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Have we talked Denver Restaurant Week yet?

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SeattliteChower Jan 20, 2009 01:04 PM

Restaurant Week will be February 21-27. What are your picks for this year? Who does Restaurant Week well?

I have Mizuna and Rioja on my list so far since I haven't tried either yet. Also considering Duo.

  1. s
    SeattliteChower Mar 2, 2009 10:49 AM

    Anyone else go to Mizuna? It was my first visit and I was underwhelmed to say the least. The appetizers were not innovative or particularly delicious. I did enjoy the pork tenderloin entree. The dessert, a brownie bread pudding, sounded delicious but it had very little chocolate flavor. I thought Rioja was much better.

    Was this just an example of a successful restaurant not putting much effort in for DRW?

    6 Replies
    1. re: SeattliteChower
      tatamagouche Mar 2, 2009 11:32 AM

      If so, I really resent that. If a restaurant really doesn't want to do RW, don't do it. The danger is precisely what happened to you—so many diners use RW as a gauge for whether they want to return. Granted, so many others use it just to check out a place they otherwise can't afford. But you'd think restaurateurs would always give diners the benefit of the doubt, for their own sake, ultimately.

      1. re: tatamagouche
        tatamagouche Mar 2, 2009 03:30 PM

        In case I wasn't clear, I do think most restaurants try to do RW right—that most of them do give diners the benefit of the doubt as far as being potentially repeat customers, and so try to make their first impression a good one. But they're already operating at a disadvantage insofar as, in order to not lose copious amounts of money, they're more likely to try to turn more tables over, which means the kitchen and service are more rushed.

        And as I've said, since I almost always end up asking for the regular menu anyway, there's little incentive for me to go, though I can understand why others do. I always want to support my local restaurateurs, but I'd just as soon do it on a regular week!

        1. re: tatamagouche
          p
          Pastajohn Mar 2, 2009 04:03 PM

          Well put, TTMG. Listen, restaurateurs are not blameless for problems during restaurant week but let's keep in mind how important is is for customers to have reasonable expectations during this time.

          If one thinks they're going get the deal of a lifetime and their choice from anything on the menu, it just can't work that way. Three courses for $26.40 at most restaurants is a deal but not necessarily a screaming deal (except at the steakhouses). Those that do their research and read the menus online seem to leave happy, in most cases.

          The number of cancellations and no-shows during restaurant week is mind boggling so restaurants have learned to overbook which can create real problems if everyone shows up. Not sure how we fix that other than confirming reservations or taking credit cards (which someone complained about upthread).

          1. re: Pastajohn
            avgolemona Mar 3, 2009 08:59 AM

            I've been "doing" DRW for three years now. I notice a difference between then and now.

            I'm one of those people who use 5280 as a trial to see if I'd come back and pay full price. So far this year, none of the places I've been to have passed the test.

            I don't expect large (or small) helpings of mediocre or even poor food at normally good restaurants during 5280, which is what I've gotten this year. I also don't expect the absolute pinnacle of culinary delight. I expect three small, imaginative dishes done very well. Not the deal of a lifetime, not the most expensive ingredients, but a sampling of a restaurant's essence. I'd be happier with a half chicken breast, a dab of mashed potatoes, and bread pudding done perfectly than lobster, shiitake risotto, and creme brulee ruined.

            Steakhouses have actually been some of the worst offenders, in my experience, in treating restaurant week diners like beggars.

            I'm looking for a place I can consider for when I get another job someday and want to celebrate, or when an old friend blows into town on an expense account.

            I'm the one who complained about requiring credit cards to confirm a reservation upthread. One more useless exposure of my credit information to secure a reservation (when I am religious about confirming and canceling) is something I don't need. That's one reason I reserve through OpenTable, where good reservation etiquette is rewarded. And so far, nowhere has been overbooked or even full.

            Yeah, I'm unhappy. 5280 was supposed to be my chance to have some great food while unemployed. It may be months before I can afford to have a nice restaurant meal again. Going by this year's offerings, a lot of these restaurants will be out of customers and closed by then. Deservedly so.

