Strike while the irony is hot: Maybe it was only coincidence that the biggest freebie bash of the year, last Thursday's opening party for the new Rattlesnake Grill, was held on the same night as an open house at the Tivoli, where the original Rattlesnake Club once reigned supreme.

When chef and co-owner Jimmy Schmidt left the Tivoli, he took the Rattlesnake name with him. Now both are back, this time in Cherry Creek, in the old home of the Black Hawk Steakhouse. And yeah, the place is totally cool--and will give the next-door Sfuzzi a run for its money.

As for the Tivoli, it's now the hippest student union in the world, with several new restaurants (including The Daily Grind coffeehouse in the Rattlesnake's old digs) joining the movie theater, the Boiler Room and the New York Deli. Morton's of Chicago is still there, too, pending a move to 17th and Wynkoop.

Wild game: Sure, the other food writers told you about Denver Gourmet-opoly, but we actually played it (and I now owe my husband a six-pack for his participation). The game was created by Robert Evrard, a nice French fellow who's owned restaurants and decided to try something else after figuring out that being a restaurateur is a thankless job that robs you of all your time, money and sanity. What he came up with is another ripoff of Monopoly featuring Denver restaurants.

After trying for 45 minutes to figure out exactly what we were supposed to pay for each piece of property (the game is a variation on some investment/stock thing, and the closest we've come to a mutual fund is the big green jar we fill with change for gas money), we got down to business: I greedily bought up everything I landed on, while Doug slowly accumulated choice bits of property. It didn't matter, however, because soon we were trapped in gridlock, alternately paying each other almost every bit of money in our accounts. This went back and forth until we could stand it no more. In the end, though, you know exactly how it feels to own a restaurant, because chances are good that you're bankrupt.

The game does have one indisputable benefit: a card that entitles the bearer to 25 percent off one meal at each of the 34 restaurants on the board. Since most of them are places such as Tante Louise, Bombay Clay Oven and Yanni's, the game's $29.95 price tag could easily be recouped by those who dine out frequently.

Fat freedom: The sign outside Gourmet-opoly member Le Central offers an unlikely guarantee--eat there every day and the restaurant guarantees you a longer life. "We're capitalizing on what's been publicized as the `French paradox,'" says manager Sean Avery. "Eat tremendously fatty foods and drink wine and you will live forever." Of course, Avery admits that it could be tough cashing in on the guarantee--especially since you have to cash out to do it. "We realized that we are never going to compete with places like Healthy Habits," he adds. "So why fight it? Why not claim it as a virtue?"

The better to expand life expectancies, Le Central offers prix-fixe menus on Mondays and Tuesdays: all you can eat and drink for $18.95. Next week's Halloween-themed menu is promising, with blood sausage, octopus stewed in red wine, garlic over "devil's hair" pasta, and death-by-chocolate flourless cake. The wine will be a 1992 Cote du Lubron, also known as "blood wine.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner