Down and Out in Denver

Satchel’s on 6th

Posted in denver, food by Alastair on April 30, 2011

The asparagus salad from Satchel's on 6th

On a recent Thursday evening, Blake and I stopped by the newly opened Satchel’s on 6th. Thrilled to have another eating establishment opening within walking distance of home, we headed over to 6th and Gilpin. Satchel’s, which seats about 50, is outfitted with handsome tables constructed from beetle-kill pine, surprisingly comfortable metal red chairs, charming red brick walls, and a bar uniquely placed in the center of the space. The tight menu of about a dozen offerings features American comfort food… with a twist. After ordering our wine, Blake began his meal with Satchel’s take on the classic wedge… Blake likes his wedge. Nice big pieces of bacon, cherry tomato, some pickled onion, Roquefort, and a yoghurt dressing. I had a pretty amazing salad of asparagus, with shavings of country-style ham, a perfectly poached egg, and what appeared to be house made ricotta. Delish!

Satchel’s take on the wedge

Now, mind you, Satchel’s may have only  been open for a few days. And we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. More to come. Generally speaking, the service provided by the staff was attentive and informative; however, our server was perhaps a little less prepared    than one might like when making a first impression. She didn’t appear to be very knowledgable about many of the items on the menu we had asked about. Additionally, she basically alluded to not trying some items on the menu. This is a must in my experience! Especially for such a pared down menu. Back to the food!

Cured Artic Char

For his main course, Blake was brought the Cured Arctic Char. Mind you, he ordered the herbed Sole Gratinee. The mistake, which was quickly corrected, was to our advantage. We got to sample another dish and on the house! Who can complain!? When the Sole did arrive, Blake was very pleased. Melted leeks, Dijon, and baby potatoes gratinee of herbed sole. I think the melted leeks were the big hit of this dish. Perhaps most notable was that the Sole was a much bigger portion than the Char. Significantly so. It would have been considered a starter by some… and certainly was by Blake.

Sole Gratinee

While he enjoyed the Char, which was served with a cucumber salad that would have made my mother proud, I dug into my Short Rib Meatloaf. I’m a fan of short ribs. I’ve had them numerous times at Potager, tried them at P17, and I was really intrigued as to how one would make meatloaf out of it. A small log of tender beef was served with pot au feu vegetables and a smokey ketchup. I could not have been more pleased with my choice.

Short Rib Meatloaf

Blake and I are looking forward to stopping by again. I know I’m going to be asking my neighborhood gal pals to join me for Satchel’s “punch brunch” on one of those warm Saturday or Sundays, when bowls of liquid punch will be served!

Happy Birthday B-cycle!

Posted in denver by Blake on April 21, 2011

We here at DOD would like to wish our pals at Denver B-cycle a very happy first birthday.  Tomorrow, Earth Day, will mark their one-year anniversary.  B-cycle is throwing a little party for itself (RSVP here) at the Museum of Contemporary Art from 7pm to 10pm tomorrow night: New Belgium beer, food trucks (including Fat Sully’s!), b-cycle races, and music by local DJs.  Bicycle parking is, of course, available.

Happy Birthday B-cycle!

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!

The Cherry Cricket

Posted in denver, food by Blake on March 29, 2011

Look at the Size of that Diet Coke!

Alastair and I have lived in Colorado for a combined total of almost eight years now. And we’ve never been to the Cherry Cricket, that staple of Denver dining out in Cherry Creek.  Well, last week we were out shopping in preparation for Alastair’s upcoming very first cocktail party in his Denver apartment (which, by the way, was a blast) and we were in Cherry Creek to go to the Crate and Barrel and the Whole Foods (just for the seafood; otherwise we’re King Soopers boys).  So we decided to give it a whirl.

Caesar Salad with Chicken and a LOT of dressing

I have to say that I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.  The ambiance is more than questionable, kind of loud and crowded and cramped.  And the food was fine, but hardly exceptional.  What is it that makes the Cherry Cricket so desirable?  Is it that it remains a pretty traditional diner in the midst of all that overpriced fanciness that is Cherry Creek (we support that!)?  Or do people find the food better than we did?  Alastair had a burger and he liked it just fine, but wasn’t blown away.  I foolishly had — brace yourselves — a caesar salad (no anchovies, natch).  I’m on a wee bit of a diet and I’m pretty sure this didn’t really comply, because it was drenched in dressing.  We also split an order of fries (see below) and those were quite tasty, coated with some sort of flavorful seasoning. Perhaps my favorite part of the Cricket experience was my never-ending and thoroughly gigantic Diet Coke (see above; it dwarfs Alastair’s pint of beer).

