Letters to the Editor

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We have all read Kitchen Confidential, Jason; it's a great book. It was a fresh voice at the time, and an incredibly definitive writing style. Your infatuation with being Anthony Bourdain is so obvious that it hurts to watch. Your mishaps at some second-rate South Florida restaurant do not give you the wealth of experience or understanding of an Anthony Bourdain or, in that case, most of the chefs in Denver you review in your column.

So after reading this review of Rhumba ("Going Nowhere," April 17), I thought long and hard about how to respond without sounding like the jilted lover made to look the fool. The best response to something like this is normally no response, but the gloves came off with this one. You crossed the line. You are a mildly educated food critic who couldn't handle the demands and pace of a professional kitchen and now shows up only for dinner to voice your opinion on what we do 24/7. Your Howard Stern approach might push circulation, but amongst many in this professional culinary community, you are a putz. Your reviews directly affect the lives of very hardworking people and your characterizations of my staff, both front and back of the house, could not be more flawed. There are hundreds of customers on a daily basis who would strongly disagree with your assessment of what we are about at Rhumba. It is a four-year-old restaurant that has been wildly popular since day one and has received great reviews. So the title "Going Nowhere" couldn't look more ridiculous to the huge number of regulars we serve every day.

There are a lot of us independent restaurant owners who have been working very hard to establish Denver as a serious dining destination on the national map for many years -- for me, starting at time when you were still in fucking Huggies. In many articles, you continue to go way beyond what is appropriate and personally and aggressively attack the restaurants you review in the self- indulgent pursuit of being the bad boy. You're not. You're like a gnat on an elephant's ass, Jason, hardly worth the effort.

Maybe you should cook for a few of us, like Bill St. John did to establish his credibility. We'll review you and see how it goes. For now, we will look hard at what we do, make needed changes and in the end become an even better restaurant. As for you, you'll still be an idiot, and Westword should realize the ride it's on with you.

Dave Query
Rhumba, Zolo, Jax, Lola

Trash Landing

Bush league: In David Holthouse's "Want Flies With That?," his April 17 article on the backyard habitat at a McDonald's on Colorado Boulevard, he wrote that it "looks like it was landscaped by a couple of crystal-meth smokers on a midnight Home Depot binge." Although I enjoyed his sarcastic description, I wanted to respond to the charge, having been the designer for the project.

Mr. Asfaw may have spent more on this project than at his other McDonald's locations because of the number of plants installed. The perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees were chosen for their attractiveness to wildlife. Where that wildlife would come from was debatable. Nonetheless, the birds, butterflies and bees could at least find solace that would have been unavailable with the typical tree lawn. I applaud Mr. Asfaw for taking the risk of installing a landscape that was intended to serve as a habitat, as well as being drought-resistant.

The problem is that even with detailed maintenance instructions, the landscape has not been cared for in the fashion that would create a true habitat. Landscape designers forever deal with their designs losing practical and aesthetic components once issues of the economy or management impact their maintenance and preservation. The shrubs and ornamental grasses should have been allowed to grow naturally, to provide cover and seed pods throughout the year. Tall shrubs and grasses originally surrounded the birdbath. I have seen the landscape fill out over the years, but unfortunately, most of the shrubs are now being pruned into globes, which limits their attractiveness. Some of the trees have been lost and not replaced. The grasses have been cut back, whereas the accepted notion is that they look great through the winter left unpruned and should only be cut back in spring.

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