            1. re: avgolemona
              c
              ClaireWalter Mar 3, 2009 12:29 PM

              In the end, where did you go besides The Fort. I read your earlier posts about what interested you but am not sure of where you ended up eating -- and I am curious, given your negative reaction. I/we have been to three. Loved O's at Westin Westminster and Duo; underwhelmed by Citron.

          2. re: tatamagouche
            c
            ClaireWalter Mar 2, 2009 04:21 PM

            Tatamagouche - Don't go to Duo during DRW if you want to order from the regular menu. They don't offer it. Then again, we fond the DRW menu to be very fine. See http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com... for pix and full evaluation.

      2. avgolemona Feb 28, 2009 07:24 AM

        We went to The Fort last night. It was disappointing to say the least. The salad was just OK, the buffalo was tough, the mashed potatoes were gluey, the green beans were just OK. Nothing I couldn't do better myself. The quail was good, as were the mini-muffins in the bread basket. The apple crisp was undercooked. In fact the only good thing was the tongue appetizer, from the regular menu. The service was outstanding, too bad the food wasn't.

        It's doubly disappointing because I could only afford one or two 5280 meals this year, and this was the one I was really looking forward to.

        3 Replies
        1. re: avgolemona
          l
          lizz84 Feb 28, 2009 07:46 AM

          We tried to eat at The Fort for Mother's day a few years ago, we never got to eat. We spent 2 hours waiting for the food to arrive and then we finally left when it did not arrive . It ruined my Mothers day, I ended up having to grab something guick at a fast food place, because we were so hungry. Everyone that got their food did not look happy. It sounds like things are not much better.

          1. re: lizz84
            tatamagouche Feb 28, 2009 11:05 AM

            I know several people on the board do like the place—do you two just think they don't do special events well (which is still a black mark against them, granted, but means a regular night might be an improvement)? Or do you think it's just overrated?

            Meanwhile, I had a much better experience at Locanda del Borgo than I'd had at Root Down. It's not Bonanno-stellar, but it's solid for sure. Three of three pastas were excellent. Full blogpost below.

            http://www.denveater.com/denveater/20...

            1. re: tatamagouche
              i
              itri Feb 28, 2009 01:52 PM

              I went for Valentine's Day a few years ago, and while it wasn't spectacular, I thought that the food was solid. To be honest, I can't remember what we had anymore, but I do remember that we both had game and were both very happy with what we had. Maybe things have changed recently though...

        2. o
          olddogeyes Feb 24, 2009 04:45 PM

          My wife and I ate at Union Bistro in Castle Rock on Saturday night and they had a limited menu but it did include their signature double bone pork chop which was excellent. I had the salmon entree and it was also very good. Very good deal for $52.80.

          1. h
            hatchmaster Feb 21, 2009 08:06 PM

            I really want to go to Root Down and Venue but I think I want to try their regular menus.

            I will be at Twelve for sure.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hatchmaster
              s
              SeattliteChower Feb 24, 2009 08:36 AM

              Went to Rioja on Saturday night. Despite the crowds, service was very attentive. The full menu is offered with upcharges on several items, but I would prefer this to a very limited menu. Everything was outstanding. Notable items were the squash salad, lemon gnocchi topped with crabmeat, and the beignets stuffed with goat cheese and figs were heavenly. I will definitely go back. Rioja has extended through next week so it's worth a shot to get a rez there.

              1. re: SeattliteChower
                tatamagouche Feb 24, 2009 10:31 AM

                Love both that squash salad and lemon gnocchi. So well put together.

            2. air Feb 19, 2009 01:26 PM

              Hi Denver 'hounds. I'm flying in from Dallas and will be in Denver for a business trip during Restaurant Week. Saw several replies for O's so I'm already eyeballing that restaurant, but I'd also appreciate some good recommendations, especially for anything that would be unique to Denver.

              10 Replies
              1. re: air
                c
                ClaireWalter Feb 20, 2009 06:28 AM

                Denver Restaurant Week is now Denver Restaurant Weeks. It has been officially extended to Mar 6, and many participating restaurants are doing the second week as well.

                Air - At this point, you'd better grab what you can get on a day when you'll be available. An early (5:30) or late (8:30) seating is probably the most likely time to get in someplace that you want to go.

                Go to http://www.denver.org/denverrestauran... (Open Table handles reservations).

                1. re: ClaireWalter
                  avgolemona Feb 20, 2009 01:57 PM

                  I helped out by cancelling all reservations except The Fort and Sonoda's yesterday. Just can't afford it right now, but Sonoda's is an exceptional bargain for decent sushi and I've always wanted to try The Fort.

                  Here's an article in the Denver Post: 10 sure bets for Denver Restaurant Week

                  http://www.denverpost.com/lifestyles/...

                  1. re: avgolemona
                    c
                    ClaireWalter Feb 21, 2009 07:16 PM

                    We just returned from dinner at O's in the Westin Westminster. Really good -- and good value too -- $170+ for 5, incl a bottle of wine and tax, plus tip.

                    Every one of the 3 apps, 4 entrees and 3 desserts has merit. Well prepared, amd nicely presented. Big restaurant that can accommodate a crowd.

                    1. re: ClaireWalter
                      m
                      margemayhem Feb 23, 2009 08:15 AM

                      We went to O's on Saturday and really enjoyed it. And a great bargain too. We liked both the apps and entrees, but were very disappointed with the desserts. But the former definitely made up for it.

                      1. re: margemayhem
                        c
                        ClaireWalter Feb 23, 2009 09:02 AM

                        Marge Mayhem - We were there then too (http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com...). Had we only known...... Re desserts, I liked the blueberry ice cream a lot, the poundcake grilled poundcake a little less. The other two desserts were well received.

                        Tonight we're doing Duo and looking forward to that as well.

                        1. re: ClaireWalter
                          m
                          margemayhem Feb 23, 2009 10:12 AM

                          Jealous! Looking forward to your review of Duo.

                          1. re: margemayhem
                            air Feb 23, 2009 02:57 PM

                            So unfortunately I hadn't actually gotten a chance to look at a map of Denver before today and to my disappointment, O's looks to be a minimum 30 minute drive from where I'm staying in Aurora.

                            Normally that's not a big deal, and I'd be fine with driving out for a good meal, but unfortunately, my rental car is shared amongst a group of coworkers.

                            Is there anything noteworthy within 15-20 minutes of Aurora? Thanks for all the feedback and tips!

                            1. re: air
                              air Feb 23, 2009 05:48 PM

                              Actually, scratch all that.. I managed to snag a car for an extended amount of time so I'll be heading to O's tomorrow night! Wish I could also do Duo but there's hardly any spaces left.

                            2. re: margemayhem
                              c
                              ClaireWalter Feb 24, 2009 08:16 AM

                              MargeMayhem - Duo was terrific. Full house, but they turned out excellent dishes, course after course. Among five of us, we only sampled 2 or the 3 soups and 2 of the 4 entrees (but both of the desserts). The cod was outstanding -- and the Sticky Toffee Pudding was beyond rich. See http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com... for pix. Try for week #2 of DRW for a good chance of scoring reservations at places that filled up this week.

                            3. re: ClaireWalter
                              air Feb 24, 2009 07:56 PM

                              "Rapture inducing" - that totally describes the apple tarragon puree, it was a bombardment of flavor. I also agree with you about the pound cake.

                              Overall, had a really good experience though, was a great meal!

                  2. a
                    aka_zoe Feb 1, 2009 02:32 PM

                    We have a reservation at O's, are waiting to hear if the rumors are true about extending this year a week more... anyone hear anything?

                    1. c
                      ClaireWalter Feb 1, 2009 01:11 PM

                      We're going to Duo (also requires credit card to secure reservation) and O's at the Westin Westminster.

