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Feb 20, 2008 02:34 PM

Denver Foodwriters: Who do you love?

When looking for solid info on restaurants, chefs, and food communities in D-town, whose opinion do you trust most, and why? Are there any writers out there who don't cut the mustard, so to speak? What do you think the foodwriting community in Colorado could or should bring to the table that it isn't currently doing?

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  1. This will probably get moved to the media board, but I trust Tucker Shaw at the Denver Post and Jason Sheehan at Westword (although his balls to the wall style takes some getting used to--I've grown to like it). I am neutral on the Rocky, and generally discount most of what 5280 writes about food. I was told by a waitress at Luca that 5280's reviewers loudly announce their presence in a restaurant, so any pretext of their experiences being typical is not true.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Megiac

      One of the keys might be finding someone whose palate aligns with yours. I know when I moved to Denver that the 5280 annual Dining in Denver guide was my bible. At that time, Lori Midson was the food critic (she is now writing for the Rocky and has written for a slew of other local and national pubs). Besides her spot-on recommendations of everything from hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints to white tablecloth dining, I like the fact that she has a vocabulary and isn’t afraid to use it. A disclaimer is that I have since met her and found that she’s one cool chica (and she reads this board, so say “hi”).

      I like Tucker Shaw and Kristen Browning-Blas in the Post too. I enjoyed the short-lived “Tucker’s Hands” segment online where he’d make a drink or dish on video (from the neck down) and someone would provide snarky typed commentary.

      Sheehan just cracks me the hell up (and occasionally infuriates me). His experiences aren’t always typical of what the average customer can expect either if it's a chef he knows. (Exhibit A: the tasting menu at O’s in the Westin, Westminster, which the front of the house had no clue how to handle on our trip, although we loved the dessert course that Ian himself presented. If Ian would've cooked directly for us and shown us all his gadgets and explained all of his experiments like he did for Sheehan, I'm sure we would have enjoyed the experience more too. Instead, we had clueless and disinterested service that included questions like "Do you know what gnocchi is?"). Here's a link to a thread on the Food & Media board where Jason was discussed:

      1. re: rlm

        I've grown to enjoy Sheehan very much and find him pretty trustworthy. It seems at the beginning that 80% of the article was about him and 20% about the restaurant but now it's a comfortable 50-50 :-) .

        I was impressed that he gave high praise to a chain (Oceanaire) and doesn't mind clobbering a hole-in-the-wall place (which shows he's not trying to stake a claim as a "contrarian" which seems to motivate much of the staff at Westword). T. Shaw is good and more "traditional". I really really really REALLY miss Kyle Wagner as I thought she was the most reliable and solid food critic I'd ever read.

        1. re: e_bone

          Agreed. I loved Kyle. She was awesome. Except for the Red Lobster thing (but she's forgiven).

          1. re: rlm

            You know... everytime I see a Red Lobster commerical on TV I think of your comment... I even did a some research on the hub-bub but curiosity is forcing me to ask: what exactly happened?

            1. re: e_bone

              In one of her reviews shortly before she left, she wrote a glowing review of Red Lobster. The tone was definitely "I know I shouldn't like this, but I do." I found it really funny.

              1. re: Megiac

                I suppose I was trolling a bit w/ my question as I thought I knew the answer. I wondered if Kyle was being "ironic"? If not- perhaps she may have just had some good meals there. God knows I've had some unexepectedly good meals in places that I thought were going to be lame just as I've had poor experiences in places that are supposedely fantastic. Last year my 5 year old daughter and I were going on a "date" (as she and her twin brother don't get enough solo time with their parents) and she chose Macaroni Grill. I groaned but since it was about her I went along with the plan. We had a great meal and a great time. Now, I've got plenty of other data points from experience that tell me that Mac Grill is pretty lame, but they did everything well that night and have earned a return visit at some point.

                The sarcasm rlm was sharing for the reviews rubbed me the wrong way as it appeared to sound "snobbish". Was her rejection of the reviews based on her personal experiences or from a perception? I haven't eaten at RL so I don't have an opinion. But if Kyle said it was great I'd be willing to give it a whirl at least to form my own.

                1. re: e_bone

                  Guess I missed these follow-ups initially since this was moved from the SW board to Food & Media.

                  I always find it funny that my written tongue-in-cheek comments are sometimes perceived as being "snobbish," seeing as how I grew up poor and put myself through college. I've eaten at RL more times than any human ever should while trapped in unfortunate areas of the country where fried shrimp and Sysco prepared goods are looked upon as culinary nirvana. So I can't help but poke fun at chains like RL based on my own experiences at these establishments.

                  I agree that some chains do a good job (Capital Grille for one) and you can probably find at least one or two things at them which won't make you entirely miserable, but so many of them are worthy of the jabs directed at them.

                  I thought Kyle's RL review was funny too (just like Megiac mentioned), which is why I made reference to it.