While the study didn't make any link between sex-changing amphibians and the possibility of adverse effects of atrazine on humans, it did make me think that maybe this organic thing isn't such a bad idea after all. In checking sites from Iowa to Utah, researchers found that 92 percent of male frogs living in contaminated environments had abnormal gonads. While the results of this study are still hotly debated, I think we already know one thing for sure: The worst job in the world has to be frog-gonad checker.
Another coffee break: Recently, Vail Mountain Coffee Roasters, which has been feeding Colorado's caffeine jones since 1989, changed its name to Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea Company and expanded its selection to include high-quality, loose-leaf teas in addition to java. Over thirty varieties of teas from around the world are available, both in retail size and one-pound bags, and you can find out all you need to know about where to buy them at www.vailcoffee.com.
Or you can just sit in one of Denver's billions of coffeehouses and order a cup of joe. New additions to the lineup include Java Moon, finally open at 1116 Broadway, and Metropolis, now pouring at 300 West 11th Avenue, just two blocks away from relative newcomer Walkups Coffee and Deli, at 920 Speer Boulevard.
Leftovers: This past weekend saw another major closing when Dandelion (1011 Walnut Street, Boulder) was picked off. And it wasn't a pretty scene, either. Before dinner last Thursday, chef-owner Kevin Taylor informed staffers that the seven-year-old Dandelion would be shutting down and asked that they help keep the place open through Saturday. They refused. Although he offered to pay his staff for an additional week while they were out looking for work, "the chefs decided themselves not to open," Taylor says.
Pressed for details, Taylor insists he doesn't want to get into a lot of who-said-what-to-whom-name-calling, but he does add that executive chef Zack Stoughton "just blew up. He was incredibly angry." And that walkout, he says, "was a big 'F-you' to me, but whatever...." Dandelion served its last plate on Thursday; by Friday afternoon, the dining room was dark, with a message on the answering machine noting that "Dandelion is closed" and then giving a number for anyone with billing problems.
Taylor and partner Tony Cardone had debated closing the restaurant for about a year. "We were down about 35 percent over the last eighteen months, and I'm certainly not making a 35 percent profit there," Taylor explains. After Boulder's economy hit the skids in March 2001, he saw a 15-20 percent drop in business over one sixty-day period. And then came September 11. They made attempts to try to save the declining business -- price reductions, adding a happy-hour menu, moving away from the formal-dining feel -- but in the end, none of them made the crucial difference. "We had five and a half really good years, but the last eighteen months were pretty bad," says Taylor. "I'm really proud of the work we did here, and I'm really proud of the staff. I'm just sorry we couldn't make enough changes quick enough."
The closure leaves the acclaimed chef retrenching in Denver with four restaurants remaining in his empire: Nicois (815 17th Street) and Palettes at the Denver Art Museum (100 West 14th Avenue Parkway) -- both of which continue to offer that unbeatable, bottomless-wineglass dinner for $35 (Dandelion featured the special, too) -- and Restaurant Kevin Taylor and jou jou (both in the Hotel Teatro, at 1106 14th Street).
Also closing its doors this past Sunday was Nate's Contemporary American Cafe, at the 275 South Logan Street address that had been home to the D.C. Deli. "It has been a wonderful experience and the most difficult year of our lives," wrote owners Dave and Kelli Nicholson -- whose baby son, Nate, made his debut almost simultaneously with his namesake restaurant. "Unfortunately, these hard times have kept us from being able to keep Nate's going."
Red Rocks Grille is now open in Lakewood's Sheraton Denver West. Formerly Rennicks and the Federal Grill -- and not to be confused with the Red Rocks Grill, at 415 Bear Creek Boulevard in Morrison (guess the "e" makes all the difference at the trademark office) -- the space has been redesigned and, like all Sheraton hotel restaurants, has a new menu of comfort foods. "It's just really going back to basics," according to food-and-beverage director Jason Morse. Starting in January, Red Rocks will be offering "food and wine tours," with seasonal menus featuring paired wines, appetizers and entrees.