Flavorful Fries

Let me say that I love a good diner as much as the next person and I definitely don’t believe that all restaurants need to be super fancy, but even as diners go, this one just didn’t stand out all that much to me.  I’ve been to Pete’s Kitchen and its neighbor Mama’s, both on Colfax, and preferred both of them.  So, what’s with all the love for the Cherry Cricket, Denverites?

Go Ride A B-cycle

Posted in denver by Alastair on March 14, 2011

The bikes are back!

Today is Denver B-cycle’s  first day back on the streets. It’s a good day.

I rode B-cycle into work this morning and considering my slow start, thanks to the pesky time change, the ride got my blood pumping. Who knew that getting out of bed while it was still dark out would be such a problem?

Good new is that Denver B-cycle has been updating the system and overhauling their bikes over the winter. My ride this morning could not have been any smoother. I was a little worried my membership card would not work after the months off, but I had no trouble! I should mention that B-cycle is offering $49 annual memberships until April 22nd. There’s no better time to buy a new membership or renew your old one. Additionally, for every ride you take you will be entered to win one of five annual memberships they will be giving away today.

H&M

Posted in denver, fashion by Alastair on March 11, 2011

Coming to a Denver?

Ever since Saks Fifth Avenue announced it was closing its Cherry Creek location, Denver fashionistas have been guessing what might take its place. I recently heard rumors at an Oscar Party that H&M, the popular Swedish retailer, was looking into the soon-to-be vacancy. I was hesitant to say anything, but it appears prospects are looking even better. The Denver Post’s Penny Parker reported yesterday that the fast-fashion chain — whose full name is Hennes & Mauritz — hasn’t revealed where the store (or stores) will be located, but both Cherry Creek and Park Meadows malls have been contacted.

In an April 2010 Denver Business Journal online reader survey, H&M was No. 3 on the list of national chains that readers would most like to see come to Colorado, after Trader Joe’s and In-N-Out Burger, two West Coast establishments I would actually love to see stake a claim in Colorado.

Down and Out

Posted in denver, gays by Blake on March 10, 2011

When Alastair and I started this blog a year and four months ago, it was because we disliked Denver and we wanted to have a forum to vent about it.  As you may recall, we did a lot of venting in the beginning: about outdoor sports, and gays, and gays’ clothing, and bars, and drivers, and the lack of a real downtown.  I could go on.  In the past year, however, we seem to have moved more into the realm of reporting on our adventures here in D-Town.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  I warn you right now, however; I’m about to take us right back to our origins.  The reason I’ve been so silent of late is because writing on this blog just serves to remind me that I do live in Denver, and that’s something I’ve been trying to forget. ‘Cause I really don’t like it here.  Lately I have not only been out, I have also been out of state.  I just checked: of the past 14 weekends (that is, the months of December, January, February and the beginning of March), I have spent a grand total of 4 of them here in Denver.  United and Frontier love me.  Where have I been?  Does it even matter?  So long as it hasn’t been the Centennial State, I almost haven’t cared.  I have decided that in order to get back to blogging, I must first get back to the reason that I blogged in the first place: my disdain for this state. So bear with me as I update you on my current malaise.

This blog was at least in part supposed to be Alastair’s and my attempt to make ourselves happier here.  We envisioned some sort of community forming around our mutual distaste for all things Mile High.  That is, admittedly, a ridiculous goal in some  ways, but we still thought we might make some new friends with whom to bitch about Denver.  While we have certainly made friends since November of 2009, we have officially met zero people directly through this blog. Alastair did meet Mondo Guerra (!!!), but not through the blog, and we’ve never actually gotten together with the ladies of the Denver Omelette (who have a new member!), despite many promises on both sides that we will.  Over the almost five years that I have lived here, I have done my utmost to like this state.  I joined a book club. I joined a gym.  I volunteered.  I went to museums and art galleries and parks.  I visited parts of the state that I’d never been to before.  As you know, Alastair and I have also drunk and dined at many a fine watering hole and restaurant (and restaurants remain the one thing about Colorado about which I will generally not complain).

But, dear reader, I still don’t like it here.  When asked what I think about Denver or the state more generally by people I meet in other places, I generally say: “It’s pretty and affordable, and it’s great if you like outdoor activities, though I don’t.”  That is about as much enthusiasm as I can muster. Because I then also say: “It’s Midwestern and provincial and conventional and it’s only pretty if you look at the mountains and it’s small and Denver is a city utterly without edge.” Let me be clear: as horrible as I am I do realize that Denver is great for some people.  I am just not among them.  I lived for ten years in a city whose population is double the size of the entire state of Colorado.  This was my own fault.  I should have approached my adult life by working my way up from small to mid-sized to truly metropolitan.  But I didn’t.  And it has ruined me for anything that does not feel distinctly urban.  And Denver just doesn’t cut it.  This “city” has no rail system that takes you anywhere but suburbs.  It is not very walkable.  It has little life not for tourists in its downtown. It is populated by people who seem fully satisfied by getting in their cars and driving to strip malls to do their shopping.  That is, when they’re not leaving the “city” to go skiing or snowboarding or hiking or rafting or some other snow-air-waterborne activity. And that, to this jaded coastal urbanite, is just not really a city.  If Chicago is forever relegated to “Second City” status, I don’t even want to venture a guess as to how far down that numerical ranking Denver might be.  And the thing is this: no amount of defending or “we have X number of parks or restaurants or buses” can possibly redeem it. Because desirable places don’t constantly have to defend themselves, precisely because everyone knows how wonderful they are.

All of this begs the obvious question: if you hate it here so much, why on earth don’t you leave?  Dear reader, I have tried. I work in a field that required far too much education and that is specialized enough that one cannot simply move to a new place and expect to find employment in that field.  So does Alastair.  That’s why we’re here and why we stay here.  I am surprised by how many people there are who work in these sorts of fields, and how different the fields are from one another.  Alastair and I do not, for instance, do anything similar in our work, but both of us in our own ways have found ourselves here and unable to leave if we want to continue to practice what we’re trained to do.  If we want, in essence, to continue to be ourselves.

Another reason for my current bitterness — which I recently described to a friend as a “seething cauldron of resentment”; fun, huh? — is that I was recently a finalist for a job that I can only describe as The Job To End All Jobs (TJTEAJ, henceforth).  Not only was it a fantastic position, it was also in the Bay Area, where, you might recall, my Gentleman Friend resides.  At each step of the process of applying and interviewing for TJTEAJ I did not believe that I could possibly make it to the next round, so good was this job, and each time I did.  Until, dear reader, that final time.  I did not get the job.  And I am heartbroken.  (If there is anyone reading this right now who is thinking, let alone saying, to him or herself, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” I swear to you right now that I will track you down and throttle you with my bare hands.  By whom was it not meant to be?  Seriously?  Who figured out that I was not meant to get this job, aside from the people doing the hiring, who basically just preferred the qualifications of someone else?  ‘Cause if there was any sort of “meant to be justice” in this world, that job was clearly labeled “Blake.”)

All of the buildup to the possibility of TJTEAJ just meant that I spent an inordinate amount of time fantasizing about what my life would be like in San Francisco and how wonderful it would be.  You can imagine how Denver is now faring in comparison to all that kind of thought.  Not well.  I’m not at all sure that telling you all this has done anything to convince me that I’m going to be any happier here, but I will say that it’s allowed me to feel like I can return to contributing to our little blog, thus relieving Alastair of all the responsibility.  Besides, I’ve got a restaurant to review, and a PBS series that is my new best friend, and an HGTV program that delights me, and an installment of Blake’s Book Nook that’s been percolating for months now.  And how could I not share all of that with you, dear reader?

Table 6 Birthday!

Posted in denver, food, gays, wine by Blake on February 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Alastair! xoxox Table Six

After a truly delightful evening at Design After Dark — with all kinds of our gal pals in tow — many of us reassembled, albeit after a full day of recovery, at Table 6 to belatedly celebrate Alastair’s Milestone Birthday in Denver (previous celebrations were in San Francisco, as loyal readers will recall).  We had a big table and we had a lot of food, all ably described and served by our lovely server, LeeLynn.

So, on to the nitty gritty.  Gal Pal Gareth ordered wine for the table, and I admit I didn’t pay all that much attention.  So long as it kept coming, I was delighted.  It was red, and while we depleted them of their supply of the first selection, LeeLynn helped us choose another to succeed it.  Starters all around: I split the charcuterie platter with visiting gal pal Wendy (and designer of DOD’s website!): shrimp sausage, tasso, lamb bacon, and a variety of cornichons, nuts, grilled bread, and mustard.  It was all very tasty — particularly the shrimp sausage; who would have thought?  The lamb bacon was a little too crisp and salty for me (this is a sentence I utter about once a decade, so addicted to NaCl am I) but Wendy loved it.  Alastair split a cheese plate with his end of the table and other faves included the Little Phillies (mini Philly cheesesteak sandwiches) and homemade tater tots served with bacon, frisee, and a 150 degree egg.  Here’s the thing about Table Six: the appetizers are not only good, they are plentiful.  And this caused something of a problem for the consumption of the main course.

Ahi Tuna Casserole

The main course choices were varied.  I had a Camembert chicken roll stuffed with mushrooms and served with wilted chard and hedgehog mushrooms (I think).  It was one of the more reasonably sized portions of the evening and thus I had no difficulty finishing it.  Another popular choice was the Ahi Tuna Casserole (pictured above): basically a fancified version of a tuna casserole.  The only difficulty with this was that the taste of the ahi tuna seemed to be drowned out by all its casserole accessories.  And who wants that to happen to ahi tuna?  The steak — served with generously cut fries — was also popular, as was the shrimp risotto (pictured below): served with melted leeks, onion rings, and arugula.  The real difficulty with the risotto was that it was unbelievably rich and if you’ve already consumed three Little Phillies, the odds of finishing such a risotto are slim to none.  It was also a very saucy risotto, not the congealed mess that is the traditional risotto of the Veneto.  This is not my preference but I’m willing to allow for variation in taste on the issue.

Shrimp Risotto

By the time the main course was over, one would think we would all have been too full for dessert.  One would be correct.  But Table Six sent over a whole dessert platter!  And LeeLynn arrived to give a toast to the power and importance of birthdays. It was quite sweet. The birthday platter, which, despite our protestations, we seemed to work through pretty quickly, was composed of chocolate sauce-filled beignets nestled in a pomegranate sauce, a fruit tart with some sort of whipped topping, basmati rice pudding, and a sweet potato bread pudding with ice cream.  (I may be sketchy on some of the details because we’d had a fair bit of wine at that point, and the most recent menu is not posted on their website.)

Dessert Platter

The whole gang (sans moi; I was exhausted!)  headed off to BoyzTown in hopes of encountering their favorite dancer, Tyler.  (“Give it up, give it up, give it up for sexy boy, Tyler!”)  The snow was starting to come down in earnest as I walked my way home…

Happy Birthday (again) Alastair!  And thanks to Table Six for a fantastic dinner.

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!

Warhol In Colorado

Posted in art, denver, food, parties, wine by Alastair on January 21, 2011

Last night, Blake and I had the opportunity to help celebrate the opening of “Warhol In  Colorado,” an exhibition at the University of Denver. A little background: Beginning in 2007, the Andy Warhol Foundation dispersed more than 28,000 of the celebrated artist’s Polaroid portraits and other photographs to 183 university galleries across the United States. Among the three recipients in Colorado was the University of Denver, which has mounted an exhibition centered on the gift. “Warhol in Colorado” opened last night and runs through March 13 in DU’s Victoria H. Myhren Gallery.

John Bonath: Andy Warhol, Ft. Collins, CO, 1981.

Blake and I attended the VIP preview with other Warhol admirers, art afficonados, and dedicated partygoers of all ages. Before exploring the show, Blake and I immediately order drinks from the bar. I went for a scotch and soda, while Blake had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, which he was not so thrilled about… it was free. During the preview we snacked on some tasty hors d’œuvres, including lamb chops, Beef Wellington pockets (not to be confused with Hot Pockets, but more about that later), and mini crab cakes topped with shrimp.

The exhibition was fun, though the gallery left a lot to be desired. Let’s hope the funds raised from this event will go towards modernization of the Myhren. Setting aside, Warhol’s time in Colorado seemed like a good theme. And just as Warhol’s visits pulled the Colorado art community together three decades ago, the new exhibit,  draws from the University of Denver, the Denver Art Museum, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Arts.

Revel in the perfect fusion of art, fashion and design at the WARHOL HAPPENING, and let your inner hipster out!!!

Next, Blake and I jumped on the shuttle to the gala, or “Happening” over at the Cable Center– a building program I have not entirely figured out. There was video, music, photo booth opportunities, and specialty fare, all to be had. Thankfully, Blake and I found some familiar and new faces to pass the time, along with mini corn dogs, tater tots, paper cones filled with sweet potato fries, mac and cheese, and tomato bisque shooters with mini grilled cheese sandwiches.  Among those spotted in the crowd, philanthropist Laura Merage. Her husband, David Merage and his brother Paul founded Chef America, maker of Hot Pockets. Nestle paid $2.6 billion for Chef America in 2002. Blake was rather excited by this news… as he is a real big Hot Pocket lover.

A sign of what's to come?

Just as the night was coming to a close, and we were debating on whether to jump ship, chaos ensued! A rather frantic cater waiter collided with a party patron and a tray of tomato bisque shooters and grilled cheese sandwiches flew onto the floor… and onto Blake! The collision also caused Blake to dump his glass of Cab Sav down the sleeve of his fitted Theory shirt. The Ted Baker jacket was hit by the bisque, while his  Nudie jeans suffered a minor hit. Oh, it was terrible. I awoke this morning, thinking I had escaped unscathed, to find small amounts of bisque spread over my very own pants. Andy never wanted it this way!!!