I met Matt Franklin through his cuisine -- screwjack Californian with a heavy dose of Colorado pride and a squirrelly streak of fusion that should've made me want to throw something at his head but, instead, kept his style fresh and surprising. Under the neon, tile and blue Miami Vice lights at 240 Union in Lakewood, he made me amazing lobster corndogs, served in a plastic basket, with homemade coleslaw and a bag of Fritos. He also did cigars made out of duck meat and Camembert touched with sriracha; Colorado lamb brushed with apricot mustard on a mesquite grill in a one-off riff of California Cuisine transported across twenty years and a thousand miles; cioppino and roasted chicken and duck breast with sour cherry sauce; and a goat cheese-stuffed french toast that was one of the best things I ate in all of 2005....
Another favorite from another year: a simple, peasant plate of Littleneck clams, chorizo and potatoes in a broth of garlic, lemon and fresh thyme. It was a hot summer night in Denver in June 2008 and the room was full of rich men in golf shirts drinking hundred-dollar bottles of wine, but I might as well have been on the Cote d'Azur. I ordered three plates of bread just to mop up all the broth. By then, Franklin was cooking on the other side of town, at the Wine Experience Café out in the boonies of the Southland development.
And then, there was the meatloaf that Franklin made for me at Farro -- the newest suburban restaurant where Franklin has put down stakes. It was a brilliant meatloaf, a delicious meatloaf. It was a meatloaf that -- I won't lie to you -- I've had dreams about since I first tasted it at Farro a couple of weeks back.
Farro is an interesting restaurant and Matt Franklin is a fascinating guy -- one who I may not have paid enough attention to over the years, but one I'll certainly never overlook again. But his story isn't the only one in this week's Westword.
There's also news about the new Trattoria Stella opening in the former Cafe Star space; some talk about baseball, Harry Kalas and cheesesteaks; and then a return to yet another restaurant that I've been sadly lax in visiting over the past year or so: Bistro Vendome. I had an amazing bearnaise sauce there, a beautiful plate of classic steak frites, perfectly prepared French lentils.
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All of this (and more) will hit the streets (and this site) tomorrow. In the meantime, you can keep track of all the restaurant news that matters right here at Cafe Society.