month to move from a mezzanine space to the much larger area recently vacated by the now-defunct Teddy Roosevelt's. Q's doubled its seating with this move and also expanded its menu to include some of the bar-oriented items that were a Teddy's hallmark, reflecting a wider range of prices in the process. But executive chef John Platt--who used to be known as a former sous chef for Dave Query and has since established himself as an innovative and proficient chef in his own right--still offers the same tantalizing roster of foods he became known for at the original Q's, such as foie gras with grilled pears and potato galette in a riesling reduction, and flash-grilled red trout with artichoke-potato hash and lemon tarragon butter. Since Q's is now the only restaurant in the Boulderado, it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and does room service, too--lucky hotel guests.

Another opening, another chow: Denver is being overrun by so-called Mediterranean restaurants that purvey foods from all around the sea, but some are more interesting than others. Check out La Zeez, at 2594 South Colorado Boulevard, which is billing itself as a "healthy alternative." I'm not sure what it's an alternative to, but the small menu is primarily Middle Eastern, with plenty of kabobs, falafel, baba ghanoush and hummus. They have a few uncommon items, too, and a great selection of fresh juices, including carrot, strawberry and mango. And although this city is chock-full of other Asian cuisine, we have a dearth of Korean eateries, so I'm delighted to see that a new one has opened: Gaya, at 1042 South Peoria, which will serve up the traditional smokeless barbecue. (For a country that's in the process of starving its people to death, Korea certainly has beautiful, vibrantly flavorful food.)

Also recently opened is a third outpost of the Chowda House, this one at 158 Fillmore Street in Cherry Creek North. The other two Chowda Houses--one at 11104 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood and the other at 5240 South Wadsworth in Littleton--have been popular partly for their clam chowder and fried seafood, but mostly because they're cheap and not fancy-schmancy. It'll be interesting to see if the quality of the fish is better--and if the prices are higher--at this chic location (once home to Thoa Fink's infamous Boccalino, where the Denver Post's Bill Husted dished up dinners before he started dishing dirt as a society scribe).

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: Everyone's crappy to each other the rest of the year, but the holidays bring those weepy, warm-fuzzy feelings to the surface. So when the desire to help someone hits, here are a few possibilities connected with local restaurants.

Several area eateries are donating the food for Fifty Finest Singles, a benefit for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation held at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum at the former Lowry Air Force Base; $50 at the door buys you a buffet dinner, entertainment and dancing. But move fast--the event is December 4. Call 296-6610. On Sunday, December 7, Brasserie Z, 815 17th Street, is the setting for the Colorado AIDS Project's seventh annual Holiday Prelude Dinner. Z's Kevin Taylor, along with JoAnn and Anthony Cardone, chairs the event, at which longtime AIDS workers Debora Judish and Victor Dukay will be honored. That's the good news; the bad news is that the dinner is almost sold out. (Call 837-0166 ext. 502 if you want to beg to buy any open seats.)

Aubergine Cafe, 225 East Seventh Avenue, will host the third annual Project Angel Heart holiday dinner on Monday, December 15. The $70-per-person ticket buys you five courses (including house-made duck pate and grilled quail with foie gras) paired with wine, as well as a warm glow for helping a good cause: Project Angel Heart is a nonprofit that provides meals to people with AIDS. Reservations are essential, so call 832-4778.

Einstein Bros. Bagels will make a donation to the Second Harvest National Food Bank for every holiday bucket they sell this season. The buckets vary in price and include such goodies as pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, whole bean coffee and, of course, bagels. The Denver metro area has 23 Einstein Bros. locations, so if there isn't one near you, you must live in Kansas.

Food for the mind is the aim of the All Books for Children Holiday Book Buy program that Starbucks Coffee Company is sponsoring. A $3 donation at any of its more than thirty Denver-area stores goes toward new books for Denver's branch of the Boys & Girls Club of America. The program has a personal touch: When you donate, you put your name on a bookplate, which then gets placed in one of the books. Reading is also fundamental at area Stuart Anderson's Steakhouses--all four Denver locations will make a donation to the Reading Is Fundamental program every time someone uses a Visa card to charge steaks during December. A minimum donation of $1 million has been pledged nationally to RIF.

To donate food, clothes and toys to those in need, stop by Denver's ChopHouse & Brewery, 1735 19th Street, on December 16, when Avalanche players will offer autographs and ogling opportunities to do-gooders dropping off stuff. The ChopHouse should be proud of itself: On Christmas Day, it'll serve free turkey dinners to residents of the Denver Rescue Mission, Samaritan House and the Gathering Place, among others. Employees will do the work--they're volunteering their time--and the Avalanche is helping sponsor the dinner.