Sugarmill has a smushed name, but an expansive menu

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Restaurateurs must have taken the same continuing education class on how to choose a name for their new ventures. I've lost count of how many spots have opened lately that were christened either with two words smushed together (as in Lower48 Kitchen) or joined by an ampersand or "and." Pastry chef Noah French and veteran restaurateur Troy Guard opted for the former when they launched Sugarmill late last year.

See also: The ten best restaurants in the Ballpark neighborhood

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The Bar-On family may be losing the Udi's name, but brought back Braun

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Andrew Chapman
Etai, Udi and Robin Bar-On of the soon-to-be-renamed Udi's.
It's almost time for the big reveal. Later this week, Udi's will announce the new name for its local restaurant empire, a change prompted by the $125 million sale of the company's gluten-free and granola division in 2012. The name won't be a complete mystery, though: We know it will honor the company's history and we know it will honor the importance of family, and we know this not because we're clairvoyant, but because the top contenders -- Etai's (the name of the founder's son), Silvy's (the name of the founder's mother), and Izzio's (honoring the bakery's head baker) -- were all revealed to the public on the Rename Udi's website.

See also:
Udi Bar-On on selling his brand for $125 million and how you can win the name game


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Lower48 Kitchen is the Best New Restaurant in Denver -- find out why tomorrow

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Lori Midson
There's usually an element of suspense in a restaurant review. Is the food worth your money? Does the atmosphere add to the experience? Is this a place you should visit ASAP -- or avoid like the plague? But it's a foregone conclusion that my next review will be a rave: I'm writing about Lower48 Kitchen, launched this winter by two Frasca Food and Wine alums. And the restaurant was just named Best New Restaurant in the Best of Denver 2014.

See also:
Lower48 Kitchen is Denver's Best New Restaurant

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Mecca Grill is changing course from Lebanese to Moroccan cuisine

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Danielle Lirette
Last year Mecca Grill was bought by a Moroccan family who had been looking at starting their own Moroccan restaurant. But rather than changing the name to something like Morocco Grill, the new owners decided to keep the name -- and Mecca Grill's Lebanese menu, at least for now.

See also:
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant 2012 -- Mecca Grill

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Peter Ryan found a place of his own -- but turning it into The Plimoth was a challenge

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Last winter, Peter Ryan, former executive chef/instructor at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts, inked a deal on an out-of-the-way space in North City Park that he felt was just right for the neighborhood eatery he dreamed of opening -- in what happened to be his own neighborhood. But the nearly century-old space was about as far from move-in ready as it gets.

See also:
Chef Peter Ryan opens The Plimoth in north City Park

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The revived Bocadillo is still no copycat

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Lori Midson
Derek Dietz at the revived Bocadillo.
Bocadillo has never felt like a copycat. When the restaurant opened in early 2012 on a quiet street in Sunnyside, owner Derek Dietz opted not to put out trendy, refined fare. "We're not competing with Rioja and Squeaky Bean," he explains. "We're like a diner that has really good food." So instead, he focused on sandwiches that reflected his background, everything from filet with brie -- a nod to his background cooking at the Four Seasons -- to Philly cheesesteaks, the staple of his youth spent in Philadelphia.

And just when business was looking good, Dietz was forced to close for a year due to a family emergency. When he reopened last summer, he decided to tweak the concept to address the main complaint that he'd heard during his initial run, namely that he should "show off the food more and have booze," he recalls.

See also:
Chef and Tell with Derek Dietz of Bocadillo

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Scott Bagus moved from musician to restaurant owner with the Curtis Club

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Philip Poston
Although musician Scott Bagus had long entertained the notion of running a neighborhood bar or lounge, owning a restaurant wasn't on his radar. But then he heard that the Old Curtis Street Bar was available. "Someone said they thought I might be good for doing a build-out and for being a partner," he recalls. "It ended up being me." And today he's the owner of The Curtis Club.

See also: The Curtis Club opening a very hot time -- complete with firefighters!


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Lotus Vegetarian drew my vegan friend down from Boulder; was it worth the drive?

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Danielle Lirette
Some friends are always asking when they can join me for a review dinner. I try to explain the not-so-glamorous reality: They don't get to order what they want (not everyone likes octopus and oysters) and they have to carry the weight of the conversation, since I'm too busy eating to be a very good companion. Other friends don't ask at all, like my vegan friend who lives in Boulder, since it's a rare restaurant that fits the way she eats. But when I decided to visit Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant, a Vietnamese vegetarian -- and nearly vegan -- restaurant that opened in September, I gave her a call and invited her to join me on one of my review meals.

See also:
Lotus Vegetarian now open in the former home of Vietnam Grill

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Session Kitchen has changed its concept; was it worth the wait?

Categories: Review Preview

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In this day of splashy restaurant openings, immediate Yelp reviews and a culture of dining that rewards the latest new thing, I'm often asked why I wait three months to review a restaurant. After all, by the time that period has elapsed, a certain subset of diners has already made up its mind about the place, logged thoughts on social media, and moved on to the next new thing.

Snap judgments, however, are hardly representative of a restaurant's potential, and Session Kitchen, which I review this week, is a good reminder why.

See also: Humboldt is a solid neighborhood restaurant -- with no Strings attached

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Concept Restaurants took on an iconic space when it transformed Strings into Humboldt

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Danielle Lirette
As the folks behind the now-defunct Ondo's and Café Berlin learned the hard way, there are hazards to real estate. Basement and second-floor locations pose obvious challenges for restaurateurs, but even ground-floor spaces in high-traffic areas aren't risk-free. "We knew people might be upset with what we did, because we were touching an icon," says Sean Huggard, operations director for Concept Restaurants, which opened Humboldt this fall.

That icon was Strings.

See also: Strings will close on April 30 -- eighteen months after the death of founder/chef Noel Cunningham

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