Down and Out in Denver

This Weekend

Posted in art, bars, denver, design, entertainment, food, music by Alastair on April 8, 2011

Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Poster Show

There are some pretty amazing things happening this weekend. In addition to the suggestions of the dance/design variety provided by the folks at Fancy Tiger, you can Shake your Buddha this evening at MCA Denver from 7:30 – 9:30 pm. There are three openings on Saturday evening: The previously mentioned Grand Opening of the I Heart Denver Store, an Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Poster show to be held at Super Ordinary Gallery located in the RINO Art District, and a few blocks away the opening of Love Letters, “a graphic exploration of the duality of love through typography, symbolism and pop culture” at CREMA Coffee House.

These last two events are part of RiNo’s Second Saturday. And, according to Westword’s Susan Froyd, there will be live music, food trucks, and a number of other gallery open houses and openings in the area.

Get out, bring your checkbook, and have fun this weekend!

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Design After Dark: Get Your Tickets!

Posted in bars, denver, design, fashion, food, gays, parties, wine by Blake on January 29, 2011

Ever since Alastair and I moved here we’ve gone to the Denver Art Museum Design Council’s annual fundraiser — and all-around great party — Design After Dark.  And this year will be no exception. It’s next Friday night, the 4th of February, and if previous years are any basis for judgment, it’s sure to be a great time. You don’t have to know anything about design to attend this thing: while Alastair fancies himself a design buff, I know absolutely nothing except that I like mid-century modern (but what self-respecting homo doesn’t?).  It’s fun no matter what you know. Yes, there are architects and designers competing for the best interpretation of the year’s theme — this year it’s “Light” — and yes, there is a silent auction of various designery accessories and pieces of art.  But the price of a ticket also includes some booze and a whole lot of food and lots of good conversation with, wait for it, stylish people in Denver.  I know you thought such people did not exist — aside from your DOD boys, of course — but if you’re going to find them anywhere, this is the place.  Plus, there’s an after party this year at Beauty Bar beginning at 11.  Gay, anyone?!

So head on over to their website and buy yourself some tickets (click on the ticket button on the bottom right corner).  We’ll see you there!

Walt and Wendy Do Denver (Part Three)

Posted in bars, denver, fashion, food, gays, wine by Alastair on October 28, 2010

Friday evening, in my new role as Cruise Director, I reunited with my San Francisco gal pals Walt and Wendy and their super cute companion Jess (who was sporting an adorable chunky necklace) for a post-conference cocktail at The Corner Office located in the Curtis Hotel at 14th and Curtis. CURTIS, much? There was only one question on everyone’s mind that evening: What happened to Whitney!? She was not seen at the conference that day… and her roommate was also missing in action. Was she OK? Did she survive the night? Did she get alcohol poisoning? These questions would linger in our minds for the remainder of the night as we waited for Jess to receive a text message update.  So, in an effort to take our thoughts off such worries we ordered some tasty cocktails and a selection of delicious shared plates from our tattooed server: a trio of sliders, empanadas, fish tacos, and tempura shoshito peppers stuffed with crab. Yum! We also took notice of the large amount of ink liberally applied to the remianing staff of the Office. Apparently it was a prerequisite to work that evening’s shift.

The Bar at Beatrice & Woodsley

I must confess, over the past few days I had been talking up BoyzTown to both Wendy and Walt. I’m not sure exactly why… It certainly was not for anything spectacular, like the “Male Revue,” but perhaps more for the fact that something like this actually existed in Denver. The boys were excited. After sending Jess off to her flight back to the City by the Bay, Wendy was ready to go! However, it was too early and I wanted to invite my guests to share a civilized cocktail at Beatrice & Woodsley, the South Broadway bar / restaurant know for its unique rustic cabin interior lined with Aspens and chain saws. [Side note: Walt will need to strengthen his hand-washing skills before using B&W’s one-of-a-kind faucet and sink on his next visit. Just saying. It’s a simple pully system people. This ain’t the dark ages.]

One round of cocktails, one crawfish beignet appetizer, and one a call into the office later, it was still too early to show ourselves at BoyzTown. So, we decided to stop by the nearby not-so-hot-spot, Compound/Basix. This would be the evening that Walt earned his nom de plume. BTW, I love how every gay bar in this town describes themselves as “Denver’s Best.” Really? I digress. Walt, dressed in conference attire: jeans, shirt, tie, sweater, blazer, and chucks, apparently caused quite a stir among the Compound cognoscenti, earning him many compliments. Some welcomed, so not so much. This struck Walt as odd, but this is Denver where ill-fitting jeans, and an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt reign supreme. In typical Blake and Alastair fashion, Walt and Wendy often took notice of the terrible jeans that endlessly plague Menver. One gentleman, who took a break from dancing all by his lonesome commented that Walt looked liked something along the lines of an English poet. Walt also had an interesting and similar encounter at 3:00 in the afternoon the same day with a woman drinking her fifth margarita in the Four Seasons elevator. I decided that if I wanted a little more attention in these parts, all I had to do was wear a tie and a blazer, or something along the same lines. Easy enough.

Give it up, give it up for BoyzTown.

Then, finally, Boyztown. Oh Boyztown. Give it up, give it up for Tyler . Give it up for sexy Tyler. A master of disguise… Tyler was striking up conversations left and right with Walt. Oh, our “Little Nugget.” There was lumberjack Tyler, business man Tyler, and Denver Nugget Tyler. Tyler, just about more than any other performer that evening, put some serious thought into his outfits. Give it up, give it up for Tyler .

All of the BoyzTown excitement must have worn out Wendy. He decided it was time to go back to the hotel for the night… shocking indeed! In the meantime, Walt chatted up Tyler, and we had a rather interesting conversation with Jackson regarding his original Rufskin padded chest piece with adjustable straps. And we were generally enjoying ourselves so much that four hours later,  the lights were on and we got the hell out of Dodge!

Before sending Walt off into his cab, we stopped around the corner at El Diablo’s late-night taco window to grab ourselves a snack. That torta had to be one of the best I’ve had in recent memory. If you find yourself looking for something lat at night, I highly suggest El Diablo’s taco window. Quick, fresh, and super delicious.

Walt and Wendy Do Denver (Part Two)

Posted in bars, denver, entertainment, food, gays by Alastair on October 25, 2010

On Thursday, Blake and I accompanied Walt, Wendy, and a small band of Walt’s conference gal pals for our second (and big) night on the town.  And dear DOD readers, it was a bigger night for some, than it was for others. I was feeling like your friendly Cruise Director, Julie McCoy by the end of the night, and one of my passengers would unfortunately experience a case of seasickness. No. Lie.

Alastair, your friendly Cruise Director

Feeling lightly lubricated, thanks to a conference-related gathering at the DAM (and the higher altitude), our out-of-town guests were looking to start their evening out in the world on the right foot. I was confident they would enjoy the legendary Cruise Room just off the lobby of The Oxford Hotel, based on my past experience. The Art Deco décor, the neon-lighted wall panels depicting different toasts from around the world, and the classic cocktail menu did not disappoint our sophisticated visitors. After some lively conversation and a few cocktails some of Walt’s gal pals ordered food from the McCormick’s Fish House menu and I quickly began to plan our next move.

Given the night of the week, the size of our group, and the growing intoxication of some, I knew JR.’s, “Denver’s favorite, award-winning GLBT bar” was the right choice.  We grabbed our taxicabs and headed to JR.’s, but not before Blake and I stopped by Steuben’s for a quick bite that did not require us to rub shoulders with six other guests.

The Cruise Room at The Oxford Hotel

By the time we arrived at JR’s it was clear that one member of Walt’s conference posse, let’s call her Whitney, was letting the booze get the best of her. At one moment, while everyone was seated outside and I was waiting in line to grab a round of drinks, I look over to one corner of the bar to spot Whitney, sitting by herself, drink in hand, and phone on the bar. Despite her intoxication, and frequent declaration of said inebriation, Whitney continued to throw back one cocktail after the next, and to the surprise of many.

After spotting Mondo Guerra from afar, Wendy decided that he had seen all that JR.’s had to offer and yours truly was feeling the pressure to come up with a solution. Charlie’s, the country western themed bar on East Colfax and home to the infamous disco boots! “No matter who you are, you always know that there’s ALWAYS A PARTY AT CHARLIE’S!!!” But, seriously, Wendy could not have been more excited. Walt was beside himself. I could not tear my eyes away from the somewhat hipster hottie in the torn flannel shirt that was tearing up the dance floor. The same excitement was shared by the rest of our guests, except Whitney, who in our excitement realized that she had disappeared, having taken a cab back to her hotel. I think this realization came to us after Blake headed back home. He had an early flight the next morning to the East Coast. So, unfortunately he would miss out on something that would keep Walt, Wendy, and me endlessly entertained for the remaining weekend.

Whitney's first text message

Whitney’s gal pal, who was sharing a room with her during the conference, received a text from Whitney, which she immediately shared with us. “I just vommmmmmed.” Not long after, another text would arrive. “I so siiick.” Seriously. I still laugh out loud when I say that. Maybe you had to be there… We all felt terrible, especially for the woman sharing a room with Whitney. But, what a journey, and what a way to end the night.

Walt and Wendy Do Denver (Part One)

Posted in bars, denver, food, gays by Alastair on October 24, 2010

As Blake recently revealed, there’s been all kinds of busyness going on. No. Lie. This past Wednesday Walt and Wendy, my very good San Francisco gal pals, descended on Denver. And dear DOD readers, Alastair felt the need to impress this longtime couple that enjoys the finer things in life. The result, to be relayed here over a series of posts, was an impressive ride across Menver.

The Lobby at the Four Seasons Hotel Denver

The evening of Walt and Wendy’s arrival, my Oklahoma gal pal and I decided to rendezvous with the pair at EDGE Bar, located in the new Four Seasons Hotel on 14th Street at Arapahoe. Walt conveniently secured a great deal on a room thanks to Hotels.com, foregoing the less than sexy Hyatt Regency Denver. For my Oklahoma gal pal, this would be her only chance to meet the much talked about pair and, honestly, we’ve been very interested in scoping out the interiors of this new, high-style hotel. We were rather impressed by the warm and inviting spaces of both the bar and adjacent EDGE Restaurant. I can see EDGE Bar becoming one of the see-and-be-seen watering holes in downtown Denver… Just one request, PLEASE turn down that loud, pumping club music playing just outside of the entrance.

After a few cocktails (and fancy bar snacks to whet our appetites) we decided it was time for dinner. The original plan to head over to Osteria Marco was derailed since it was well after 10:00 p.m. So, instead, we happily strolled down 14th to Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen which serves food until midnight, Monday through Thursday. The four of us gave the extensive beer list and meat-laden menu a workout. .. and our server, who was very knowledgeable about the many, many beer choices, kindly offered us a number of tastings. We kicked things off with the Fried Cheddar Curds and a Pickle Sampler. The perfect start for our Upper Midwestern born and bred guests. Walt had the Stranahan Charred and Glazed Boneless Duroc Pork Chop with grilled cabbage that he quite enjoyed. Wendy gave the Chicken and Sourdough Waffles a try. While not profoundly pleased with his choice, Wendy did decide to stop by for a late lunch the next day that he very much enjoyed. I had the Fish N Chips. Beer battered cod, chips (literally chips, not fries), and a nice lemon tarragon aioli. Most notably, we all agreed that our Oklahoma gal pal’s choice, the Kobe Beef Kielbasa, was the hit of the night. Paired with a great Apple Cabbage Caraway Slaw, she made the best selections of night.

After dinner, we dropped the boys off, but not before we grabbed ourselves a sneak peek of the room. My Oklahoma gal pal (who knows her interiors) and I were most impressed by the bathroom. A LCD television is built into the vanity mirror, glass wash basins are underlit for a night-light glow, and the deep soaking tub was notable.

Walt and Wendy's Bathroom

It was just the beginning of a whirlwind weekend. More soon.

A Deluxe Night on the Town

Posted in bars, denver, fashion, food, gays, wine by Blake on September 18, 2010

Sketch Wine Bar

Last night Alastair and I met up with our gal pals Christine and Justine for drinks and dinner and then far too many drinks, as it turned out.  We rendezvoused (can I use the word that way?) at our fave, Sketch Wine Bar, at Broadway and 1st. There we enjoyed a few glasses of albariño and pinot grigio (we do like our dry whites) as we contemplated our dinner options. We had not made a reservation but we also weren’t ready to eat till around 9:00 and in Denver that is the equivalent of midnight in other cities, so our odds were good.  We decided to try the nearby Deluxe; I was slightly worried that it might be too crowded (it’s not a big space, after all) but all worry was for naught.  At that hour the place was nearly empty, mostly filled with fellow homosexuals, though of the female persuasion.  Seriously, it was lesbian date night at Deluxe.

We ordered a couple appetizers to begin: the monsoon dumplings (filled with chicken and ginger) and the halibut ceviche.  Both were quite tasty.  We also had a nice bottle of California cabernet (OK, we had two; there were four of us).  Justine and Alastair both opted for beef for their main course: the NY strip for Alastair and the T-bone special for Justine.  Though both found their meat tasty, neither felt it was properly cooked to order.  Alastair had ordered medium because he wanted rare but feared that it would be too rare.  It arrived rare, so he got what he wanted but he had to be devious in order to do so.  Justine requested his steak “bloody” and it, too, arrived rare.  Maybe Alastair needn’t have worried after all; perhaps all meat is cooked rare at Deluxe?  Christine and I, so tempted were we by all options on the menu, decided to split two of them.  We ordered the Deluxe paella, one of their specialties, which I had had before.  And the chicken Bolognese, made with wide flat noodles.  Both were great.  I am very picky about paella, in large part because there are just so many ways to do it wrong.  It can easily be too granular (the rice should be quite sticky and almost glumpy) or it can be too saucy (paella is not gumbo).  The seasoning can be off or the seafood portions can be stingy.  But Deluxe’s paella suffers from none of these afflictions.  It is true that they are a wee bit generous with the peas (and really who cares about peas in a paella?).  Christine also found it a bit salty for his taste, but it seemed great to me.  Granted, I could also bathe in a salt lick and be happy; in fact, I ended up salting my portion (as Christine looked on, horrified).  The pasta was also very nice: well cooked with tangy tomato sauce and fresh ricotta and parsley.

The Bar at Deluxe

Two complaints about Deluxe: the décor needs some help.  The leopard carpet is looking tired and the big mirrors and letters commanding one to EAT over the bar are starting to seem a little dated.  Particularly when the place isn’t full it all just seems a little bit sad.  This is nothing that can’t be fixed pretty easily, but fixed it should be.  The waitstaff also seemed, it must be said, intoxicated.  There was more confusion than was warranted by the small number of people present.  And our waiter also committed what I consider to be one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Serving: he cleared plates before everyone was finished eating.  Justine was still working away at his not-bloody-enough T-bone and he was doing it at a table devoid of all other plates.  This is the sort of thing that can make a diner self-conscious.  All plates should remain until all diners have finished. It’s as simple as that.

After dinner we headed to the nearby and tacky-as-ever Boyztown.  And who should we see, but Mondo!  Of course he must just have come from Fashion Week in New York and must also know who won this season of Project Runway.  It might even be him! We left Mr. Guerra alone to enjoy the evening with his friends and proceeded to order far too many cocktails (your DOD boys were in pain this morning).  Alastair also got rather friendly with one of the dancing boyz.  Maybe Alastair will start demanding that we go to Boyztown more often to see his newfound friend.  Maybe this will be like a gay version of Pretty Woman!  (I get to be the sassy Kit DeLuca.)

After Boyztown, somehow we convinced ourselves that we still weren’t done and headed back to the ‘hood for a nightcap AND a second meal at the absurdly spelled Barricuda’s.  Yes, with an i.  Apparently Barricuda’s is open till 4 AM but their 2 AM last call — get this — is not a last call to order alcohol, but instead to consume it.  Anything not imbibed by 2 is actually confiscated.  I have never experienced such a thing.  What is the reasoning behind this?  Can anyone explain?

Modernism and Beyond

Posted in architecture, bars, denver, design, entertainment, food, gays, parties by Alastair on August 28, 2010

Friday evening was quite the experience for your DOD boys. They did indeed go to the Denver Modernism Show, but they did so much else last night as well.

Free drinks, entertainment, and special guests were the rule of thumb at the Denver Modernism Show Early VIP Gala… and they use the term gala very loosely. Black Tie it was not. Blake and I had the pleasure of being some of the first to shop the show, alongside our fellow modernism enthusiasts: Mr. and Ms. B, and the fashionable, Ginger Snap. We were kindly greeted, on multiple occasions, by Charles Phoenix, the self-proclaimed “King of Retro.” Our VIP tickets got us two free cocktails: Your choice of Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian, or some other rum cocktail at the fabulously decorated Tiki Bar. Blake don’t care for rum, but I’ll drink just about anything, especially if it comes free with admission and an umbrella. We were also treated to live music, heavily tattooed hula girls, and some unmemorable entertainment. Yours truly fell in love with some serious chartreuse colored champagne/sherbet cocktail glasses (see below) by the versatile Russel Wright, designed to complement his recently reissued American Modern dinnerware. At twenty dollars a piece, I had to painfully pass, but they would have been a spectacular addition to a mid-century modern themed New Year’s Eve party.

Keeping in line with the mid-century theme, Ms. B suggested dinner and drinks at Bastien’s Restaurant and Steakhouse, located on East Colfax Avenue, near the Bluebird Theater. Blake has visited Bastien’s before, but this was Alastair’s first visit. Let’s say my expectations were not high, but I was tremendously pleased with my entire experience.

Bastien’s is an old school steakhouse and bar with an interesting architectural design. Started by William Bastien in 1937 when he bought out the Moon Drive Inn, the present twelve-sided building was constructed in 1958 and has a sort of subtle Googie flair—an exaggerated modern architectural style seen in the coffee shops, bowling alleys, and motels of the 1950s and 1960s. After a drink at the bar lounge, Blake and I, alongside Mr. and Ms. B and Ginger Snap sat down for a wonderful dining experience. Now, Bastien’s is not inexpensive, but compared to the prices we pay at Potager, this was a bargain and we were well fed! We all started with salads. I had the Caesar, while everyone else had the Ice Berg wedge with Blue cheese dressing and bacon crumbles. My salad came with grilled romaine, a very nice touch, and plenty of shaved parmesan cheese and croutons, along with a tasty balsamic reduction and a DOD favorite, anchovies! Ms. B received something that looked more like half a head of lettuce, rather than a wedge. But who’s complaining!

Moving onto dinner, Blake ordered LaLa’s Steak, a ten ounce New York steak grilled with fresh lime and cracked pepper, served with fresh peppers and pico de gallo. Mr. and Ms. B went with a German theme. Mr. B enjoyed his Beef Liver sautéed with onions, “just like mom made,” and seasoned mashed potatoes. Ms. B seemed very pleased with her wiener schnitzel. Ginger had the pork chop special and I chose the ten ounce New York with Deep Fried Shrimp. It came with a reasonably sized baked potato with sour cream, butter, cheese, and chives, and the steak was perfectly cooked to a true medium rare. Delicious! We ended our meal with some apple pie sizzling skillet dessert with vanilla ice cream. The perfect ending to a perfect meal.

After going our separate ways, Blake and I enjoyed a brisk walk down Colfax to grab ourselves a night-cap at HER BAR located at Colfax and Washington. According to the website Fridays at HER BAR are FemmeBar with DJ Love, who seemed to be spinning an eclectic mix of 80s new wave and current hits by Usher, Gaga, and others. We grabbed ourselves a seat at the bar and a drink. Blake was intrigued by reruns of The Nanny projected onto an interior wall. Is Fran Drescher a lesbian?  Is there some lesbian connection that we DOD boys are unaware of? Clearly, the Nanny was a gay icon… I mean look at those highlight clips on YouTube. Just saying.

In any case, the DOD boys seemed to be a magnet for the more interesting ladies enjoying themselves last night. My friend, whose name I did not catch, was clearly a fan of the drink. Tired of waiting for a refill and patience running thin, she decided to continually stand then sit until finally waving her hands in the air as though she was directing a 747 from its final approach to the gate. Blake’s lady friend, Nila, was much cuter than mine… but perhaps just as drunk. I don’t know much about Nila, but the girl liked to dance… and apparently found the two of us very interesting. We later met her gal pal Fay, who had no idea “what was going on.” As the night went on, Nila became even more friendly. I think she may have slightly molested Blake as Fay and I chatted offline. I hope that Nila understood that she wasn’t going to get very far. In any case, we found HER (or HER, or HER, or HER) BAR lots of fun and an amusing way to end the evening. We’ll be back Nila, don’t you worry your pretty little big pocket shorts! And the DOD boys will have their dancing shoes with them next time!

El Diablo

Posted in bars, denver, food, music, wine by Blake on August 22, 2010

Your DOD boys did indeed go to the newly opened El Diablo last night, but they did so much else last night as well.  Read on…

Alastair was an early convert to Denver B-Cycle.  It took me longer, largely because I don’t mind walking everywhere.  But I just joined, and last night was to be my very first night using a B-Cycle.  I signed up Friday online and was told that while my membership card would not arrive for a little while (understandably) I could use the credit card that I’d registered with in order to take out a bike. It was not to be.  I inserted said card at the B-Cycle station at Boulder and 16th in the Highlands: not recognized, no membership.  As I waited on hold with B-Cycle headquarters I walked over the Highland Bridge to the station at 16th and Platte.  The nice gentleman on the other end of the phone told me there was a glitch in the system and that it wasn’t fixable right now.  However, I could sign up for a $5 one-day membership that he would reimburse to my credit card.  Done. Except that when I tried to take out a bike the system froze.  No luck.  Alastair advised me there was a station across the park at 16th and Little Raven.  There I finally met with success.  I sailed off down the Cherry Creek Trail (on the pedestrian side; I’m still getting acquainted with bicycling etiquette) to meet Alastair at Sketch Wine Bar for a glass of vinho verde, served up by the ever-friendly J.D.

Update: Denver B-Cycle called me on Monday and has straightened out the entire problem with the credit card.  Seems like they run a pretty tight ship!

Red Lights over the bar at El Diablo

Alastair had arrived at El Diablo before me and put our names on the waiting list before heading over to Sketch (located next door and also run by Jesse Morreale, who brought us Tambien, Mezcal, and La Rumba).  Midway through our second glass of wine at Sketch, we were approached by one of the hosts at El Diablo: had we put our names on the list?  Indeed we had.  Now that’s service! While the host and hostess were indeed very accommodating, the table service left a little to be desired.  Granted, it was their second night in action, but we waited a long time to have our order taken, and even longer to have it actually appear. While some of the waitstaff seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, ours was often nowhere to be found or rushed by our table without looking at us.  The food and drinks were tasty, though nothing remarkably special.  We started with chips y tres salsas and two very tall glasses of sangria.  The salsas were good, if a little runny, and the sangria — perhaps because so plentiful — was pretty watery and devoid of much fruit flavor. (The pricier sangria made with more fruit was unavailable last night.)  Our tacos — one order of carne asada y papas and one order of carnitas with salsa — were very tasty, though the tortillas had become hardened and brittle. And our very small sides of rice and beans — at $4.95 each — were overpriced and underwhelming.  It was opening weekend so Alastair and I agreed we’d give it another chance. The place is packed and the atmosphere is fun.  It’s dark and the tacky red lights worked well with the bad plasticized tabletops.  It reminded both of us of a place in the Mission in San Francisco called Velvet Cantina: hipster Mexican.

And we were off!  A night of karaoke awaited us at Armida’s, site of a wild night in early May that I documented here. This was actually our gal pal’s Whitney’s birthday party and she once again delivered some stellar performances, even joining Alastair for a rendition of Estelle and Kanye’s “American Boy.” Alastair took Estelle’s part, natch.  And they were not the only enthusiastic singers.  A gang of six thirty-something straight guys got up to deliver a somewhat too rousing rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory.” One couldn’t help but wonder if they were mourning their own youth, gone in the aforementioned blaze. And there was even a lady fight!  Involving actual punches. One very drunken young woman (part of an entourage of mid-20s women in strappy dresses and large engagement rings; is this Denver?) took a swing at another young woman who had spent most of her awful rendition of Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” trying to show off her quads to the audience. Oh my. It was not pretty.

Stay tuned for Alastair’s report on our delicious (and boozy) Sunday brunch at Root Down…

East Coat Adventures

Posted in bars, food, gays, outdoors, scene, travel, weather by Blake on August 3, 2010

While Alastair was soaking up the sun in Palm Springs – are you staying at a clothing-optional resort, Alastair? Enquiring minds want to know – I was having an East Coast adventure.  It all began with a work trip last weekend to Rochester, New York; continued with four days at a friend’s cabin in the Adirondacks; then a night in New York City.  I then joined some of my best gal pals from college for a road trip to West Virginia. For a gay wedding.  I kid you not.  Then back to New York, and finally back home.  Some observations about my ten days on the road:

Pandora Boxx

Gay bars in Rochester are fun!  Not only did we see Pandora Boxx, one-time star of RuPaul’s Drag Race perform live at the Tilt Nightclub and Ultralounge (more than a lounge, an ultra lounge), but we also hung out at Rochester’s Leather and Levi Bar, Bachelor Forum (a little lite on the leather and levi, it must be said, not that I’m complaining; they also have what can only be described as a gay sculpture garden out front), and the most fun was had at 140 Alex: karaoke, drag shows, great music, strong drinks.  Best of all, it was as mixed as can be: people of all shades and hues, ladies and gents, butch and femme, even straight people!  This is what seems to happen in small towns: less queer self-segregation.  DOD approves.

The Garbage Plate at Nick Tahou's in Rochester

Rochester is known for something called the “garbage plate”: macaroni, beans, red hots (apparently some sort of spicy miniature hot dog), beef, and a variety of other delicious elements.  Health.com has named the garbage plate the fattiest food in New York State.  Needless to say, I did not partake, though I did have sushi. In Rochester. At a restaurant that “specialized” in the food of at least 5 Asian nations.  And it wasn’t half bad.  The rust belt surprises every once in a while.

The Adirondacks are lovely in July.  Highs in the low 80s and overnights in the 60s.  My gal pals and I swam, we boated, we ran, we ate ice cream at a stand called Northern Lights in a quaint lakeside town sitting on a bench.  One of us (not me) prepared a delicious bourbon marinated (though he said marinaaaded) pork loin on the barbecue.  We even hiked.  In short, it was rather all-American.  And that was not actually unpleasant.

I love New York City.  Sometimes I miss it like I might miss an absent limb.  I used to feel like my life continued on there even while I was physically in Denver.  I am pretty much convinced that it is the center of the universe.  That said, it is a foul disgusting humid pit of a city at the height of the summer.  The nights were actually reasonable but during the day I was a sweaty mess and found myself missing the very dry heat of Denver, which doesn’t leave a boy feeling quite so unkempt.  That said, I must have lost about three and a half pounds in water weight just walking around in one afternoon.

The Hillbrook Inn near Charles Town, WV

West Virginia is beautiful!  I was a wee bit scared that four gay boys on a road trip to WV might well have difficulty making it out of the state alive, and while we definitely got a couple strange looks at a rest stop, we also had a fantastic time.  We were staying at the Hillbrook Inn, a beautiful 1920s Tudor mansion converted to a bed and breakfast and the site was idyllic.  Manicured lawns, patios and porches, and a stream running through the property all made it the ideal spot to lounge around with good friends for a weekend.  They even provide quilts for that very lounging on the lawns. The wedding party had the whole place to itself and it turns out that the grooms’ other friends were lots of fun as well.  We also ate well and drank ourselves silly.  In short, it was all a wedding weekend should be, and this is coming from someone who objects to marriage.

Now, alas, back to work…

Denver’s Love of Plastic

Posted in bars, denver, food by Blake on July 8, 2010

You may be wondering what has become of your DOD boys.  Well, in between recovering from Gay Pride in SF, celebrating American Independence (Happy Belated 4th of July!), and Alastair coming down with a nasty case of strep throat, we have been all kinds of busy.  So while I do not have any restaurant reviews (Alastair was really not fit for public), I can share with you my musings on Denver’s love affair with the credit card.

When I first moved to Denver a few years ago I noticed that people here used credit and debit cards much more often than I was used to.  People paid for just about everything with them and some people I knew rarely seemed to visit an ATM, only occasionally getting cash back at the grocery store. It seems to me that there are pluses and minuses to this reliance upon plastic (leaving aside the issue of debt and credit, a whole other story).

On one hand I appreciate the willingness of Denver restaurants to split a check three or four ways.  Alastair and I were at a birthday dinner last year at a local DOD fave and the waiter split the check 16 ways without blinking; I kid you not. It makes life easier not having to calculate everything or carry around a ton of cash.

On the other hand, I find it seriously irritating when people never have cash.  Ever.  And when they insist on paying for very small purchases with a card.  Have you ever been in line at JR’s when someone paid for one cocktail with a credit card?  And there is a line?  And JRs still has a completely antiquated credit card machine?  ‘Cause I have.  And it’s annoying.  A drink, especially at JRs, costs about 5 bucks (sometimes much less).  This is precisely the scenario in which those green pieces of paper come in very handy, not just for you but for everyone behind you in line as well.

There are still cities in this venerable country of ours where some restaurants and stores do not accept credit cards.  In Denver I feel certain that such an establishment would go out of business. But I kind of admire their unwillingness to bend on this issue. They prominently display “Cash Only” on the menus and on signs on the door to prepare you, and they are more than willing to direct you to the nearest ATM, but they will not be accepting your plastic.  Bully for them, I say.  Keep up the good fight!