MOUTHING OFF

The mold and the beautiful: Last week, during an otherwise wonderful tapas experience in Ranelle's at 2390 South Downing, I popped a stuffed mushroom in my mouth, only to pop it back out again when I realized it had turned into a flu remedy. Although the waitress kindly took the mushrooms off the bill, I don't think she realized that the slimy stuff had touched other food on the platter--no matter what I bit into, I couldn't shake that awful taste.

Too bad, because otherwise, the rest of the items would have been just dandy: a crostini layered with cream cheese and roasted onions and peppers, heavenly chunks of roasted eggplant, a vinegary vegetable salad and a batch of mussels and clams. It was wonderful to find true tapas in this town, but since this rotten-food thing followed closely on the heels of another recent encounter, I'd like to send a plea for kitchen staff to give things a good sniff so diners' appetites don't get snuffed.

Speaking of snuffed, we'll likely be saying a not-too-fond farewell to Stan's Metro Deli in Cherry Creek North--the closed doors are plastered with notices of unpaid-tax charges. And word is that, while taxes aren't the problem, China Cowboy, at 233 East Colfax, may also shut down. Since Billy Lam rode off into the sunset, the place has been nearly empty on a daily basis, and now it's emptier still since Lam returned one day last week to remove the trademark cowboy made of broken china. A few weeks ago I received an impassioned plea from a Cowboy employee asking me to do something to help them out, but I think it's hopeless--the location stinks, and so does the bizarre lunch buffet of Asian, Mexican and Italian food.

One guy who doesn't need my help is Yanni Stavropoulos, whose Yanni's, on South Monaco Parkway, and Yanni's Express, at 10270 West Colfax in Lakewood, are always hopping. And with good reason--they put out great Greek food. Now Stavropoulos has branched out, and he and a group of investors have opened Steamers farther down Colfax in Golden, where once stood a Peppermill. As the name suggests, Steamers has clams and mussels and lots of seafood.

Seafood also heads the menu at Sato Sushi Bar, 8800 East Hampden, in what was the old (and odd) Don Don. Up the street, at 7180 East Hampden, Bianco's owner Fred White thinks it's safer to go with beef. He's added the word "Steakhouse" to his restaurant's name and dropped the pizza-and-pasta repertoire in favor of certified Angus beef. And the new House of Bun-buster, at 8800 East Colfax--in what used to be a Rockin' Robin (the sign hasn't changed yet)--apparently feels the same way. Bun-buster is putting out a full rack of ribs for $8, but the real draw is the 94.7 percent lean burger that's been approved by HealthMark.

Let's hope they're treating carnivores better than fellow meat hustler Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I'd heard rumors that less-well-dressed folks were being snubbed by the LoDo restaurant, so I checked it out. When I stopped by the other day--decked out in jeans and a T-shirt--to inquire about reservations, the gentleman at the door gave me a cold look and told me I'd have to call later. He said he was too busy to check right then.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner