MOUTHING OFF

Read all about it: Pat "Gabby Gourmet" Miller's new dining guide is out--but it's mostly leftovers. With the exception of profiles of restaurants that have opened in the last two years, it's a rehash of the same reviews she and her husband, Mark, printed in the 1992 and 1993 editions. Some of the reviews are changed just enough (say, with a new intro line added) to make them appear fresh, but anyone with past copies won't be fooled.

There are also a few annoying inconsistencies in the book. For example, China Cowboy has a baby-pig symbol by its name, which indicates that it was too new to review. Yet Miller blasts Rick's Blue Water Grill, which opened months after China Cowboy did. That hardly seems fair. And, of course, knowing that she and Noel Cunningham are close personal friends makes you wonder about the "to die for" highest ratings Miller gives to all of his restaurants--Strings, Ciao! Baby and 240 Union--especially since she hands out only fourteen of those top honors for all of Denver. (It's also interesting to note that Cunningham gets new reviews every year.)

The disclaimer in the introduction is particularly curious. "Where we might otherwise have been recognized," the Millers write, "we sent `spies' to test the quality of food and service." I can't imagine that a restaurant in this town doesn't know who they are, particularly since they visit many of them to sell advertising for Gabby's radio show on KYBG-AM. She also allows many restaurants to pay for her meals (a fact of which I have firsthand knowledge, since I've worked in restaurants where she took freebies, nay, expected comp meals). Knowing that, it's hard for me to take this book seriously. Obviously, though, many others do: It hit No.1 on the local bestseller list.

If you feel like paying $7.95 to digest leftovers, be my guest.
Brew ha-ha: Also not to be taken too seriously are the advertisements for Coor's Extra Gold, where they use a "beer guy" who sounds like he comes from South Philly and has the IQ of a cheesesteak sandwich. He doesn't understand why anyone would drink beer out of a glass when there's a perfectly good bottle involved (hey, why not drink wine out of the bottle, too?). Every time I see someone with an Extra Gold in his hands, I want to ask if he identifies wit' dis guy. To make matters worse, the beer tastes like the sweat off a construction worker.

Savvier promotional tactics, and a better beer, are offered by Wynkoop Brewing Company, which just put out its Solstice Winter Ale. It's smooth, fairly hopsy and has a nice molasses-like aftertaste. I wish this place would work on its breads, though--a recent burger ($4.50) left me cold because of the funky wheat roll, and the brown bread served with the otherwise wonderful shepherd's pie ($6.25) is sooooo boring. I'd rather have the banana nut bread at B.J. Dunwoody's, a new restaurant serving breakfast and lunch at 2637 West 26th Avenue. Try the beef hash ($3.95) or the cheese tortellini with freshly made marinara sauce ($5.50); both are good. The owners say that members of the Dunwoody family (remember the soap?) have stopped by to give them their blessing--and offer a few leftover bars of soap.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner