Ten Ways the Denver Restaurant Scene Has Changed Over 100 Reviews

Mark Manger
The kitchen at The Kitchen Denver, subject of Gretchen Kurtz's first review.
When you hit a hundred, it's time to celebrate. And while I'm far from getting my picture on a Smucker's Jar on the Today Show, I'm closing in on a milestone of another sort: my hundredth review here. It won't be published for a few more weeks, but in the meantime, I'll be chiming in with thoughts on what it's like to hit the century mark as Westword's restaurant critic.

If we were having a party, someone would pull out home movies and framed pictures of the early years, and we'd gawk at funny collars and hairstyles. Instead, I'm offering a snapshot of what Denver's food scene looked like when I started two years ago...

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: New Cafe critic Gretchen Kurtz dishes up a few words about her philosophy

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Dallying at delis: A Second Helping of Cafe Society, August 11-15

Jay Thomas serves Robin Williams at the New York Deli in Mork & Mindy.
This week in Cafe Society, while Cafe critic Gretchen Kurtz took a well-deserved vacation, Kristin Pazulski reported on the efforts of Josh Pollack, owner of the new Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen, to make a perfect bagel. For Chef and Tell, Mark Antonation spoke with Al and Tory Belsky, founders of the New York Deli News, about that restaurant's 25th anniversary this summer. But the local deli that got the most attention was one that closed back in 1999: The New York Deli, whose exterior had played a supporting role on Mork & Mindy, the TV show that was Robin Williams's breakout vehicle. Today the building at 1117 Pearl Street that housed the New York Deli is home to Hapa Sushi.

See also: Conquering Stage Fright at the New York Deli News

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Santiago's Now Open Again on Federal

Mark Antonation
Breakfast burritos are once again available at this Santiago's.
It's been a long summer for northside fans of breakfast burritos; they've had to drive an extra mile or two to get their fix. But now the Santiago's at 2505 Federal Boulevard has finally re-opened, and that means the cars will start lining up early tomorrow morning.

See also: At Santiago's, even green is orange on Broncos Sunday

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Updated: Gallo di Nero Will Crow No More on Bannock Street

We have a new candidate for the worst black hole in Denver: 1135 Bannock Street. That address just swallowed up Gallo Di Nero, which had emerged from the ashes of Fired Up, a restaurant that repositioned itself after an electrical fire.

See also:
Best Dinner Under $10 -- Gallo di Nero

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Josh Pollack Is on a Roll With Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen

Danielle Lirette
Owner Josh Pollack makes bagels in the kitchen. Check out more photos from Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen.
Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen
725 East 26th Avenue

To make the perfect bagel, you need three key components: a great recipe, a flexible process managed by a knowledgeable bagel maker, and New York water, says Josh Pollack. That's a very specific formula, but it seems accurate -- at least judging from the customers who wait in winding lines at Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen. Last month, sixty people rushed over after the Facebook announcement that Pollack's place was finally open: Denver has been waiting a long time for a good bagel.

See also:
Behind the Scenes at Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen

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Thank God It's Not Still Fridays at Union Station

Danielle Lirette
Inside the Kitchen Next Door Glendale.
In her recent review of The Kitchen Next Door Glendale, Gretchen Kurtz compares the homegrown restaurant group to the decades-old phenomenon of TGI Fridays -- not because of the quality of the food, but because of how well the Next Door concept captures the community. "As I downed a stiff margarita and snacked on kale chips at the six-month-old Kitchen Next Door Glendale," she writes, "I saw two concepts with the same DNA, both trying to create a hip environment where folks could connect over drinks and grab a meal."

There's another reason to compare the two, though: Location, location, location.

See also: Is the Kitchen Next Door Glendale the Next Big Thing?

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What to Expect From the Menu at the Nickel

Mark Antonation
heirloom tomato and burrata Caprese salad.
The Nickel opened last week in Hotel Teatro, in the space that was once Kevin Taylor's Prima, and hungry theater-goers and other downtowners are now following their noses to the new restaurant. What will they find there? The smell of wood smoke emanating from the building as you round the corner from Arapahoe Street onto 14th is a good clue.

See also: The Nickel Brings Change to the Hotel Teatro

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Our apple pot pie won second place at the Denver County Fair

Denver County Fair
Our apple pot pie looks even better with a ribbon next to it.
Yesterday, we told you about our pie -- a pot-infused Dutch treat -- that we entered into the Denver County Fair's new marijuana category. Today we received word that our stoner slice earned a second-place ribbon from the judges in the "Best Sweet Infused Recipe" category (other than brownies, that is, which have their own category).

See also: Pot pavilion ready for lift-off at Denver County Fair

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Photos: All aboard for the restaurants of Union Station

A Colorado craft-beer at the Terminal Bar is just the ticket.
Have you seen the renovated Union Station yet? If not, you might be the only one -- the place has been packed since the restaurants started rolling out, attracting everyone from suburban lookyloos to Alton Brown, who was eating at Stoic & Genuine on Wednesday. With the grand-opening festivities over, this weekend would be a good time to drop by the station, where you can grab an ice cream cone or a beer -- or maybe even a dinner reservation, if you're really lucky.

And there are still more to come: The Cooper Lounge is waiting for its furniture, and chef Alex Seidel is hoping to open his Mercantile right after Labor Day. In the meantime, we sent photographer Jake Shane to Union Station; keep reading for pictures that are sure to whet your appetite.

See also: The best best places for Alton Brown to visit in Denver

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Mistakes happen at restaurants -- it's what happens next that's more important

Mistakes happen -- that's part of life. So it's what happens next that matters most.

When mistakes happen in restaurants, I'm always curious to see how the front of the house will react. In my review of The Kitchen Next Door Glendale, I write about one such mistake, the time a busser splattered mussel broth all over my husband's shirt. "Oh, God! I'm sorry," he gasped, then walked away. The server didn't come by, nor did the general manager, which wasn't the reaction I would have expected from the Kitchen Next Door.

Turns out it's not what Nick Doyle, executive general manager of all three Kitchen Next Door locations, would have expected, either.

See also: Behind the scenes at the Kitchen Next Door Glendale

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