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Swimming in gluttony at Jax Fish House

With Sheila Lucero in the kitchen, a meal at Jax goes swimmingly.

Once again, I find myself wishing I were a big fat man, one of those renowned, infamous gastronomes of old. I wish I were James Beard, who could put away a dozen oysters, a pound of Gulf shrimp, a whole chicken and maybe a few of its eggs, scrambled, as an appetizer. I wish I were Escoffier, who would sometimes serve a crown roast to his famous guests as a first course. I wish I were Johnny Apple of the New York Times, who was quite capable of “eating lunch at a three-star restaurant in the French countryside and, after an interval of only three hours, dinner at a brasserie in Lyon, narrating each dish as it came,” according to Adam Nagourney, a friend and fellow traveler. And those were no small dinners, either. Two hours, three, with multiple courses and flights of wine -- always the best of any house.

While I have known meals that lasted three, four and five hours, and gone into extra innings with courses ten-through-fourteen, I have almost always staggered away from those table groaning and wanting to die -- not expectantly looking forward to three hours hence when my body, having finished its work of digestion, will have me ready once more for another gigot of lamb, a whole roasted fish stuffed with mushrooms, a bucket of Puligny-Montrachet.

These days, only a few -- a very few -- restaurants inspire this desire for epic girth and appetite. Jax Fish House in LoDo is on the top of my short list. It’s been my guilty pleasure for years.

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And in this week's Cafe, I finally get around to reviewing Jax -- but first, there's a lot of talk about my dreams of radical corpulence, how I fantasize about being a man large enough to eat everything I want at a single sitting, to never leave a table feeling as though I’d missed a lick of anything.

But that's just the start of the journalistic gluttony. Over the last week, the Cafe Society blog has been full of openings and sudden closings, weird stories from the fringes of the industry and hammer blows struck right at its heart. In just a few days, we lost French 250, Mel’s Bistro, Gallagher’s and Valente’s. On balance came announcements that we’d soon be gaining a new restaurant from Mark Tarbell (of The Oven in Belmar), a noodle bar called Bones from Frank Bonanno, and a new boutique hotel/restaurant operation from Jesse Morreale and Sean Yontz (into whose former Chama space the new restaurant from Tarbell will be going). In Bite Me, I expand on the end of both Mel's and Brix, the Cherry Creek spot that Charlie Master, who was running Mel's in the end, had earlier opened with a man who turned out to be a poor choice for a partner.

Tthere's more good news, too: I finally had not one, but two good meals at Snooze, the focus of this week's Second Helping. And at the end of Bite Me, you'll find a real ray of hope for the town's best dim sum joint. -- Jason Sheehan

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