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My Top 10 Restaurants of 2009- Denver

I agree on Root Down. I've been a few times since it opened, and it always seems the same to me: it thinks it's much cooler than it is, it thinks the food is much better than it is, and the servers buy the hype and don't put forth the effort required to be a good server (which is really a VERY hard job).

But, if you are impressed by hype, hipsters, and touches like recycled basketball courts as floors, you will love Root Down. The food tries to be unique, and it's not terrible, but if Root Down were really as cool as it thinks it is, you wouldn't ever be able to get in there.

And as someone said, the space really is great. I can't wait to see what the next person does with it, which will probably be by the end of next year (maybe even this year).

Jan 02, 2010
AndIDontMind in Mountain States

Denver Restaurants: A Few Ideas/Opinions

Wow, that is a great list.

I just finished mentioning a sort-of negative experience I had at Bones, but your comment about getting take-out soup on a cold night (or when a loved one is under the weather) is a great idea.

I think their noodle bowls are a little long on broth and a little short on protein in my experience, but perhaps I have been there on a couple of off nights (they happen) or perhaps my expectations aren't fair (Asian isn't my bailiwick).

That said, they did seem to do a brisk carry-out business, and at your suggestion, I might add to it.

And like others said, thanks for posting this list. Wow.

Dec 23, 2009
AndIDontMind in Mountain States

DENVER - Visiting from Sunday till Friday 12/18 - need recommendations for dinners.

Would love to know where you went and what you thought, but I'll add a couple of thoughts about some of the places that were recommended (in case others read this thread later).

Frasca Food and Wine (Boulder) - hands down, the best restaurant I've ever been to. It stands up against the best in any city in this country in all areas - food, service, wine, everything. The prices here are always creeping upward, but couple that with the economy and Frasca is no longer as hard to get into as it was 2 or 3 years ago. I wish I made more money and could go more often.

Bones - I had a bad experience here, then a so-so experience. The bad experience - I stopped by with a friend before a show, and my friend ran in to see if they could squeeze us in at the last minute, knowing we had to make a show. They said, "Sure, just 10 minutes" so I valeted the car and proceeded to go inside and wait a full 30 minutes before they told us "Sorry, we thought something might open up." I didn't mind not getting to eat; I minded that they told us they could fit our schedule, then waited long enough to tell us they COULDN'T that eating anyplace was a challenge at that point. That's a management issue, I think. When I did eat there, I was really impressed with a couple things. The cocktails were inspired, original, and great. Credit to their bartender. The first courses we had were tremendous - the steamed buns are some of the best things in Denver. But the noodles, while tasty, didn't justify the price - just noodles in broth, with a tiny amount of lobster and some spices thrown in and the price jacked WAY up. I don't mind paying for a good dinner, but I felt like I was getting ripped off at Bones.

TAG - for fun, eclectic, and young, this fits the bill. The food isn't the best in town, but I always end up going back (a client's office is nearby) and each time I like it a little bit more. Like a lot of "trendy" places (Root Down comes to mind), the service can be VERY spotty, but it's a younger crowd with some really good food. I like nine75 a little more (Chef Troy Guard's previous restaurant), but that's just me.

Steuben's - also a young, trendy place. I like (no, LOVE) the idea, but sometimes the execution doesn't match up with their self-imposed expectations of cuteness, imho. Pretty good food, some of it very good, and a unique concept (sort of old school Southern food with a modern flair) that speaks to the kinds of things I like, but much like it was said about "The Godfather" in Family Guy, Steuben's "insists upon itself." They think they are just so cute and creative, and sometimes they are, but in totality they sometimes miss that mark of uniquess they set for themselves.

Dec 23, 2009
AndIDontMind in Mountain States

Wine with bananas?

Peeled fresh banana

Nov 16, 2009
AndIDontMind in Wine

Wine with bananas?

Fresh bananas.

Nov 16, 2009
AndIDontMind in Wine

Wine with bananas?

May be an odd request, but I'd like to find a wine to go with bananas.

Any suggestions?

Nov 15, 2009
AndIDontMind in Wine

Things to add to chili recipe?

Wow, thanks everybody. What great ideas. The fresh peppers (probably when my guests are OK with heat), the bacon, the fresh spices, the cinnamon, even the warning about using too much smoked paprika. It's all great advice.

Thanks! This is why this board is so great. I'm gonna try the bacon suggestion first, then work from there... maybe the corn chips idea, too.

Nov 06, 2009
AndIDontMind in Home Cooking

Things to add to chili recipe?

I have been using a very simple chili recipe - ground beef, taco seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, cheese, kidney and pinto beans, and salsa - and plan to make a pot this weekend.

I'd like to punch it up. What are some unique items I could add, and at what point in the cooking process should I add them?

