Friday, December 21, 2007


There was a time, not long ago, when I thought of the suburbs as a foodie wasteland. I thought there could be nothing good to eat there, with all of the really tasty vittles relegated to downtown. To be honest, I never gave anything a chance, having lived within spitting distance of downtown for the majority of the last decade. Recently, a life-change moved me to Westminster, that most northern of Denver suburban sprawls. Thing is, I was still as hungry as I was downtown. So what's a girl to do?

My first need was sushi. If I could choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, that's what it would be. I like it all- sashimi, nigiri, inari, and mostly, the American-ized rolls. I know they're not traditional, but I passionately love things like cream cheese and avocado in my deep-fried tempura roll. Oh hell yeah. But I digress.

Sushi in the 'burbs, huh? A friend of a friend of a- well, you get the idea- recommended Taigun, which is tucked into a little strip of shopping extravagance just south of Flatirons Mall. I don't expect much when my view is of DSW and the Honeybaked Ham store. On our first trip, we almost left as soon as we opened the door. The middle of the small room was occupied by 4 adults and 5 children. Anytime the children at a table out-number the adults, I sense a mutiny coming and I don't want to be involved. Still, the sushi monster in my stomach could not be stopped. And it was long way to anywhere else.

I wouldn't suggest sitting at the sushi bar during the winter, as it is right next to the front door. Unless you like dining in the arctic of course. It does make the fish taste fresher. Taigun has an extensive list of rolls, including 6 varieties of California Roll for the less adventurous sushi-eater. Normally, we order 3 rolls per person. Bad idea at Taigun- their rolls are enormous. Bigger than any I have seen anywhere. Which is freakin' awesome of course, because 2 rolls are more than enough to fill me up there, and my pocketbook likes that.

My dining companion always begins with the Miso soup, and he attested that Taigun's is indeed excellent. I tried the vegetable tempura. For around $6, you get a huge mound of perfectly tempura'd veggies, including yams. I love yams. Then on to the good stuff: The Alaskan Dream roll is basically a Philadelphia (cream cheese, salmon) with some crab added and salmon on top. It truly is a dream. The fish was fresh and cut perfectly, with generous chunks of the delectable salmon inside. Two of our other rolls were variations of spicy tuna. Taigun's spicy tuna is AMAZING. You can see flecks of pepper and cilantro dotting the tartare-style tuna. Very spicy, very delicious. I particularly enjoyed it topping the One Night Stand roll, which consists of shrimp tempura and cream cheese.

Our second outing there was much, much quieter (no kids anywhere) and we once again enjoyed every bite. This place is great if you live out north, or just happen to be shopping at the mall. I don't know if I'd make a trip across town for it, but it definitely raised my expectations of the suburbs. I know I'll be back soon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Victory American Grill- UPDATE


I want this place to be good. I want to like it. I really, really do. Sam's is probably my favorite all-around restaurant in Denver and they own Victory, too. I first visited Victory shortly after they opened (at least a year ago). It's a beautiful space, truly stunning. Gorgeous high ceilings, dark wood everywhere, dramatic red velvet curtains hanging at the back and a long bar on one side of the room. You feel as though you've stepped back into the 1920's at first- it's an awesome first impression.

Unfortunately, it all goes downhill from there. I don't know why they have felt the need to ruin that 1920's, classy vibe. First ruiner: cheesy looking menus- reminded me of a cheap Italian joint. Not only are the menus ugly, but they're covered with weird, unfunny quips and "jokes". If that wasn't bad enough, someone had the bright idea to take those same unfunny jokes, type them up, FRAME them, and stick them right up on the back of those lovely dark wood booths. Maybe I'm the one missing the joke...

When we dined there on Saturday night at prime dinner time (7'ish), the place was pretty dead (although still really really noisy for some reason). The service wasn't bad at all- our server was sweet and prompt with refills, which I always appreciate. But man were there a lot of employees wandering aimlessly. It seemed like every 5 seconds another employee was walking past our table... it just felt like a constant stream. I don't know if it's where we were sitting, but it if was, they should have put us somewhere a little more 'out of traffic'.

The food- very very mediocre. Admittedly, I just had a burger rather than one of their overpriced, out-of-place entrees. But honestly, how can you be so cheap with the mushrooms on a mushroom-swiss burger? Mushrooms are cheap! There were like 5 of them on my burger though :( And they looked like those weird little canned ones that had been microwaved or something. If you can't get a burger right, I'm not paying $25 for a pasta or fish item. We didn't even bother with desserts, although I was intrigued by the flaming cherries jubillee and bananas foster. I would have felt silly ordering these in an empty restaurant- and besides, I didn't trust the cooks with an open flame.

The Corner Office

Although I don't usually like to even hear the word office on the weekends, I decided to go to The Corner Office for brunch one recent Sunday morning. Ok, so it wasn't exactly morning, it was more like 2pm. But brunch goes til 5 pm here, so it's completely acceptable to lay around in your PJ's all day and stroll in for breakfast food well into the afternoon.

I actually wouldn't have even thought to try this place for food, as I was under the impression from driving past it that it was mostly just a bar. I was also a bit put-off by the location directly under the new downtown student housing for the Auraria campus, at 14th & Curtis. It is actually a part of the cool-looking new Curtis Hotel, which takes up the first several floors of the old Executive Tower building, so my cafeteria-food, college-bar fears were abated.

I have been on a mission for years to find chicken and waffles, if for no other reason than the sheer novelty of the dish. When I heard that the Corner Office had this item on their menu, I knew I had to be there. Now.

I did indeed get the chicken and waffles, with a side of toast and Nutella (yums!). The toast turned out to be wholly unnecessary. After a bit of a wait (no biggie, as I had nowhere to be on a lazy Sunday afternoon), a massive pile of 4 huge chunks of fried chicken (1 wing, 2 legs and a thigh I believe) on top of a big ol' Belgian waffle was plopped down in front of me. It was all covered in a melty delicious goo of grease and powdered sugar. The fried chicken was wonderful and cooked perfectly. The waffle stayed crisp and sweet under all that deliciousness. It was quite a wonderful, if not coma-inducing, experience. I imagine this is the best hangover food out there.

The rest of the menu looked very promising- lobster mac n cheese, Asian noodle bowls, etc. It's all on the website, and honestly, my eyes were focused on the chix n waffles from the beginning. I know I'll be back though. The prices are also quite reasonable... our total bill for 2 orders of the aforementioned entree, side of Nutella-y toast, side of potatoes and 2 sodas was around $32. Average entree price seemed to be about $9.

I love the decor, too. Very 70's retro, but done in a very tasteful way with a modern touch. We sat in a grandmas-couch colored booth next to some wood paneling under a beautiful multi-colored tile wall. Another wall was covered in clocks all set to 5 pm. Cozy and hip at the same time. Service was friendly and fast too. Highly recommended!

Cuba Cuba Cafe

I've been wanting to go to Cuba Cuba forever, and I'm not sure why I haven't- I only live a couple of blocks away. I finally got my chance for a family celebration recently. Walking in, you feel like you're entering a (very cool) friends house. It may feel that way because, well, it is a house. Two houses to be exact, cobbled together and painted a soothing, tropical shade of turquoise. Note the (fake) palm trees out front, and you'll feel transported to an illicit country-which-shall-not-be-named.

We started out with a pitcher of tasty, tasty Mojitos... or 'swamp water' as pops refers to it. They're an awesome deal- the waiter said we'd get 8 drinks out of the $35 pitcher, but we managed around 12 (3 each for a group of 4 of us sharing). Even after my big meal I was still tipsy. Score! The rest of the fam was happy with the bottled Red Stripe, which you can't find everywhere in Colorado.

We are kind of picky about our Cuban food, having lived in Florida for many years. I am also skeptical of paying a lot of money for it, since you can buy it for next to nothing down there. I was happy to see all my Cuban favorites, such as Ropa Vieja on the menu. I opted for the special of the night, duck cooked 'Vaca Frita' style- crispy on the outside, juicy inside. Yummy! The paella looked delicious too. For dessert we almost all opted for the Quatros Leches... a traditional Tres Leches with chocolate milk added in. Also wonderful.

Great atmosphere, excellent service, and a happy family. I'll be back!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Steuben's is the latest creation from the masterminds behind Vesta Dipping Grill (aka My Favorite Restaurant of All Time). Of course, when I heard this, I got myself over there as fast as humanly possible, led by my tongue and stomach. I was not disappointed.

The atmosphere at Steuben's is sort of Brady Bunch-meets-Isaac Hayes. Wood-paneling and mirrored walls, high booths and glassware from Grandma's estate sale make the place feel hip in a homey way. In warmer times, grab a seat outside, either on the front patio (good for people watching along 17th Ave) or on the side patio (cool lawn furniture and strings of lights overhead). I haven't found a bad seat yet.

Steuben's boasts an impressive drink menu, chock full of good Flying Dog beers, old-fashioned fun drinks like Mint Juleps, Gin Rickey's, and (for the non-drinkers) Egg Creams and Yoo-Hoo. Oh, and don't forget the delicious sweet tea- a downright delicacy here in the frozen tundra of Denver.

Everything about the food at Steuben's is fun. Just looking at the menu makes me smile. If you want a comfy appetizer, go for the delectable deviled eggs. If you're feeling more adventurous, try the habanero honey fried corn- 4 little cobs of corn rolled in honey butter and coated with a spicy dusting. Yums! I know many others who swear by the gravy fries.

I've only personally tried two of the entrees on the menu, as I'm usually drawn to the wonderful sandwiches and sides. The Memphis BBQ Ribs were amazing though! Fall-off-the-bone meat, sweet and spicy sauce... mmm. Definitely a good meal. In my opinion, the macaroni and cheese entree is not the best deal. It didn't seem that much bigger than a side of mac and cheese, but it costs $5 more. The side is definitely worth it though, as it is one fantastic plate of mac and cheese. Rich and creamy, but not in an overwhelming way. Some other entree offerings include Cioppino, Fried Chicken and a Vegetarian Chile Relleno. Specials are also offered nightly, featuring items such as Prime Rib and Carne Adobado.

Now for my favorite part of Steuben's. The sandwiches! I've eaten about half of the items on this section of the menu, and I loved them all. The Cubano was not quite what I used to get growing up in Florida, but still tasty- and the chimichurri is so good it's made it's way onto Vesta's menu. The Cheese Steak is out of this world! Greasy and sopping with cheese-wizzy goodness- just the way it should be. I look forward to trying the Maine Lobster Roll at some point, but I'm having trouble shelling out $16 for a sandwich.

The sandwiches don't come with sides, but the prices are very reasonable, and it's nice to have some choices. The side of Steuben's Fries are a must- tons of thin-cut fries served in a tin can. You can also choose baked beans, pickles, creamed spinach, and many other items.

Lastly, Steuben's offers a great brunch on the weekends from 10-3. The Egg in a Hole is a nice piece of toast with an egg in the middle, covered in one of the most delicious sauces I have ever had. I literally wanted to lick my plate. My dining companion ordered the Cast Iron Vanilla French Toast, which is actually battered in vanilla ice cream. How can you go wrong with that? It's also got a nice sticky caramel sauce on the top.

I have only had one less-than-stellar experience at Steuben's (one night all of our food seemed to have been marinated in garlic), but I have let that go the way of the dinosaur. Every other experience there (and there have been many, at all hours of the day and night) has been wonderful. The service is great, the prices are shockingly low for such quality, and the food is just what I would expect from the Vesta team.

Free parking is available on the east side of the building, as well as along the side streets in the surrounding area. Metered parking is available right out front along 17th Ave.