Second Helpings


Before it opened, Snooze seemed like one of the greatest ideas in the world -- a hip, eclectic downtown breakfast bar with fancy pancakes, a jumped-up menu of comfort classics and incredible late-night hours on the weekends. A place where we could get bacon and eggs at 3 a.m. and strong coffee (with maybe a little hair of the dog) at dawn. Owner Jon Schlegel's vision sounded like exactly what Denver needed.

But when Snooze finally opened, it didn't deliver on that promise. While the space was undeniably cool, with its retro/deco details and swooping, organic curves, there were service problems, the menu lineup ranged from perplexing (what, no eggs Benny?) to just plain bad (brûlée oatmeal that tasted like sugared wallpaper paste), and the weekend all-nighters were delayed. Those hours were eventually added -- but a couple of months ago, Snooze reverted to a more standard breakfast and lunch schedule.

Snooze was crowded when I stopped by for breakfast last week, but the service has improved, and we were treated well by both our waitress and the bartender. Unfortunately, the kitchen hasn't gotten it together. While the variety and reach of the menu might be a little better, its actual execution is still an embarrassment. I mean, how do you fuck up corned beef hash? Snooze figured out a way: by rough-chopping big cubes of poorly trimmed brisket, mixing it with mushy, leftover potatoes, adding green onions and dill and cooking it like it was some kind of Irish crabcake -- as a patty, fried on the flat grill. How do you blow a hollandaise? By letting it break on the line and then serving it anyway. How do you screw up a tortilla? By somehow -- and I don't even know how this is possible -- making it gooey. The pancakes were fine, but pancakes were never a problem at Snooze.

It's easy to make an idea sound good -- with an idea, no one has to worry about paying the rent, filling the seats or trimming the fat off the brisket. But when you try to make an idea -- even a very good idea -- into reality, that's when the trouble starts. And at Snooze, it's not over yet.

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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan