Ambria switched chefs at a bad time...but was the change for the good?

Ambria, which opened last November, was on our short list of contenders for Best New Restaurant in the Best of Denver 2012 -- until, just days after a marvelous meal there and a few weeks before the issue was going to press, chef/part-owner Jeremy Kittelson was fired, and partners Steve Halliday and Rich Manzo installed Gabe Balenzuela in the kitchen.

While Manzo assured me that Balenzuela was keeping Ambria's "American cuisine with Mediterranean inspirations" (with perhaps some more seafood, since he came from Oceanaire), and moving forward with changes and improvements, the shift knocked Ambria out of the running for Best New Restaurant, since we generally give new restaurants or places with major changes -- and a new chef definitely qualifies -- at least two months before reviewing them or considering them for an award.

Balenzuela has now been at Ambria for just about three months. So for this week's review, I returned to the restaurant on the 16th Street Mall to see what he'd done with the menu.

Ambria switched chefs at a bad time -- but was the change for the good? Find out tomorrow when the review is posted here.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk