Santa Baby...

Hey, big guy, I wanted to drop you a line and see how things are going up at the North Pole. How's the wife? Reindeers healthy, I hope? Everything good with the elves?

Okay. Enough about you. Let's talk about me. I don't mean to be a dick or anything, but I couldn't help but notice that several of my Christmas wishes from years past have yet to be granted. For example, I can't help but notice that the myriad Olive Garden locations in Colorado have not been destroyed by mysterious fires or crushed by freak meteor showers; in fact, they all seem to be doing well. What's up with that? I leave you milk and cookies. I put out organic carrots for your reindeer and never complain about them crapping all over my roof. I try to be a good boy all year (I admit I may not succeed, but I do try). Apparently, that's not enough.

Maybe the guys from Olive Garden are offering you more. Is that it? Tell me what they've got on the table and I'll match it. Booze, hookers, a sack full of cash -- these things can be arranged, Santa, and no one has to know. I mean, look how long Ted Haggard got away with it. And you're Santa Claus, ferchrissakes. I think we can work something out here.

And I know, I know...apocalyptic violence isn't really your thing. I've talked to Jesus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and they all say the same. But frankly, I'm down to negotiating with guys like the Arbor Day Goblin and this is not the kind of job I want to lowball. So make your play, Claus; let's see if we can get this done. In the meantime, I have a few new requests this year.

First, the selfish stuff. I'd like scientists at NASA to discover another planet surprisingly close to Earth -- just a couple of hours by rocket or something. This new planet should be all lush and verdant, filled with wise, talking animals and mountain springs. There should be trees that grow hemp sandals, breezes that smell of patchouli and a firm, planet-wide no-smoking policy. Upon its discovery, this new world will seem so idyllic that all PETA supporters, body nazis, anti-smoking zealots and politicians who voted in favor of banning foie gras, trans fats, cigarettes, junk food, raw milk, etc., will build themselves a giant spaceship and emigrate, en masse. There will be moving speeches on the launch pad, proclamations that this planet will forever be kept as a haven for healthy, moral, right-thinking and herbivorous people. Then they'll leave. All of them.

And when they disembark at their new home, they'll realize too late that all the cows and geese and ducks are carnivorous and think political activists are delicious.

I understand this one might take a little work, Santa. But I believe in you.

I'd also like Iron Chef Morimoto to open his second U.S. location in the strip mall across the street from my house. I know this year a lot of my fellow Denverites are probably asking you for the Democratic National Convention, but ignore them. I've been duly authorized by the Denver Council on Figments and Imaginary Friends to broker a trade. New York gets the Dems; we get Morimoto. Trust me, everyone will be cool with this. Also, as part of the deal, Bobby Flay gets deported to Japan. By way of the Bermuda Triangle.

My other local wishes are simpler. I'd like Continuum/East West, the group picked to handle the redevelopment of Union Station, to realize that it would be wicked cool to build a huge, indoor, year-round market on the grounds. I'm not talking some piddly little parking-lot farmers' market, but a big enterprise -- a place that opens early for the professionals, stays open into the afternoon for the civilians and supports a whole second-growth network of small restaurants and cafes on the grounds. We've proven that farmers' markets can be viable when run right. We've certainly proven that both chefs and diners in town appreciate (and are willing to pay for) freshness, locality and the kind of inspiration that comes from a white jacket tromping the streets at dawn, fondling the scapes and sniffing the wild strawberries. Denver needs this.

I'd like a couple more restaurants like the Palace Arms (reviewed on page 45), places where ridiculous amounts of cash can buy ridiculous culinary (or oenophilic) kicks for the moneyed elite and where reasonable amounts of cash can still buy moments of bliss for gastronauts of all description. I'd like a couple more addresses where men and women dress for dinner and are treated accordingly, where jackets and top hats would not be entirely out of place. Also, I'd like a top hat.

I'd like Olav Peterson, ex of Euro, to find a gig in a good kitchen somewhere (he's been out for about three months now, let go under preposterous circumstances that Peterson himself, wisely, doesn't want in print) and for Euro itself to get its act together before it wrecks any more careers. I'd like a little luck for Adam Mali and the Master clan at Montecito (1120 East Sixth Avenue), which opened last Friday with prodigal son Charlie Master (of Brix and its clones) working the floor. Charlie has pulled out of Brix almost completely in order to help his folks, Mel and Jane, at the new place, and I'm hoping for the best for all concerned. Ditto for the guys at Fruition, about to open in the old Somethin' Else space at 1313 East Sixth. And for the Lawlers, who are taking over the Truffle. And everyone at Lime XS (730 East Sixth), where I hear business is slamming. For four years now, I've been betting on Sixth Avenue as the next big restaurant neighborhood -- and I've lost four years running. But I'm thinking this is gonna be my year.

Finally, Santa, I'd like one thing just for me: I want to go through all of 2007 without food poisoning.

Well, that and maybe a box of macaroons from the Palace Arms.

Merry Christmas.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan