Thursday, January 28, 2010

Omphalos No More

On a semi-regular basis we are slapped out of our self-satisfied reverie; and it is a good thing that we are. The constant navel gazing that we subject ourselves to when it comes to the Denver restaurant scene is SO unhealthy. Like the small-town prom queen that fools herself into thinking that she really is the top; we in the Queen City of the Plains often make believe we have a "world-class" restaurant city.

We don't.

When Gourmet magazine was still around, every year we awaited to see if we would get our own region listing in the Restaurant Edition, sad. Go to Chowhound and we are in the Southwest region, Southwest sub-region (Austin, TX event has it's own board!) Now we look each year to Gayot's annual restaurant edition thinking that surely we MUST be in there somewhere. Are you disappointed that ONLY one restaurant (Frasca) made the to 40 list? Are you upset that D Bar was listed as one of "10 Best Cheap Eats" for THE MIDWEST?! Yeah, I know it hurts.

But first, we should congratulate these restaurants, they deserve it. Second, we should appreciate that we are a very small part of a wider-world. The coasts usually get most of the attention; and deservedly so. A recent trip to New York reminded me of what a truly "world-class" dinning city is. Dinner at Michael Mina at the St. Francis (a top 40 winner) in San Francisco not long ago, also reminded me of what an impeccable dinning experience should be like. The progressive use of an abundance of natural resources in the Northwest is almost unattainable up here. A superior food culture DOES benefit from critical mass and access to ingredients. We aren't there yet.

We are improving, we are growing up. The national food media does love the Denver region; a plethora of articles by respected publications shows this. From Aspen and Boulder, down into Denver, food writers are eager to figure us out. There are many good things here; and if we keep looking to expand our horizons we will make it. Now more then ever, chefs our drawing on global tastes and techniques. As diners we must support their efforts and push them hard to give us the best. Overpriced-mediocrity does not survive in New York, it should have no place here either.

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