Keith Arnold, Stephanie Bonin, John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hissom.
Keith Arnold, Stephanie Bonin, John Broening and Yasmin Lozada-Hissom.

Before Olivea, there was Duo -- created by the same talented foursome

Eating John Broening's food at Olivea made me think about his other kitchen -- the one at Duo. Duo is...how do I even describe it without it coming out all wrong?

For a guy like me -- terminally overfed, always on the hunt, cruising Denver's restaurant scene like a shark who'll die if he stops moving -- Duo is so good I can forget about it. It's a restaurant I never have to worry about--an absolutely fantastic little neighborhood place competing well in a neighborhood full of serious comers, doing incredibly smart American cuisine with a depth of technique like a thousand-foot well.

I could go to Duo, eat a meal there, love it, rave about it to friends, then promptly not write about it. Because I didn't have to. Duo would always be there. It would always be as good. Pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom was brilliant. Broening was like a rock -- stable, indomitable, change measured in eons.

As I write in this week's review of Olivea, years gone from my first meal at Duo, I can still recall a side of hash browns that Broening made for me. They were the best hash browns I'd ever had. And as much as I would've liked to remind people about that every month or so for five years, that wouldn't have been appropriate. Or necessary. Duo did just fine without me ever saying a word about it. So did Broening and Lozada-Hissom and Stephanie Bonin and Keith Arnold, who owned the place.

And even now that Olivea has gotten open and found its footing -- even now that Broening has his attentions split across two different kitchens and two different crews -- I remain confident that Duo will do just fine. I'll probably get back there soon just just to poke around a little and make sure everything is up to snuff.

But honestly, I'm not worried. I fully expect that the next time I eat there, it will be just as good as it has always been.

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