Bite Me

Everyone is going Hollywood these days. First, Chipotle -- that home-grown chain of burrito joints that's slowly taking over the world with a little help from now-majority-owner McDonald's Corporation -- got a massive pop-culture bump on a recent episode of MTV's The Osbournes. Ozzy, everyone's favorite stumbling, stuttering, shuffling dad, who's probably most famous for biting the heads off a variety of living critters, was shown sinking his teeth into a one-pound burrito, courtesy of the Beverly Hills store. Actually, Ozzy (and the family pets) dug into several of them, and Ozzy's such a fan that the MTV production crew gave him a birthday gift of a lifetime supply of Chipotle burritos.

I would've called the bleeping Prince of bleeping Darkness for comment, but even when I watch the show, I have to keep the closed captioning switched on just so I can figure out what Ozzy's saying. So instead, I talked with Jim Adams, self-proclaimed "credible spokesman" for Chipotle, who gave me the history of Ozzy's relationship with the restaurant. "He started coming into the Beverly Hills location about a year ago, and I guess originally he just started getting chips and guac," Adams says. "Then he graduated to burritos, and not long after, we got the call."

MTV crew members asked if it would be all right if they filmed Ozzy in action at his favorite location, the Chipotle people said sure, and the rest is television history.

"We've been getting e-mails from people in parts of the country that don't even have Chipotles, asking when we're going to open one there," Adams says. "And MTV called us again later and asked if we could give Ozzy a birthday present. So we made him a card, a big card, that said, 'Happy Fucking Birthday'." Chipotle also made Señor Osbourne a stainless-steel card that guarantees him free burritos for life -- "or until he loses the card," Adams adds.

James Mazzio of Chefjam has stars in his eyes, too. He's put on his away-whites to cook for the stars attending the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The "Chefs and the Silver Screen" event pairs Mazzio (formerly of 15 Degrees and Triana, and dubbed "Best New Chef of 1999" by Food and Wine magazine) with Bill Hufferd of Utah's Riverhorse on the Green. The two chefs are putting together a stunning appetizer menu for festival-goers, which will include such high-end delights as Osetra caviar beggar's purses with crème fraiche, and quails Benedict with pancetta brioche.

Square deals: Big things are happening at Larimer Square. Last week I spent a good, long time gossiping with Joe Vostrejs, the Larimer Group's general manager, and the first thing I found out was that the space at 1424 Larimer, occupied until New Year's Day by the Little Russian Cafe, has been leased to Eric Roeder, who shut down his Micole last year. (That space on South Pearl Street is now ably filled by Lola.) Roeder will be doing "something small, intimate, authentic," promised Vostrejs. "Like Pastis in New York's meatpacking district or Le Petit Robert in San Francisco. Something really downscale and neighborhoody. There's a market for people looking for food that's familiar to them, just a place where you can go and get a great steak frites and some good, cheap French wine." Although Vostrejs was not ready to suggest when Roeder's classical French bistro will open, he did tell me that after Steve Ryan and the Little Russian Cafe cleared out, the place was essentially gutted to the rafters in preparation for its new occupant.

And while Ted's Montana Grill, which opened January 7 at 1401 Larimer, is just taking off, Vostrejs is already looking well into the future. "We undertook a repositioning effort about three years ago," he explained. "We wanted to diversify, to add boutiques and smaller restaurants. With Ted's, I was impressed by their commitment and the freshness of everything, and what we thought was missing from the market was something where the plates were about $10." Ted's fit that bill -- even though this eatery owned by Ted Turner's chain hardly qualifies as a "smaller" restaurant.

"We're shooting for the customer who's looking for a cool urban experience," Voestrejs said when asked for Larimer Square's five-year plan. "Something more like SoHo than your average restaurant row. Something that doesn't look like it was over-designed or stamped out of some corporate design factory. And I think we've come a ways."

Larimer Square's first repositioning move was to lure Richard Sandoval away from the coasts (he already had restaurants in New York and San Francisco) and get him to take a look at Denver, where he ultimately opened Tamayo at 1400 Larimer. "I'm really proud of that deal," Vostrejs told me. "It took so much work. But Richard's success has not gone unnoticed. I've been getting phone calls from some pretty interesting people. One in particular that you'd certainly recognize if I mentioned it."

But Vostrejs wasn't about to mention who that might be, beyond the tease that it's a New York group with which he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement before he could even talk with whoever-the-hell-it-is. Among the developments he can talk about is the Capitol Grill, a well-known power steakhouse based out of Atlanta, which will be moving into a new, single-story, 7,500-square-foot building going up in the vacant space next door to the Samba Room, at 1460 Larimer Street. And then there's Martini Ranch -- "Just sort of a cool bar with a dance room," according to Vostrejs -- that will take over the venerable old Soapy Smith's building around the corner from Ted's, at 1317 14th Street. Look for ground to be broken for the Capitol Grill's future home sometime in the next six months, and a September opening for the Ranch.

Leftovers: I recently lamented the loss of the Singapore Grill, because the Littleton restaurant was the only place in the area where I knew I could get roti canai -- that Malaysian/Indonesian pancake-style appetizer to which I'm so hopelessly addicted. However, sharp-eyed reader Margaret Chong informed me that I can still quell my longing with a trip to the Pacific Ocean Market, at 2200 West Alameda Avenue, which sells the Memori brand of puff paratha (aka roti canai). It costs just $2.09 for six of the little devils, and they're much easier to pan-fry than it would be to try the pull-and-throw routine involved in making roti yourself. In exchange for that suggestion, Chong has a request: If anyone knows where to find xiao long bao -- Shanghai soup dumplings -- drop me a line at Bite Me HQ so I can let her (and everyone else) know.

Speaking of roti and all things Singaporean, the Singapore Cafe, 3230 East Colfax Avenue, has apparently followed the Singapore Grill into the history books: The phone has been disconnected, and the property is listed for sale online.

Although the lights are off at Delhi Darbar (1514 Blake Street), there's no need to panic. The owners of the Indian institution are just indulging in a spate of remodeling, and their new, improved restaurant will debut on January 29 with a new look and a new name: India House.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan