Cafe Society

Mouthing Off

Where are they now?: Denver's frenetic dining scene makes it hard to keep track of chefs and restaurateurs, but some are worth tracking down. I'd heard that Christian Schmidt had been lured away from Baci (25958 Genesee Trail Road in Genesee), where he'd been quietly cooking up beautiful Italian food for nearly two years, by The Swan at the Inverness Hotel (200 Inverness Drive West in Englewood). But it turns out that while Schmidt has been hired as executive chef for all of the Inverness eateries, it's an administrative-type job that doesn't interfere with his work at Baci. "Christian has sous chefs at the Swan and the other restaurants who carry out the day-to-day stuff," explained the woman who answered the phone in Schmidt's Inverness office.

But some chefs really do move on. After Marvin Gardens closed two years ago, chef Marvin Bronstein headed for the hills, to cook in Peaceful Valley and enjoy the mountain life. Now Bronstein's back, but he didn't leave the mountains behind entirely: He's head chef at the Fancy Moose in the Regal Harvest House (1345 28th Street in Boulder). Formerly The Bistro, this hotel restaurant has been gutted and remodeled into what Bronstein calls a "mountain-lodge-type setting"; he'll be able to apply his considerable skills at mixing and matching international cuisines to the Moose's repertoire of game meats and rotisserie specialties. Look for pheasant, prime rib, duck and buffalo done on the rotisserie, along with a host of fusiony pastas, seafood and vegetarian dishes.

Another Boulder restaurateur, Sam Shreshtha, has moved his popular Narayan's Nepal up Pearl Street, from 921 to 1130. Shreshtha almost lost his shirt when he opened a second Narayan's on East Hampden in Denver last year (it closed rather quickly), but his new Nepalese outpost, Mt. Everest, is showing remarkable staying power at 1533 Champa Street.

Followers of the delicate French fare Mohammad Bazyar whipped up at Cafe de la Paix (a restaurant at 1500 West Littleton Boulevard in Littleton that's now owned by Seiad Alexander) will find all that and more--some Italian dishes, too--at his new venture: Cafe Monet in Parker, of all places (at 10471 South Parker Road). Why did Bazyar choose Parker? "I don't know," he says. "I've been asking myself the same question." Parker residents won't ask why--they'll just be grateful that Bazyar's there, since he could serve nothing but water and it would still be more flavorful than what Philomena's and the Black Marlin, the building's two former tenants, were dishing out.

Another restaurant-poor area, Westminster, has lucked into the expertise of Bert Gehorsam, former sommelier and co-manager of Cliff Young's, creator and past owner of Ward's Gold Lake Ranch and its Bearberry Restaurant and, most recently, director of operations for Kevin Taylor's corporation that owns Zenith and Dandelion. Gehorsam has opened Legacy Grill in the Legacy Ridge Golf Course (10801 Legacy Ridge Parkway), both of which are open to the public.

In a much more restaurant-heavy neighborhood, Nallen's Irish Pub has resurfaced, having closed its California Street spot last year. Now it sits at 1429 Market Street, right next to Old Chicago and across the street from Tommy Tsunami's, both of which are doing a brisk weekend business. The woman who answered the phone at Nallen's said the new site is "much better, really nice and comfortable." I hope the food is much better, too, because I had a horrible meal at the old place right before it closed.

Tinkering Taylor: Speaking of Zenith, a realtor buddy told me that not only is Taylor looking to move a reworked version of the revered restaurant to LoDo, but he's also planning to open a brasserie--not, however, in the current home of Zenith. Taylor, of course, says nothing more than "Nothing's final yet."

Meanwhile, a pair of Denver's heavy hitters, Mel and Janie Master, have pulled off two coups. First, while Esquire won't confirm it, word has it that the duo's Starfish (300 Fillmore) will be named in the magazine's annual list of the top 25 new restaurants in the country this November. And second, the Masters convinced Tyler Wiard, formerly of Napa Cafe, to man the kitchen at Mel's Bar and Grill (235 Fillmore)--one of Esquire's top 25 picks last year.


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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner