16 Sep 2008, 12:29pm
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Night Out in Denver

I love visiting a place when it’s in the throes of a big happening.  It couldn’t have gotten much bigger recently in Denver during the Democratic National Convention.  The streets were buzzing with all kinds of people from all over the country, all over the world, in fact.  I had never seen so many fashionable looking people in the mile high city—the old cow town myth has certainly been put to rest!

After a short while though I was feeling rather alone in the crowd.  So I went and sought comfort at Tattered Cover, one of my all-time favorite bookstores and certainly one of the finest book emporiums in our country.  Their LoDo, or Lower Downtown, location pleases me the best; this worked out well since that’s the area where most of the Convention hoopla was taking place.

Fortunately just as I was beginning to tire from checking my e-mails from my cozy armchair at this most welcoming bookstore, I received a call from David Craig, General Manager of Hotel Teatro, Denver’s award-winning boutique hotel.  It was time for some distraction and I was more than willing to receive it from this charming man, certainly one of Denver’s most eligible bachelors.

The Capital Grille on Larimer

The Capital Grille on Larimer

We met at The Capital Grille, a popular address on Larimer Street (also known as Larimer Square at this level) that seemed to be a favorite among men in suits and high-heeled ladies.  We were fortunate to find a table within the especially busy bar area, so we slipped into the banquette (side by side, of course!) in order to take in every bit of this bustling scene as the crisp white linens were smoothed out before us.  I admired the rich mahogany paneling and original oil paintings that distinguish this handsome restaurant’s interior and was amazed when Dave informed me that there’s a Capital Grille in most gateway cities.  Really you had to look very hard to find anything cookie cutter about this place.

We feasted on perfectly chilled oysters, buttered pieces of sweet, dark bread and champagne (Suntini for Dave, which is a martini made with mandarin-flavored vodka and Grand Marnier, garnished with orange slices).  It was more than fun to catch up in such a manner.  We had met last November at his hotel and now it was refreshing to see each other in a less professional context.

Next stop:  across the street at Corridor 44.  “This is the best champagne bar in Denver,” Dave said.  “It’s really the only one.”

“What about Cru?” I asked.

“That’s really more for wine,” he informed me.

We both enjoyed Raspberry Truffle champagne cocktails, a delicious nectar made from raspberry vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur and champagne and then topped off with fresh raspberries.  Here, too, we were lucky to have found a couple of seats at the bar where we were perfectly positioned to take in another alluring décor, this time in a more elegant era genre reminiscent of the fifties.  White leather demi-lune booths, crystal chandeliers and black and white films that played on a large T.V. screen further enhanced the romantic feel of this dreamy enclave.  I was particularly taken with the quote above the bar which, not surprisingly, prompted me to remind Dave that it was indeed a French monk, Dom Perignon, who invented champagne.

Come quickly, I’m drinking stars.

—Dom Perignon

And by now, it seemed that that was very much how we both felt.

The party was only beginning, however, since the sky was just turning dark.  Dave whisked me off to Writer Square, a quaint grouping of shops and restaurants between Larimer and Lawrence Streets and 15th and 16th Streets.  Red Square Euro Bistro was the destination he clearly had in mind.  We marched passed the restaurant’s sprawling patio filled with stylish diners into the red-walled interior of this large establishment.  We hunkered down at the bar and began to chat with the warm and welcoming Steve Ryan, owner of Red Square.  I gulped down several glasses of water before sampling one of their many vodkas from all over the world.  Dave took a shot of the black pepper vodka, I sipped a delicious anise flavored one.  Somehow the garlic vodka seemed like a bad choice.

People around us dined on elegantly presented plates of rack of lamb and Stroganoff, but we didn’t seem to have much of an appetite.  We were having fun talking about all and nothing.  I continued to take a few notes nonetheless although even they were becoming increasingly undecipherable.  (In looking back at them, I discover one scribbled line that I’m not sure to whom it should be attributed, whether to Dave, me or someone entirely different.  It reads as follows:  “What I miss in discipline, I make up for in passion.”  Must have been me.)

Diners at Crêpes 'n Crêpes

Diners at Crêpes ‘n Crêpes

We bid goodbye to Steve and scooted across the way to Crêpes ‘n Crêpes.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect choice since by now we both needed to eat something in a no-frills setting.  We bellied up to the crêpe counter where we could sit and watch our crêpes being made.  I instantly chatted up the young Frenchman working his magic at the burners before us; I think he was relieved to speak French with a client for a change.  Dave and I agreed that sweet or savory, these were true masterpieces both in their making and in their final form.  He gobbled up a banana and cream wonder while I lingered over every morsel of a mushroom (both wild and domestic) and camembert crêpe.  It was perhaps the best crêpe I ever tasted.


Sweet Endings

Truly satiated, we left this pleasant eatery and the rest of LoDo with the feeling that Democratic Convention or not, Denver was definitely a fun place to hang out and as always, it’s best experienced à deux.


Tattered Cover, 1628 16th Street at Wynkoop, 303-436-1070, www.tatteredcover.com

Hotel Teatro, 1100 14th Street, 303-228-1100; www.hotelteatro.com

The Capital Grille, 1450 Larimer Street, 303-539-2500, www.thecapitalgrille.com

Corridor 44, 1433 Larimer Square, 303-893-0044, www.corridor44.com

Cru Wine Bar, 1442 Larimer Street, 303-893-9463, www.cruawinebar.com

Red Square Euro Bistro, 1512 Larimer St., Suite 38R, 303-595-8600, www.redsquarebistro.com

Crêpes ‘n Crêpes, 1512 Larimer Street, 303-534-1620 

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