                      1. h
                        Heyteacher Jan 31, 2009 02:18 PM

                        We're going to Vita, Texas de Brazil and Jax Fish House. We're super excited!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Heyteacher
                          h
                          Heyteacher Mar 1, 2009 01:43 PM

                          We LOVED Jax from start to finish and would definitely visit again. Vita was a bit of a letdown - service was great and food was fine but not jazzed about it.
                          We canceled our reservation to TdeB and took advantage of the extension of DRW instead - we're going to Rioja on Thursday! YAY!

                        2. m
                          margemayhem Jan 27, 2009 12:46 PM

                          Wow, stuff is filling up! I tried several places before I could get a decent reservation time. I ended up with one at O's at the Westin. Looking forward to it!

                          1. avgolemona Jan 27, 2009 10:31 AM

                            Bump.

                            Nobody interested? I've got reservations at Bistro Vendome, Red Square, Vesta, and The Fort so far. Rioja still has openings, but they are asking for a credit card no. to reserve so I refused on principle. Barolo Grill has no menu up yet. Restaurant Kevin Taylor is booked up for a solid month out.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: avgolemona
                              s
                              SeattliteChower Jan 27, 2009 11:06 AM

                              Thanks for bumping ;)

                              I booked Mizuna, Rioja, and Vesta. I am surprised to hear about the credit card at Rioja - did you book through opentable.com or call? I booked online and there was no credit card requested but I booked 3 weeks ago.

                              1. re: SeattliteChower
                                avgolemona Jan 27, 2009 12:46 PM

                                Opentable. It's the first time I've seen that on Opentable, too.

                                I can understand the reasoning behind it, but it just put me off - just one more way to expose my credit card to fraud. I'm one of those people who is religious about canceling and confirming reservations.

                                I also booked at Sonoda's (I love sushi, and their 5280 menu looks like a great value - although Sonoda's isn't known as a top-flight sushi place, they're good enough). I doubt the reservation will be strictly required, but just in case.

                                I don't think the menus are as ambitious or inventive this year. I haven't found very many that really grabbed me. In the cases of BV, Vesta, and Sonoda's, I picked them because I've been there before and the food was great. I've always wanted to try the Fort, and always been curious about Red Square because it's close to BV.

                              2. re: avgolemona
                                tatamagouche Feb 20, 2009 05:38 AM

                                Root Down and Locanda del Borgo next week...

                                1. re: tatamagouche
                                  tatamagouche Feb 26, 2009 08:47 AM

                                  After all the hoopla, Root Down was a real disappointment. We didn't end up eating off the RW menu (happens every time, which is why I usually don't bother to go), but two out of three of my dishes—beet-parsnip soup and winter panzanella—were flat-out boring, and a third, sweet-and-sour eggplant bruschetta, was weirdly sweet. The place was, of course, jammed and noisy, the service slow. Full post below.

                                  I still feel as though I have to give them another break; I was so frustrated with this first visit that I feel all the more obligated to be absolutely sure that it's them and not me.

                                  http://www.denveater.com/denveater/20...

                              3. avgolemona Jan 20, 2009 02:27 PM

                                I just checked last weekend and the list was there. My guess is that they're finally going to add the menus and took the live site down temporarily.

                                Meanwhile, here's the cached list of restaurants: http://www.denver.org/denverrestauran...

                                I did Duo last year. It was good but not outstanding. Lola's does a great menu that week, in my experience. One of the best values I found was Piatti's - yes, it's a chain, but the service is good, the Caesar salad was excellent, and you get a bottle of wine - half bottle for a single.

                                I make reservations for seven nights out of seven, usually.

                                (Edit) Whoops, I was wrong, many of the menus are up and are reachable from that link. It's just the main page that's down.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: avgolemona
                                  tatamagouche Jan 21, 2009 04:42 AM

                                  Awesome, thanks!

                                2. tatamagouche Jan 20, 2009 01:51 PM

                                  Why can't I find a link to the list of participating restos? The first couple of URLs on Google are no longer existent.

                                  I never liked RW back in Boston b/c it always seemed like such a shitshow but I'm so broke these days I could use the help in checking out places I've yet to visit. Beggars can't be choosers (although that was always part of the problem for me—I always end up succumbing to the greater lure of the regular menu and spending the very money I came to save...)

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