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!