No bones about it, Boney's is a winner

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A plate of ribs at Boney's.
Though we live in a town that isn't known for its barbecue, Denverites have strong opinions about what does and doesn't count as good 'cue. So it goes without saying that I, along with the rest of Café Society, am always on the lookout for new places to share with our readers. But after any number of disappointing meals, I often wind up at a repeat winner of Westword's Best Barbecue category: Boney's Smokehouse BBQ.

See also:
Best Barbecue Restaurant 2014 -- Boney's Smokehouse BBQ

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Guard and Grace bills itself as a "modern steakhouse." Does it meat expectations?

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Danielle Lirette
A modern steak at a modern steakhouse.
Four years ago when I was the restaurant critic for a now-defunct publication, I reviewed Shanahan's Steakhouse. At the time, the executive chef told me he was trying to create a menu that was "a lot more modern," but I as noted in my review, the beef was corn-fed and sourced out-of-state, making it seem more traditional than contemporary.

Fast forward to 2014. When restaurateur Troy Guard opened Guard and Grace
Guard and Grace in March, he used similar terminology, referring to his sprawling, splashy venture downtown as a "modern steakhouse."

See also:
First look at Guard and Grace


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Will you want to go to Gozo? Find out tomorrow...

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There's a seat for you at Gozo.
In early March, Gozo finally opened on South Broadway. It's an Italian-Spanish eatery -- not that you'd know it from the name. It doesn't serve aljotta (fish soup) or hobz biz-zejt (bread with tomatoes, anchovies, mint and cheese) or other staples from Gozo, an island in the Maltese archipelago. It doesn't even serve much Spanish food.

See also:
Gozo will open in the former home of Deluxe

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Is El Chingon a "bad ass" -- or the "best of the best"?

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Danielle Lirette
Names have been making headlines lately, thanks to the debate over the Washington Redskins. This week I'm reviewing a restaurant that sparked a controversy of its own. No, it isn't Pinche Taqueria, with a name so vulgar -- it translates to "fucking" -- that the owners aren't allowed to put it on signage, which is why the signs for those two locations trumpet "Tacos, tequila, whiskey" instead. It also isn't Los Chingones, Troy Guard's taqueria known for such wild fillings as camel, octopus and antelope. No, this week, my review is of El Chingon, whose name, like that of Guard's place, basically means "bad ass." But that's not what the family that owns the place was going for when they chose the moniker.

See also: Pinche can mean many things, including "delicious tacos"

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New Denver restaurants show how much the scene has changed since Mimi Sheraton's day

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Mimi Sheraton.
Over the weekend I finished Mimi Sheraton's memoir, Eating My Words. While it wasn't as entertaining as Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone, the book had no trouble holding my attention, especially the parts about her role as restaurant critic for the New York Times. I knew I'd be interested in the descriptions of her craft -- how she chose her dining companions, what led her to take a star away from the likes of Le Cirque, how she tested a restaurant's hospitality, etc. But just as intriguing was her window onto a restaurant industry that has changed dramatically in the past forty years.

See also:
First look at Atticus, a quintessential neighborhood restaurant

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Olive & Finch is anything but an add-on to Mary Nguyen's lineup

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Lori Midson
Mary Nguyen at Olive & Finch.
The restaurants I reviewed over the past two weeks both had names featuring an ampersand: Work & Class and Chai & Chai. For the hat trick -- that's for all you soccer fans out there -- I'm about to review one more: Olive & Finch, Mary Nguyen's fast-casual eatery that's anything but an add-on.

See also: What's in a name? Plenty of ampersands these days

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Chai & Chai is a long way from Chez Panisse...

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Danielle Lirette
Chai & Chai's award-winning masala dosa.
Chez Panisse created its own butterfly effect, changing the way Americans cook, eat and think about food. For Venu Alla, who lived near the legendary restaurant in Berkeley, that influence was personal and powerful, turning him into "something of a foodie," he says, and inspiring the Indian architect and tech consultant to open a restaurant of his own: Chai & Chai;

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes -- Masala dosa from Chai & Chai

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Why does Work & Class seem so right now -- and so right?

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Danielle Lirette
Work & Class opened in January -- in a building made of packing crates.
Rarely does a restaurant capture the moment as well as Work & Class, which opened in the Ballpark neighborhood this past January. And I'm not just talking about how it embodies 21st-century sustainability with its shipping-container shell.

See also: The ten best restaurants in the Ballpark neighborhood

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Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant offers much more than portobellos

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Danielle Lirette
The days are long-gone when chefs could grill a portobello and think they'd please their vegetarian guests. These days, restaurants are expected to cater to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free diners and people with a host of other food allergies and/or sensitivities. But despite the growing awareness of and willingness to cater to these niches, there still aren't as many as restaurants as you might think that make meat-, wheat- and dairy-free dining a priority.

See also: Five best vegetarian restaurants in Denver

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Prima and Restaurant Kevin Taylor are gone, but Palettes remains

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Danielle Lirette
Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group made headlines when two of its best-known properties, Restaurant Kevin Taylor and Prima Ristorante, shuttered this spring -- Kevin Taylor at the end of March, Prima just two weeks ago. Both were fixtures in the Hotel Teatro, which is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation and is scheduled to reopen this summer with a new concept called the Nickel, spearheaded by restaurateur Jake Linzinmeir.

See also: Hotel Teatro taps chef Jake Linzinmeir to spearhead the Nickel, its new restaurant

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