Archive for April, 2012

Five Points Jazz Fest to Honor Bob Montgomery, Downtown’s Own!

One of the great annual urban jazz festivals, the Five Points Jazz Festival, has chosen a great trumpeter this year! Bob Montgomery will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the May 19 event.

A Well-Deserved Honor!

Montgomery, a longtime Dowtown Denver resident, has played with jazz greats and legends galore worldwide. He is a well-known educator and mentor to many.  He was featured recently in a Denver by the Slice profile here.

And, he’s still playing as often as possible locally and throughout Europe and Australia. He’s been more than instrumental in the success of the Telluride Jazz Festival. You can hear him play with his own or  several local groups of fine Denver jazz musicians at the Wazee, Dazzle, and El Chapultepec, among others, on a regular basis.

The Five Points Jazz Festival is a production of the City and County of Denver, Arts and Venues. With 6 stages and over 100 musicians, this year’s event starts at noon on Saturday, May 19 and runs until 7:00 p.m. all along Welton Street in Five Points. Of course, it’s free!

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given at about 3:00 on the Main Stage. Come out and meet your neighbor! Congratulations, Bob!

Three Perfect Reasons to Go To Trillium!

Any one of these would do. But, all together is the norm for this unique restaurant at 2134 Larimer Street.

The Place. The Food. The People.

Open Dining, Open Kitchen

With all the news of glossy new restaurants opening, and closing, in Downtown Denver, one that opened in 2011 really stands out in the Ballpark Neighborhood. Chef/Owner Ryan Leinonen worked with his architect to re-design an old pawn shop space into an open and warm dining room. The room is unique among all the re-habs of this rapidly changing strip of Larimer Street. The space, combined with the place, just a long pop foul from Coors Field, make this a worthy destination.

Trillium‘s food concept is officially “Eclectic cuisine rooted in the American and Scandinavian culinary tradition”. We’d prefer to define it as simply “creative and delicious, obviously carefully prepared and well-sourced.” Same thing. Good! Chef Ryan brings his Finnish heritage from Michigan to locally available ingredients. Except for the smelt. They fly in.

Perfectly Scandinavian!

Denver by the Slice enjoyed a wine-paired dinner including steelhead trout, duck breast and caraway spaetzle. And, not enough of one of Leinonen’s favorite ingredients, grilled marbled rye. Every course was a work of dedication.

Oh, and the people. Chef Ryan has been around. In Denver since 2003, he’s worked in some very well-known kitchens and cooked at the James Beard House in New York. He’s joined by partner/beverage director/sommelier Kelly Wooldridge providing affable and knowledgeable guidance to all things liquid. Kelly’s from the Kansas City area and worked in its well-known The American Restaurant. He even went to the same Kansas high school as this writer, albeit at very different times.

These guys are genuine in their efforts and intent. And, they are happy to come around and take you through the journey. Trillium was named a “Best New Restaurant” in 2011 by both Westword and 5280 magazine. It’s a bright flower, indeed, up there on Larimer Street. You have every reason to go!

Take a Seat! In Fact, Please Take 60 Seats, 30 Tables and 2 Really Large Wooden Booths!

Seat Yourself

The Wazee Lounge and Supper Club will close this Thursday for re-modeling. It should reopen about three weeks later. All new and shiny.

Now, we know at least one part that will be entirely different. Shannon would love to sell you the furniture…right away…for a negotiable bargain price. About $1000 will get you all the tables and ice-cream parlor chairs. Another $1500 will get you the two very large curved wooden booths. (You’ll need a special kind of room for those, one that many downtown residents may not have.) But, cash and carry and you could furnish a whole new place.

Every chair at the Wazee has a story to tell. They’ve been occupied by some of Denver’s finest assets over the years. This is the ultimate chance to pick your own seat!

Sleeps Six

Call Shannon at 303-623-9518. She really, really wants to hear from you. Just don’t let her sell you the famous Wazee floor!

(And, speaking of trying to move stuff, Denver by the Slice is giving away a 50″ rear-projection TV, in good working order, free to anyone who comes and takes it away. Big screen for a big room. Call 303-718-1365 and mention the promotional code, BIGFREETV, or email the publication.)

Trolling for Tacos

"That's My Customer!" "No, He's Mine!"

The block of Blake Street between 15th Street and the 16th Street Mall is shaping up to be a new urban battleground. With neighbor fighting neighbor for their dining dollars.

What a difference a year makes. Not long ago, the block sported an eclectic mix of ethnic restaurants with something for everybody. Now, there is still something for everybody…that is if you like tacos or sushi. Gone is the organic breakfast and sandwich place with its forgivable sporadic service and quality. Gone is Ghugi and his well-prepared Indian food occasionally accompanied by a sitar. Gone is the Moroccan spot with the cushy booths, wacky host and sword dancers. Gone is Scott and Wanda’s rum and jerk.

Welcome, fish and tacos and fish tacos! Is it just coincidental that the new Aoba Japanese Restaurant was in the midst of remodeling the former Organnix that they found out Hapa Sushi (Cherry Creek) was buying India House next door and planning on serving sushi plenty?

And, when Troy Guard (TAG and TAG Raw Bar, Larimer Square) along with partner H-Burger announced plans to open T-ACO in the former 8 Rivers space, did they notice they were next door to D’Corazon, still knocking out volume business with LoDo’s most authentic Mexican food? (D’Corazon, a family owned restaurant, does so well they close at least twice a year for two weeks…for vacation! Many other restaurants do that these days?)

Or, did the aforementioned Mr. Guard and Mr. Burger notice Wahoo’s Fish Taco across the street? Or, the Rio Grande with it’s new “urban camp ground” anchored by their very own non-moving food truck called Black Crow? Selling tacos and hefty margaritas.

Dumplings Trump Tacos, Tuna

Well, there goes the neighborhood. All that’s left for the rest is a couple of beer joints, a coffee place and some sorry place trying to sell wieners. What ever happened to steak houses?

But, don’t forget Cholon, gladly taking the corner window at 16th. If you don’t need another taco, or you’ve lost your taste for wasabi, stay on the block and go to Cholon for some award-winning modern Asian food from Chef Lon. Soup dumplings all around!

How to Spend a Sunday Evening in the City

Joined by 250 Fingers and Countless Frets

Believe it or not, this Sunday is the fourth Sunday in April, and time for a Mandolin Concert!

The Denver Mandolin Orchestra will be in tune and in concert at 7:00 in the Mercantile Room of the Wynkoop Brewery. With some new selections, new compositions and, no doubt, some old favorites, this makes for a relaxing evening to wrap up the weekend, or brace yourself for the following days.

Music is free! Beer is good! Enjoy the sweet sound of 25 mandolins this Sunday!

Doors Closed Denver!

This weekend brings the annual tour of buildings and places of interest around town known as “Doors Open Denver”. For no price, historic structures are open that may not typically be open to the public. Expert tours are offered and opportunities exist to visit all those places you’ve been curious about. The event has grown over the years under the auspices of the City. You can learn more about it here, and see the places and schedules. Last Sunday’s Post had a special section with much of the information…but they neglected to include a magnifying glass to read the poorly designed and produced piece. You may, or may not, have better luck with the website.

Out of Business

But, for Downtown residents, there’s an issue of Doors Closed Denver. Dean’s Urban Market, at 23rd and Market, recently closed after just a year of hard-fought business that did not live up to their needs. The store was located in a superbly re-furbished feed store at that corner. The operators were experienced in…and dedicated to…the grocery business. The store was always immaculate, energetic and well-stocked with quality food and basics like paper towels and detergent that you just can’t get at other specialty stores downtown.

But, nobody came. Thousands of residents in a growing Downtown population. And, nobocy came. That’s the problem with Downtown residents. Too many of them just don’t get it. Living Downtown means the possibility of really living Downtown. Shopping Downtown. Eating Downtown. Cooking Downtown. Staying Downtown. Out of a car.

Too many Downtown residents still choose to get in the car and drive a few miles to a big chain grocery store. To get the same things that are available, often in better quality and not often much different in price, right in the neighborhood. In fact, walking a block or two surely trumps spending money on gas and car to get the same thing. Convenience in shopping for Downtown residents is available, but only as long as Downtown residents support the retail structure.

Why do you think we have tacky souvenir shops on the mall? Tourist attraction chain retailers like H & M and The Gap? A congested Walgreens instead of a friendly, local oriented Farmaca? Too many of the people living down here are not supporting the local, truly local, businesses.

Not all Downtown businesses rely on just visitors to the area. Many need our regular support. Galleries, restaurants, services, and retailers have to make it every day, not just on Friday and Saturday nights or game days.

Think about that next car trip to buy something you could have picked up around the corner. Really live Downtown and keep more doors from closing!  

Come Back the Same, Please!

And, speaking of closed doors, April 23 means no Wazee Supper Club pizza! “Two to three weeks,” they say. Closed for some long-planned and extensive remodeling. New bathrooms, kitchen moving, adding air-conditioning, a complete makeover, leaving just the bar and the floor. And, a new look is promised with more changes. All for the better? We have to hope so. But, for those three weeks, where do we get a pizza in this neighborhood?

Alright, only about a dozen other places. But, no Wazee!

One more closing. The Energy House at 15th and Delgany, and its near surroundings on the block across from the Museum of Contemporary Art, are about to go under the wrecking ball. Fences are up around the property and work is beginning on an apartment building  from the Opus people. Just a few more months to enjoy the fine view of Downtown from the roof cafe at the MCA.

Keep the Doors Open…and be careful crossing the streets!

Opening Day!

50,000 In the Stands, Another 50,000 In the LoDo Bars