Round two with Eric Rivera, exec chef of Cafe|Bar
This is part two of my interview with Eric Rivera exec chef of Cafe|Bar. Part one of my chat with Rivera ran yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: Bouchon, in Napa Valley. The food and service were just spot-on perfect. We were there for lunch, and everything was amazing, and the service was just so respectful.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: Table 6 is consistently good, and Scott Parker's flavor combinations are phenomenal, plus the servers there really take care of industry people. You can tell that it's a great team environment. El Camino is my favorite bar; their tacos are amazing, and I also love Sushi Sasa. We sit at the sushi bar, and the cooks really make it a point to be personable.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: More tapas bars. I like to eat a little of a lot, and my wife and I like to try more than one item whenever we go out to dinner.
Last restaurant you visited? Root Down. I had the mussels and the gnocchi and a lot of their mixed drinks, which are always interesting. I loved it. But they need to replace the light bulbs when they go out. That's a small complaint, though.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Gourmet burger joints. It's just out of control. There are so many other things I'd like to see restaurants specialize in - things like more charcuterie shops. Hell, even just salads.
Which chef in Denver do you most respect? Eric Uffelman, the exec chef of Marlowe's. I worked with him for three years, and he really helped me become a better chef by giving me so many of the tools I've needed to get to where I am now. He taught me how to structure a kitchen, how to run it professionally, how to teach the staff to be professional, and to just hold really high standards. He lays low, but he's an amazing person and chef.
Are you affected by reviews at all? What's your opinion on food writers and social review sites like Yelp, OpenTable and Urbanspoon? Sure, they all affect me, and they help me to get better, whether they're good or bad reviews. Restaurants have off nights, though, and there are a lot of variables in service, so I believe that people need to try a place twice before they review it -- or at least update their bad review if they come back and have a great experience.