The Bite

The rest of the Story: Dazzle (930 Lincoln Street) scored big when it recently snagged both Donald Rossa and Jason Palmer from the Fourth Story (2955 East First Avenue). Rossa, who was Fourth Story's general manager for about a year, is now part owner of Dazzle; Palmer, formerly the Fourth Story's executive sous chef, has been named Dazzle's head chef.

That means that Theo Roe, the creator of the fabulous bar burger, is gone. Owner Karen Storck bought Roe out and has given Rossa carte blanche to push Dazzle to a dazzling new level. "I've wanted to work with this restaurant for a long time," Rossa says. "I've always been a fan of the cafe society of the period from 1925 to 1935, and I've always felt that this place has so much potential to really re-create that in a big way. And so we're looking to pump up our appetizer options in the bar area and really work at being the best late-night place in town."

The better to focus on those evening and late-night hours, Dazzle abandoned lunch service earlier this summer. But as a consolation prize, the restaurant has already added Sunday night suppers (from 5 to 9 p.m.) to its repertoire. In the near future -- this week, in some cases -- Rossa and Palmer will expand the vegetarian selections (grilled wild-mushroom pizza and chopped seven-vegetable salad will join the menu, for example); offer that fabulous fried chicken every night in addition to more appetizers (chicken wings, anyone?); and also do some remodeling, continuing the art-deco theme but making the restaurant feel more clubby. "We want to be like the old City Spirit," Rossa says of the space at 1434 Blake Street that's now Andrews' Pub. "An urban mecca, a locals' spot."

Locals have always supported the Fourth Story, which has been making some moves of its own in order to keep up with the constant flow of customers. Michael Smith, who started as a server nearly four years ago, has worked his way up through the ranks and has taken Rossa's place; Brian Sack, who has cooked at several Colorado Springs spots, including the Broadmoor, is now the head chef, replacing Chris Cina. For more on Sack's menu and an update on the overall Fourth Story experience, see the revived Second Helping, in which I revisit previously reviewed restaurants, on page 80.

Although the changes at Dazzle and the Fourth Story are fairly drastic, they pale in comparison to the surprise announcement that Seamus Feeley is already leaving Citrus (1701 Wynkoop Street). I loved Feeley's food -- particularly the baby lobster with potato gnocchi -- and thought the restaurant was well on its way to becoming a star in Denver's dining universe ("Pop the Cork!" July 19).

But Feeley says he has to follow his heart, and he's always longed to own a restaurant in Boulder. That dream should come true by early October, when Mateo opens at 19th and Pearl streets. A collaborative effort between Feeley and partners Matthew Jansen (he was one of the people who brought us the ill-fated Ombra, an innovative, elegant eatery that briefly shone for a few months at 300 Fillmore Street, now the home of Campo de Fiori) and Brett Zimmerman (a former assistant sommelier for Charlie Trotter's in Chicago), Mateo will offer the kind of food that Feeley favors. "My style has really always been French provincial, real simple," he explains. "That's the kind of food I like to cook and eat, and so I'm looking forward to getting back into it."

The southern French fare at Mateo will be "much more affordable than at Citrus," Feeley adds. "We're looking to be more casual and down-to-earth, with real concentrated flavors coming from the ingredients themselves and not too doctored up."

After hanging around Citrus over the next two weeks to help owner Francois Saffieddine break in his replacement, Bruce Zalk (most recently sous chef at Tante Louise), Feeley plans to get in the mood for his new place by spending a few weeks in France. "That'll get the juices flowing and put me in the right frame of mind," he says. "Plus, it'll be a great vacation."

Here's lookin' at you, squid: What's cooking with calamari, that seemingly ubiquitous Denver menu mainstay? (Close runners-up: crème brûlée and smoked salmon.) During recent visits to four well-known restaurants -- one of them the aforementioned Fourth Story -- my requests to order squid from the standard menu were denied. At two of the eateries, the servers told me that the seafood smelled funny and the chefs were unwilling to take a chance on it. At the other two, the servers simply said that they were sorry, but calamari was not available that day.

According to Seattle Fish Company (6211 East 42nd Avenue), there's no universal squid problem right now. "Sometimes it depends on the inventory of the seafood distributors," says one anonymous ("Hey, I'm just covering my ass," he points out) employee. "I do know a lot of places in town blew through their squid these past few weekends, so if it was a weeknight visit, maybe they were just out of it."

Well, if that were the case, you'd think I'd have run across this phenomenon before. My calls to Shamrock and Nobel/Sysco, the area's other major food distributors, were not returned, so apparently things haven't reached a crisis point yet. But if this calamari crunch continues, chefs will be forced to come up with something else for their appetizer rosters -- maybe even something new and original.


Something to wine about: To help people overcome their fear and ignorance about wines, Pesce Fresco (see review, previous page) recently began offering wine classes on Monday nights. Really just a great excuse to get together with other wine-minded people, the three-hour sessions cover different regions and allow participants to check out some good vino. The cost is $40 per class; the next one is August 27. Call 303-290-9705 for reservations.

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner