Bad Chi

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Finally, others commenting online have accused me of being crass and derogatory at best, and at worst, an out-and-out racist -- all because I dared use the phrase "yellow man's culture." As with all excerpts, a little context is vital. Here's how I used it: "The menu was a nightmare of Sisyphean proportions, the kind of hell to which I've long feared I will someday be consigned, where every surefire, guaranteed, dim-witted and just flat goofy crowd-pleaser of a dish stolen from the Asians over the past fifty years has been re-concepted, dumbed down and fucked up, uncomfortably wedded to some recognizable American food item with all the grace and subtlety of a shotgun service, and thrown out there for the gnashing pleasure of stick-thin yuppies, holiday window shoppers with more credit than smarts, and brain-damaged foodies who believe that eating a lettuce wrap in Wash Park really puts them in touch with 10,000 years of the yellow man's culture."

Crass? Yes. Derogatory? Only toward those self-professed "foodies" who can tell you everything that's on the menu at Frasca, think they're personal friends of Frank Bonanno just because they go to Mizuna twice a year, and believe that Tamayo is "edgy" because half the menu is in Spanish -- but have never set foot inside the ungentrified little mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurant next door to their million-dollar loft. As for racist, if someone from the Asia-Pacific news service were to offer me a gig tomorrow writing about the foods of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia with the only complication being that I'd have to share a one-bedroom apartment in Pyongyang with all the other members of the Pacific Rim press corps, I'd head for the airport so fast all you'd see is a me-shaped hole in the wall and the smoke left by my sneakers.

Leftovers: Although Denver Restaurant Week absorbed everyone's attention last week, other things were shaking on the scene. It appears that Cuba Libre, Littleton's surprisingly enormous Cuban restaurant with the imaginary nouvelle Cubano menu ("Running on Empty," March 16, 2006) that was once overseen by chef John Daly, has closed. Ditto for its basement sushi bar, I-Zen. The phones have been disconnected and the websites taken down -- which are never signs of anything good.

In the Golden Triangle, Bambino's has thrown in the towel. According to the Canino family, an un-renewed lease did this location in -- and they say they're in the market for a new one. I know, I know: Everyone says they're in the market for a new location when they finally lock the doors behind them. But while most restaurants never get a second life, the folks behind Vita Bella ("All in the Familia," November 14, 2002) may resurrect the concept as Salvatore's Vita Bella Ristorante in a new spot, at 4550 South Kipling Street.

And finally, for those of you who know from good coffee, great news: Dunkin' Brands (parent company of Dunkin' Donuts) recently cut a deal with Procter & Gamble that will allow the company to sell bags of its coffee at grocery stores across the United States. Why is this a big deal? Dunkin' Donuts makes wicked, 100 percent arabica coffee that's the secret, shameful addiction of many transplanted East Coasters. Up until now, I had to stock up every time I went back home and then carry the one-pound bags wrapped up in my luggage like some kinda drug mule. But not anymore. No word yet on when the coffee will be available locally, but you can bet your ass I'll know the minute it hits the shelves.

Finally, this past Saturday, Greg Goldfogel, who'd opened Alto just a month ago in the former Sambuca space on 15th Street, closed down Ristorante Amore, at 2355 East Third Avenue. The closure came with little warning -- other than the fact that counts at the Cherry Creek location have been way down since the announcement was made that the building had been sold and Goldfogel would have to clear out by June, anyway, to make way for a corporate chain restaurant.

But this news isn't all bad. Because while Amore barely managed a single turn of its dining room last Friday night, Alto pushed 260 covers. And the next day, when Goldfogel finally decided to stop the bleeding (he admits that babysitting Alto through those all-important first months helped hasten Amore's end), Amore was dark while Alto was completely sold out for a private shindig.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan