While I savored this delicious dish, I looked over the new menu. Although Cliff's gets a lot of business from out-of-towners, locals still consider it a special-occasion kind of place, Sale says, and the restaurant is trying to appeal more to the Denver crowd. If so, I have some advice: Lower the prices. Of the eleven entrees on the menu, only three cost less than $24.
Sad hour is more like it: My quest for gratis grub keeps turning up duds, including two recent disappointments--Marina Landing, at 8101 East Belleview, and the Mall Exchange, at 1585 Lawrence. On the evening I visited, Marina Landing offered canned nacho cheese with tortilla chips, two party trays of cubed cheese food and fresh veggies, some limp chicken wings and spicy kielbasa goop. Although a colleague had raved about the free Mexican spread the Mall Exchange often lays out, when I went I encountered watery, previously frozen crab legs that you had to chew the shells from, a strange warm rice mess, dried-out fish chunks and several uninspired salads. Hey, whaddaya want for free? At least the Mall Exchange has a classy atmosphere, and it's your best bet for finding an open outdoor table on a Friday afternoon--prime people-watching time on the Mall.
'Tis the season: Cliff's isn't the place to offer a summer menu--I've been inundated with seasonal rosters. One place that's changed its menu for good, though, is the Wynkoop Brewing Company--on a recent visit I found the new gazpacho soup ($1.50/cup) a welcome addition to the lineup, with its chilled, chunky vegetables and vinegar bite. I wasn't happy with the updated Koop Krab cakes ($6.50), though. They're so thin that the center dries out from the grilling, and the red bell pepper mayo also contains plenty of red chile peppers, whose heat overwhelms the cakes.
Wine alerts: On June 7 Tante Louise will be pouring seven vintage 1955 wines at a six-course, $120 wine dinner. If you have the thirst--and the bucks--call 355-4488. Wines for Life, which bills itself as "the largest single-day wine, beer and food extravaganza," complete with cooking demonstrations, a wine auction and two dozen restaurant booths, comes to the Holiday Inn East on June 12. Proceeds from this thirteenth annual benefit go to the University of Colorado Cancer Center; for information call 371-3421.