Mini Bar set to open in April

"I just got an offer to be the personal chef for the McCain family!" wrote Michel Wahaltere on his Facebook page. And, yes, he was talking about that McCain family, the one whose dithering patriarch lost the 2008 presidential election in a landslide.

You know how just before you puke, you get that burning sensation in the back of your throat? That's what happened to me when I read Wahaltere's announcement. I was simultaneously shocked and appalled. And befuddled. See, Wahaltere, the former chef at 5 Degrees-Amuse by Michel, and before that, the 9th Door and Campo de Fiori, is a staunch Obama supporter. He quotes the prez like a priest parrots the Bible. He cried like a baby when Obama kicked McCain's ass. He loves the guy.

Plus, so far as I knew, Wahaltere was busy with Mini Bar, a Cherry Creek restaurant and lounge that's scheduled to open at 222 Columbine Street, just below the vacated Village Inn.

Turns out, of course, that the joke was on me -- and everyone else who had posted messages of congratulations and sympathy on Wahaltere's Facebook page. "It's an April Fool's joke," he finally admitted. "Don't worry," he continued, "I I love the restaurant business too much to leave, and I'm such an Obama fan that you couldn't pay me to cook for McCain."

Thank god for that.


When he's not pulling pranks, Wahaltere really is gearing up for the unleashing of Mini Bar, which is slated for a late April debut. It's a "tiny slip of space" --  twenty feet wide, to be exact -- that will "bring New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco energy to the Cherry Creek restaurant scene," says Wahaltere, who is taking on the roles of consultant, manager and exec chef.

As for the menu, Wahaltere described it as "full of eclectic, cross-cultural and modern small plates that will pair well with our great wines and classic cocktails." What's on the board? Shrimp escabeche, salmon piadine, salumi and cheese boards, steak tartare and bacon wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with fontina cheese.

When Mini Bar opens, it'll serve the full menu until midnight Monday through Friday, and until 1:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

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