Ask the Critic: A final question answered

Categories: Cafe Society

So the big question last week (and the week before) was what restaurant I should review before saying goodbye to Denver for good. I got a lot of suggestions. Some of them were good. Some of them were ridiculous. In the end, I went with my gut (and the demands of at least a certain percentage of the people) and chose...

Well, I'm not going to tell you just yet. First, I'll dispense with some of the other propositions put forth by faithful readers:

Why don't you do Islamorada/Downtown Aquarium/Root Down or any of the other places you've trashed over the years?

Because that would be cheap and sleazy -- and, even if just for this final moment, I wanted to rise above the tawdry and find something beautiful. Yes, I've got something of a reputation for offering vicious literary beatings to those restaurants that didn't live up to my standards, those that disappointed me, those run by the delusional, the knuckleheaded or the insane, but I never saw myself as a hitman. I was just a kid who loves cooks and loves restaurants and loves telling their stories -- good, bad or horrific. Over the years here, I was surprised more often than I was let down. I found more joy and weirdness in this city than I ever thought I could. And to go out with some final screeching, howling monster of a final review -- all bad words and fire and threats of terrible violence? Well, that would've left a bad taste in my mouth for a city that has fed me and comforted me and thrilled me for the past however-many-years without ever truly letting me down.

Not only that, but a lot of those epically bad reviews? They were momentary things. Mark & Isabella has already shut its doors. The Downtown Aquarium was my Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas--a one-time thing that could never be repeated. Islamorada? Believe it or not, that's my daughter's second-favorite restaurant in the city (behind Dbar Desserts, which she loves the way only a five-year-old can love a restaurant devoted almost entirely to dessert), and while she would've loved to go back to look at all the fish one last time, it wouldn't have felt right to me. And places like Root Down and The Kitchen (which was also mentioned more than once by readers)? I've already had my say about them. I've picked my hill, planted my flag and defended my position against all assaults. It seems only right for me to leave them now to the fresh eyes and palate of whoever gets named as my replacement. Let him (or her) bring their own noise and make their own assessments. I will admit to being damnably curious, but like the rest of you, I guess I'm just going to have to read about them at some later date.

Another frequent suggestion:

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