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Thirsty? Check out newly opened Union Station gastropub

April 30, 2014

Portland-based Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill opened its first Denver location at 1605 Wynkoop St. in the renovated One Union Station building on Tuesday.

The first restaurant in the Union Station redevelopment to open, Thirsty Lion serves lunch, happy hour and dinner. The gastropub features 8,393 square feet of interior seating, handcrafted food, 52 beers on tap and more than 2,000 square feet of downtown patio space.

“We are extremely excited to open our newest location in the Union Station neighborhood,” said Thirsty Lion CEO John Plew. “Thirsty Lion is the perfect fit for this neighborhood and we look forward to providing Denver with great service, a diverse menu, local quality ingredients, and not to mention a great selection of local craft beer.”

Thirsty Lion’s culinary commitment is to provide an eclectic variety of multi-cultural cuisines with an emphasis on local ingredients, bold flavors and scratch recipes. A seasonal fresh sheet will focus on the changing season’s offerings including fresh seafood, quality meats and local vegetables and fruits.

The bar will feature 52 beers on tap, 28 of which are from Colorado. The gastropub also features craft cocktails that utilize combinations of fresh fruit purees, juices and premium liquors, as well as 25 different wines by the glass.

“At Thirsty Lion, we work hard to combine quality ingredients and scratch recipes to create menu items that satisfy the ‘foodie’ in all of us,” said Thirsty Lion executive chef Keith Castro. “The flavor profiles are complex, yet blend well in their simplistic approach to create ‘craveable’ food; an intense desire for more.”

Open from 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. For more information visit www.thirstylionpub.com/denver.

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A menu sneak peek of Argyll Whisky Beer, coming soon to Uptown

April 11, 2014

Robert Thompson is bringing back his acclaimed gastropub, Argyll Whisky Beer, to 17th and Downing. Argyll’s motto, “Eat Well – Drink Slowly – Speak Warmly” will focus on local, fresh, ingredients prepared by chef John Broening and will be paired with Level 2 Cicerone Ryan Conklin’s dimensional and balanced global beer program.

The food will be “elevated British pub cuisine” and will feature items such as Gin Cured Salmon, a “spot of tea” which is chicken and pork tea broth, ramen noodles and vegetables and it couldn’t be an English pub with Bangers and Mash.  Loyal Argyll customers will be delighted to know that the Scotch egg returns.

Grand opening is scheduled for mid-May.  They will be open 7 days a week for lunch/brunch, happy hour, dinner and late night.  Like them on Facebook to stay apprised of the opening date and events.

The bar (below) and the community room (bottom) at the new Argyll Whisky Beer, scheduled to open in May at 17th and Downing in Uptown.Argyll Gastropub 2013_03_30 Community Room

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Denver-based sub shop Quiznos files for bankruptcy protection

February 28, 2014

Trouble in toasted sandwich land.

Denver-based Quiznos, whose original store is less than two blocks away from me, is filing its second major financial restructuring in two years. The once thriving sub sandwich shop chain is struggling with debt and several store closures.

According to a Denver Post story, which also quotes The Wall Street Journal, “a debt restructuring or bankruptcy filing has been expected and it’s inevitable,” Restaurant Finance Monitor editor Jonathan Maze said. “The business model just does not work. Sales are falling and franchisees are struggling mightily.”

“The chain reportedly has defaulted on its debt and has been negotiating for weeks with creditors.

Citing unnamed sources, the WSJ reports Quiznos and a consortium of creditors are in the process of creating a so-called prepackaged bankruptcy that would restructure Quiznos’ $570 million in debt.

Quiznos  operated about 5,000 restaurants at its peak in 2008 but the count since has dropped to  an estimated 2,100.

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Chef Coohill heads to Iceland to compete in the 2014 Food and Fun Festival

February 19, 2014

Tom Coohill, chef/owner of Coohills  at 1400 Wewatta St. has been invited to compete in Iceland’s Food and Fun Festival. He has accepted and will attend.

The festival takes place in Reykjavik from Feb. 26 through March 2, and includes 13 guest chefs and finest restaurants.

Coohill is paired with Rub 23, a restaurant that specializes in ingredients from Icelandic fishermen and farmers and serves a wide selection of sushi.

The other food element of the festival is the chef competition, which takes place on the last day. The chefs compete by creating three courses from Icelandic-only ingredients.

Fellow chef, Jennifer Jasinski, a “Top Chef Masters” contender and chef/owner of Rioja and other restaurants, will be serving as a judge at the festival, adding another Denver connection to the event.

Chef Coohill said he is elated about being asked to compete in the Food and Fun Festival, partly because he and his wife and business partner, Diane, have made strong bonds with the Icelandic chefs who have come to collaborate in the Coohills’ kitchen.

In the two years since Coohills opened, the restaurant has been selected to host Icelandic chefs for the national “A Taste of Iceland” event, part of a promotional campaign sponsored by Iceland Naturally.  In Denver, the Taste of Iceland dinners are culinary collaborations between Coohill and an Icelandic chef.  In 2012, Coohills welcomed Hakon Mar Orvarsson and in 2013, chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon, captain of the Icelandic Culinary Team.

“Working with both chefs Hakon and Thrainn over the past two years has been an amazing experience.” Tom said, adding, “Joining forces with other chefs in the kitchen is one of the great joys of being in this business and now, to be invited to Iceland to compete with 12 extremely talented chefs, is humbling and extremely exciting. I can’t wait to cook and create.”

Chef Coohill studied under masters of French cuisine and opened the famed Ciboulette restaurant in Atlanta in 1992. Ciboulette was praised for its modern French fare, featured in “Gourmet” and named to “Esquire Magazine’s” list of Top 25 Restaurants in the country. Chef Coohill was invited to be a guest chef at Cordon Bleu in Paris and The James Beard House in New York City.

Tom Coohill, owner and chef of Coohills, is headed to Iceland to compete in a cooking challenge.

Tom Coohill, owner and chef of Coohills, is headed to Iceland to compete in a cooking challenge.

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Sonoda’s Sushi in LoDo bidding sayonara

February 12, 2014

Kenny Sonoda, founding father of the Sonodas chain of sushi restaurants, has opted to call it quits on his LoDo eatery at 1620 Market St. after nearly 19 years.

Sonoda, 65, is trying to retire, but his original spot at 3108 S. Parker Road in Aurora, a place he opened in 1995, will remain open.

Here’s what Sonoda posted on www.sonodassushi.com:

“With over 26 years in the business now behind me the time has come for me to hand up the knives and announce my retirement. And yet it is with more than a bit of sadness that I announce the closure of my Downtown Restaurant on Market Street on Feb. 15.

“In 1973 I first came to Denver, Colorado,to help build and open the Gasho of Japan, a Japanese Hibachi style steak house in downtown Denver (1627 Curtis St.). In 1976, I returned to Denver to build a free standing building of Gasho of Japan Restaurant. This time I build a replica of a 400-year-old Gasho farm house, found in Takayama City of Japan, the sister city to Denver, Colorado. This Gasho of Japan restaurant was located in DTC on Belleview and I-25 where Shanahan’s Steak House is currently standing.

“In 1988, I opened my first Sonodas Sushi Restaurant in Aurora, Colorado. I was one of the first to introduce the cuisine to Denver hen the concept of sushi and sashimi was still unknown. I worked hard to teach Denver about a tradition and a delicacy that I love so very much. I cannot say that I ever imagined that sushi would become the trend it has, but I am happy that my adopted country has grown to love it in the way that I have my entire life.

“I have been fortunate to met and get to know entire families. I have watched their children grow and have children of their own but it is no time for me to retire and enjoy the next chapter of my life. I will miss all of you. That task now falls on the shoulders of the man who started Sonodas with me so many years ago — my friend and master sushi chef Makoto Kawafne.

“Makoto will continue to serve you and your families at his Aurora location. Your Welcome Club points can be used there as always and he will greet you with the same family spirit that I have.

“And one more time, Domo Arigato.”

