If I were Proust, the smell of cheap steaks charring on an overworked grill would be my Madeleine -- the trigger for a crashing flood of recall, of me in the warm comfort of boyhood. And walking past the back door of the Columbine Steak House, I get a whiff of it. Just a hint -- a trick of the breeze sucking a breath of blood and smoke and fire out through the open door where a busboy stands smoking a cigarette in the afternoon sun -- but it is enough to stop me in my tracks and nearly drive me to my knees from the weight of memory. The scratched black paint of Dad's grill. The pop and hiss of him opening his can of Genny Cream. The taste of bloody, low-rent beef on my tongue.
The Columbine Steak House. We've all been there -- or to a place like it. We all know what to expect. Good steaks at low prices, pure iceberg salads, a twenty-minute lunch break wonder of efficiency and thrift. What I wasn't expecting were the memories, the quick-payback flash of me as a kid, waiting on steak night at the Sheehan household. I love the Columbine, but I love what the Columbine reminds me of even more. And that's what this week's review is about.
In the column, a different kind of memory -- this one about a great meal from a couple years back, at Tin Star up in Evergreen. They've got some new menu items coming on board starting May 1, so start drooling now. Also coming on Wednesday, a report on the micro-distillery boom in Colorado -- and just another excuse for me to drink on company time.
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For those of you who can never get quite enough steak talk, this week's Second Helping is a return to one of the very few other places in Denver to get a good steak, cheap: Cowboba's. So yeah. In short, it was a real good week for me. And you can read all about it, right here tomorrow.