Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Wienie roast: The current controversy engulfing Governor Roy Romer hasn't distracted him from all of his duties. The outcome of a friendly Super Bowl wager between Wisconsin governor and loyal cheesehead Tommy Thompson and Romer is even now being consumed at the Denver Rescue Mission: 32 pounds of cheese. And a big batch of brats is also en route to the same destination, says Romer spokesman Jim Carpenter. Had the Green Bay Packers beaten the Denver Broncos, Colorado would be sending Wisconsin a case of steaks.

While JV's The Cork has some kitchen problems to work out (see review above), it's already proved an important addition to the neighborhood around the Governor's Mansion. Not only has it become a local hangout, but the restaurant keeps in touch with its regulars via a monthly newsletter. Among other tidbits, the February edition includes a recipe for that terrific artichoke dip.

He's what you want: Too bad the vegetable industry doesn't have as colorful and charming a poster boy as Tommy Lee Jones, who was in Denver last week to talk to the folks attending the centennial convention of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Instead of Jones, who owns a cattle ranch near San Saba, Texas (and was once Al Gore's roommate at Yale), vegetarians have such charming representatives as the guy from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who spray-painted "Cow killers see you in hell" on the walkway outside the Colorado Convention Center. Class act.

Well, at least he wasn't as offensive as the anti-abortion fanatics who are driving around Denver in their "glory van" with the blown-up picture of a mangled, bloody dead baby on the side, which I saw parked outside a LoDo restaurant while I was eating lunch. Talk about an appetite suppressant.

(By the way, the Denver police officer who arrested the fellow who hung a banner over I-25 to protest the Stock Show was none other than Officer J.S. Blea, who arrested Westword's own Kenny Be last year for trespassing when he walked across the train tracks to get to work. The banner proclaimed that the Stock Show equaled death--and if you ate the latest food treat served there, it could be right. Called a "tornadough," it offered a wad of baked dough dipped in oil, then parmesan or cinnamon.)

Getting my Irish up: Kudos to Fado (pronounced f'doe), which just opened at 1745 19th Street. A peek inside found that it looks like an actual Irish pub, not some Disneyland concept of what an Irish pub should look like. The place is a mishmash of four pub styles: a cottage-style pub that you would find out in the middle of nowhere off one of Ireland's notoriously bad country roads; an upscale Victorian Dublin pub, the likes of which are currently frequented in Ireland by that country's version of yuppies; a Gaelic-style pub; and a pub shop. The menu offers the usual shepherd's pie and boxty, but I was sad to see the inclusion of corned beef and cabbage. As a Donovan on one side and a Kyle on the other (my Gaelic first name was taken from our family's last name), I can only quote what my Kilkenny-born grandmother purportedly said, Guinness in hand, when she encountered corned beef and cabbage for the first time...about three months after she arrived in this country: "What the hell is that?"

Really getting my Irish up: How awful that in the same week we lost Ed Maestas--owner of Johnnie's Market, 2030 Larimer Street, and crusader against letting downtown lose its homegrown charm--the Cheesecake Factory announced that, because of record sales at its 16th Street Mall store, the California-based company plans to open two more in the Denver area. Bleh.

Going global: Isn't anybody doing an event based on Mom, apple pie or Chevrolet? Venice comes to Denver via Piatti Restaurant (190 St. Paul Street) from February 16 to 28 for a take on the famed Carnevale. Special dinners and wine deals will be available for the two weeks; the highlight is a masked ball on February 24 that benefits Share Our Strength and Volunteers of America. Call 321-6973 for details. One of France's best exports, Chateau Latour Grand Vin, will be featured at a Palace Arms (in the Brown Palace) dinner honoring Frederic Engerer, Chateau Latour's director. He'll be there along with several of his best wines, including Les Forts de Latour 1970, Chateau Latour '85, '82, '78, '71, '67, '66 and '59, and Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 1963. Needless to say, this one's gonna cost ya: $350 per person. Call 297-3111 for reservations.

Then Australia gets its due at Dandelion (1011 Walnut Street in Boulder) on February 24. A tab of $65 per person buys a four-course meal and wines, along with some astute commentary by Boulder's own Sally Mohr, one of only four female master sommeliers in the United States. Dandelion will try Scotland on for size three days later, at a single-malt Scotch tasting; $25 per person nets six Scotches and appetizers. Call 443-6700 to make reservations for either event. What's left? Spain, of course, which will be the focus of a wine dinner at Mediterra (1475 Lawrence Street) on March 4. The cost is $50 per person, which includes a three-course meal, accompanying wines and a cream sherry. Call 623-2300 to get in.

Russia to judgment: So far, the private club/ caviar bar concept has laid an egg. Beluga (1523 Market Street) is now offering free thirty-day trial memberships for those who would like to "try it on" before plunking down the $600 required to join for a year. Call 607-9249 to get one.