I'm considering adding raw onion instead of onion powder, and maybe some chopped green pepper. Thought about some smoked paprika.

I'd love other suggestions, spices, whatever. Thanks!

Nov 06, 2009
AndIDontMind in Home Cooking

DENVER - truly amazing food?

Here's one more person who was not impressed with Osteria Marco.

And I'll go with you guys to Domo!

May 20, 2009
AndIDontMind in Mountain States

Green Chili Cheese Burger

Is there a place in the Denver area with a killer Green Chile Cheeseburger?

Feb 19, 2009
AndIDontMind in Southwest

Experience at Watermark - Nashville (long)

A friend in Nashville had raved about Watermark for some time, so on a recent trip we grabbed dinner there. It was an interesting experience that I thought you chowhounds might enjoy, so here goes!

Watermark is absolutely the kind of place I love. An upscale take on traditional Southern cuisine using quality, locally-sourced ingredients. It SHOULD be a home run, and for me, the food was pretty good but not great. But the service and overall ambience was so bad as to offset the food.

As for the food:

I ordered the stone ground grit souffle, the fried green tomatoes, and the pork chop with cornbread pudding. My friend ordered the kampachi appetizer, the watermelon salad, and the grouper with corn cream.

The grit souffle was very good, but the menu indicated the dish included "local goat cheese" along with smoked bacon butter sauce. I could absolutely not taste ANY goat cheese in the souffle, but the smoked bacon butter sauce was the best thing I tasted all night. The tomatoes used in the fried green tomato appetizer were, amazingly, TOO green, but the butter poached rock shrimp was absolute perfection. Shrimp is so easy to overcook, and this was cooked perfectly. The pork chop was about twice the size it needed to be, but the sour cherry relish accompaniment was very good (although didn't seem seasonal to me).

My friend enjoyed his food, but only raved about the grouper. He was "confused" by the presentation of the watermelon salad, which came stacked with some shrimp, some onion, some cheese, and some arugula. When he received the kampachi appetizer and asked the server for a description of the dish, she said "it's like sushi" and scampered off. I think he wanted something more detailed to describe what was a unique dish.

But as for the ambience and service:

The ambience in Watermark was not what I would expect from a restaurant of that caliber. First of all, the tables in the main dining room were so crowded together that my friend's chair was bumped repeatedly (as many as 30 times) without a single apology by staff coursing through the restaurant, and bumped a few times (usually with apology) by diners making their way to and from their seats. Further, and I know it's summer and hot and humid in Nashville, it was miserably hot INSIDE Watermark. When we arrived, they offered us a seat outside (which we declined) but I still LITERALLY dripped with sweat the entire meal. It must have been 80+ degrees in the restaurant. Some people will complain about the noise, but I am never turned off by noise in a trendy restaurant - it indicates bustle, action, and excitement.

But the service was an absolute letdown. I don't specifically blame the server, but rather the fact that she was woefully undertrained. Here are the examples:

1. When we ordered our meals, I told her what we ordered and asked her to recommend a white wine, specifically requesting "something refreshing" since it was so hot. Further, I told her I had been into rieslings this summer, so anything like that would be great. She thumbed through the wine list, never making any suggestions, and my friend asked "Do you have a sommelier?" She replied, "Yes we do, but he's not here tonight (a busy weekend night)." Eventually, I chose a wine on my own, and she could tell I was frustrated and she offered, "I've only been here two weeks and it's hard to know all 500 wines." I don't blame a restaurant for having a 500-bottle wine list, but if the servers absolutely cannot recommend a wine for a party of two, and the sommelier is not in the building either, then the restaurant doesn't need a 500-bottle wine list.

2. Before I ordered, I noticed that the party next to me had the grit souffle appetizer, and it had what appeared to be mushrooms in the sauce (they were not listed on the menu description, however.). When I ordered, I asked the server specifically if the souffle sauce included mushrooms, and she said it did, so I asked her to leave them off due to a food allergy. She asked me how serious the allergy was, and I said "I won't keel over," and when the souffle arrived, of course it had the mushrooms all in the sauce. I reminded the server that I had requested no mushrooms, and she said "Oh, I'm SO sorry. SO SO sorry. Please forgive me," but she never offered to remove, replace, or refund the appetizer. I eventually asked for more sauce and received that.

3. The pacing of the meal (I know this isn't the server, but rather the kitchen) was WILDLY divergent. We would wait 25 minutes for one course, then the next would be served IMMEDIATELY after finishing the first. While this is a service problem, it's not the server's fault, but indicates a potential overall problem.

All in all, I'd go back. But only once - and if the service were bad again, I would ascribe it to a sysmetic failure to train staff. The food was very good (not great), but the service was so bad as to be off-putting.

Anybody else have any experiences like this?

Aug 06, 2008
AndIDontMind in General South Archive