Being a restaurant critic is a bit like being a colander. Every time I enter a restaurant, I'm filling myself up, both literally and figuratively, with thoughts about everything from how the sauce tasted to lighting and noise levels to whether or not the server knew his stuff. When it's time to write, I pour out all my observations and experiences and wait to see what drains away. What's left is where the story is, in the moments that are memorable and noteworthy enough to characterize a restaurant.
So as the countdown to my 100th review continues, I've pulled out a different colander, an industrial-sized one that's big enough to strain out the week-in, week-out details. The list that follows is some of what's left in the bowl after two years of professional eating.
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1) Things change. Quickly. East Denver is no longer a food desert. Ballpark is hotter than Highland. 2) Success requires more than a talented chef. Exhibits A and B: Bocadillo and Red Star Deli, which shuttered despite good food. 3) Forget what Mom said about not dating at work. The folks at Work & Class and Bistro Barbes have debunked that myth. (If my husband decides to debunk it, that's another story.) Keep reading for three more observations about dining in Denver. 4) New restaurants get the buzz, but that doesn't make them better than old ones. Panzano, Rioja, ChoLon -- all are worth a return visit. 5) The city could still use more Indian, Moroccan and Thai. 6) Concepts are nothing without good food to back them up.