As a proud Auroran for more than 15 years, On the Town Junior and I, along with my On the Town sister when she visited from Chicago, made it our tradition to dine at the original Sonoda’s. We had the time of our lives! Thanks, Kenny, for the memories!


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Boulder’s Bacaro bids bye-bye

February 10, 2014

After 15 years in business in downtown Boulder, Bácaro Venetian Taverna is closing its doors on March 5.

Chris Holston purchased Bacaro from Corrado Fasano within the past few  months, and Holston will be doing major renovations to the space before opening a new restaurant in late spring. Corrado is moving on to other business ventures,
including PastaVino, where he’s part owner.

To celebrate, Bácaro is offering 15 percent off all restaurant and bar purchases through March 5, (not including happy hour and other special discounts). The month-long farewell February celebration will culminate with a Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday party on March 4.


(Bácaro Venetian Taverna photo)

(Bácaro Venetian Taverna photo)

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The Fort offers post-holiday dining discounts, transportation to Morrison

January 22, 2014

National historic landmark and premier Denver wild game restaurant, The Fort, is offering large families and companies an added perk for their belated holiday celebrations.

Parties of 25 or more people who are booked Monday through Thursday nights throughout the month of January qualify for The Fort’s Roundup promotion, which includes complimentary bus transportation to and from the restaurant in Morrison. Contact The Fort’s private dining manager Jennefer Weeks for more details, as bookings are filling up quickly and certain restrictions do apply.

“We are thrilled to once again offer The Fort’s Roundup promotion,” said Weeks, The Fort’s private dining manager. “Offering to pay for transportation costs is our way of thanking the parties that come here to celebrate with us. We have so much fun, show our customers that we’re grateful they chose to celebrate at The Fort, and we know that everyone gets home safely.”

The main dining room is very popular with its fireplace and views of the foothills, lights of Denver and the plains beyond. The room features a beamed ceiling, artwork, and authentic mid-nineteenth-century artifacts. Most rooms contain original artwork and various items from the fur trade period to truly transport guests back into Colorado history.

For more information on The Fort Roundup or to reserve your post-holiday party space, contact Weeks at banquets@thefort.com or call 303-697-2282.

It's always a party at The Fort in Morrison, The famed restaurant is offering a special banquet deal for big events the rest of January. (The Fort photo)

It’s always a party at The Fort in Morrison, The famed restaurant is offering a special banquet deal for big events the rest of January. (The Fort photo)

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Fruition chef Alex Seidel names new Union Station eatery

January 10, 2014

Fruition chef Alex Seidel and business partners Stephanie Caraway and Matthew Vawter have settled on a name of their new restaurant concept opening this summer in Denver’s redeveloped Union Station.

Mercantile Dining & Provision will be a European-style restaurant and market open seven days a week. The gourmet market will serve early morning coffee and pastries along with a full menu of breakfast and lunch items.

The restaurant will serve dinner only featuring Colorado ingredients with as many items as possible sourced from Seidel’s Fruition Farms.

Seidel has been named “5280 Magazine’s” Chef of the Year and one of “Food & Wine Magazine’s” Best New Chefs for 2010. Vawter will serve as chef de cuisine.

Caraway, Mercantile’s wine director, who was named Sommelier of the Year by “Food & Wine”, will oversee the wine, beer and cocktail menu to pair with the restaurant’s food selections.

For more information, go to www.unionstationdenver.com.

Alex Seidel, chef of Fruition and part of the new Union Station eater, Mercantile

Alex Seidel, chef of Fruition, and his partners are naming their new Union Station eatery, Mercantile Dining & Provision.

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Denver’s Bark Bar is a ‘ruff’ place to hang with your four-legged friend

January 10, 2014

I guess that Denver’s bar business has gone to the dogs … in a good way. Read all about Bark Bar where your four-legged furry friends can accompany you on a “barking break.”.

The spot at 4132 W. 38th Ave. is a dog park, bar and coffee house in northwest Denver. (No leg lifting allowed!). Check out the full story at http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2014/01/bark_bar.php.

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