The Bite

Let the games begin: While Holoworld (see review) caters to families with its volcano and retro-future thing, Dave & Buster's (1940 South Colorado and 10667 Westminster Boulevard in Broomfield) has more of a gentleman's-club-wannabe feel, with wood-and-chrome-lined rooms filled with pool tables, video games and virtual-reality simulators. And while people do take their kids there, Dave & Buster's isn't all that kid-friendly -- it's expensive, the games are geared toward teens (and above), and a bar in the middle of the main gaming room turns the place into more of a club after dark.

Even the kids' menu shouts "Stay away!" Five items are available, including a too-greasy grilled cheese ($3.95) and a cheeseburger ($4.95) that the kitchen at the three-year-old Denver location couldn't seem to cook medium. When it arrived very, very rare in the middle, I sent it back, only to have it return looking like a charcoal briquette.

At least the adult meals were better -- and it's cool that you can get the full menu at a table next to your billiards game. The appetizers were the real standouts, just the sort of food you want in a place that beeps, bleeps and rings throughout the meal. We hit the jackpot with the supreme nachos ($6.95), a pile of chips, soft black beans, very spicy beef, Jack and cheddar cheeses, guacamole (overly creamy, but with a nice garlic bite), sour cream and jalapeños. The potstickers ($6.50) were a surprising sight on the menu, and even more surprising in reality: fat, steaming-hot, pan-fried bundles filled with five-spiced pork and served with a sweet dipping sauce. The cheese-gooey spinach-and-artichoke dip ($6.50) was an above-average version of this standard, although it would have worked better with baguette slices or toast points than it did with chips (and what was up with the little bowl of canned salsa that also arrived with the dip?).

Virtual reality can bite, though: Food, four beers, two Cokes and two hours of two adults and two kids playing games added up to a whopping $150.

You might want to leave the kids at home when you head to Red & Jerry's (1840 West Oxford Avenue in Sheridan), because in addition to the types of games you find at Holoworld and Dave & Buster's, including pool, Red & Jerry's also features very adult off-track wagering. But your best bet still may be the Fanatix Sports Grill, the eatery nestled in R&J's vast betting hall. The excellent sandwiches (they've netted the place several Best of Denver awards) each run $7.50 (fries and a pickle included). Or check out the fiery, cheese-smothered Caliente Burger for $7.95. Score!

Open-and-shut cases: The abrupt sale of Chavez Mexican Foods (4835 West 38th Avenue) wasn't the only bad news on the Denver dining scene last week (The Bite, January 11). Fine Dining of Denver, which had been operating a mostly takeout-and-delivery place (you could eat in, but only if you got there early) at 1135 Bannock, also closed its doors -- and with it went all hopes for a second location at 2817 East Third Avenue. Even Fine Dining's short-lived, odd little lunchtime outpost inside the Collection, 899 Broadway, is no more. But Fine Dining's answering-machine message says it will still offer corporate catering, so you may yet get a chance to sample that wonderful sandwich of prime rib with homemade mustard.

Also say adios to Anita's Crab Shack (1801 Wynkoop), which had been floundering since the day it opened back in 1999 in the Icehouse space that had been occupied -- also briefly -- by Cucina! Cucina! Add these deaths to the already announced closings of The Biscuit and Cadillac Ranch, and 2001 looks to have a high restaurant mortality rate.

But there's some good news, too. The second location of another downtown lunch favorite, The Spicy Pickle (988 Lincoln), is up and running in the old home of Moe's Broadway Bagels at 745 Colorado Boulevard; this incarnation is a bit more upscale than the original. And a promising new wine shop, Reservelist (8000 East Belleview in Greenwood Village), opens tomorrow; it's run by sommelier Chris Farnum and conveniently sits next to one of my favorite cheese places, Cook's Fresh Market. -- Kyle Wagner

Culinary Calendar

January 20: Beerdrinker of the Year National Finals. Showdown between beer-drinking finalists Tom Ciccateri, Cornelia Corey and Gary Steinel, includes Q&A bar exam, 3 p.m., free (beer not included). The Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th Street, 303-297-2700.

Wonderful Winter Pie and Tart Workshop, with Bobby Dazzler co-owner Amy Hoyt offering basic pie-making instruction, $50. The Seasoned Chef Cooking School, 999 Jasmine Street, 303-377-3222,

January 21: Wine-tasting in conjunction with Chambers Wine and Liquors, focusing on wines for Valentine's Day. Cost is $19 per person and includes wines and appetizers. Luigi's Bent Noodle, 3055 South Parker Road, Aurora, 303-337-2733.

January 23: Super Bowl Half Time Buffet class with teaching chef Conni Gallo, $40. The Seasoned Chef Cooking School, 999 Jasmine Street, 303-377-3222,

Ongoing: Ultimate Dinner at Del Frisco's, a benefit for the James Beard Foundation, through January 31, 2001. Nightly special includes an appetizer, steak with sides, dessert and one ounce of Louis XIII de Rémy Martin; $150 per person. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, 8100 East Orchard Road, Greenwood Village, 303-796-0100.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner