Restaurant Digest Poke; Big Gay Ice Cream; new Snooze
I have spent way too much time thinking about cubed, marinated, raw fish lately. That poke has consumed more of my brain space than, say, what’s going on in the world around me or my children’s education is probably a cry for help, but we’ll just chalk it up to on-thejob research for the sake of politeness.
After all of my poke ruminatings, I keep coming back to the same thing — I just don’t think so, guys. I don’t think “Build it and they will come” is going to work for poke in the Mile High City.
Last winter I went to Hawaii, where I ate a good amount of poke. (Poke — pronounced “po-kay” — is a Hawaiian bowl of marinated, raw fish and, usually, rice.) At the time, there were a few places doing it in Denver, like LoHi’s Ohana Island Kitchen, Boulder’s Motomaki (coming soon to the 16th Street Mall), Uptown’s Poke 303 and DTC’s PokeCity (also planning more locations), but it wasn’t everywhere.
Since that trip just a few months back, at least six more poke outposts have either opened or are in the process of opening soon. There’s Denver Poke Company on Platte Street (apparently we now need a full-on poke “company”); Sushi Cup on Seventh Avenue; Turtle Boat on Broadway; Poke House on 17th Street; Portland-based QuickFish Poke Bar going into Avanti; and Chicago’s Aloha Poké Co. coming soon to Zeppelin Station. Oh, and there are also a slew of non-poke restaurants that now have poke on their menus, like Adrift, Mister Tuna, Departure, the Chowder Room and bubu.
I really like poke. When I was in Oahu, I’d drive more than an hour (each way!) to the other side of the island to get Aloha Poke (no relation to the Chicago chain) because it was the best I found.
But in landlocked Colorado, I’m not craving poke all that often, and I’m skeptical that Denver’s poke demand will be enough to meet this huge influx of poke supply.
Of the poke I’ve eaten here, I haven’t been impressed. Where’s the furikake — a crunchy, salty, briny Japanese seaweed seasoning for rice? Do I really want to spend $12 on a small bowl for lunch?
Tell me that the Denver poke invasion of 2017 isn’t just a passing trend but will become a way of life. That our children will look back on 2016 and shudder to think that their parents only had three poke restaurants to choose from. How did we live?
Or maybe I’m right and we’re already past our cubed-marinated-raw-fish saturation point. In which case I guess I should spend less time thinking about poke and more time eating it while I have it at the ready without needing an $800 plane ticket to Hawaii.
New York City favorite Big Gay Ice Cream will be in Crested Butte on July 7 in conjunction with the town’s music festival. It’ll be scooping out favorite flavors “paired” with the sweet sounds of pianist Peter Dugan and mezzosoprano Kara Dugan. Still not sweet enough for you? Food Network judge and all-star pastry chef Paulette Goto will be baking treats and cakes to go with the ice cream and music.
You need to eat, and these restaurants need to make money feeding people. Make the synergy happen at these recently opened spots:
• Snooze opened the first of two planned Westminster locations on June 28.
• Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar is now serving in the Arvada Centerplace, the chain’s 12th Colorado location. 7450 B West 52nd
• Estes Park dinner options just got a lot better with Seasoned, An American Bistro, a restaurant by chef Rob Corey (The Stanley Hotel, The French Manner). 205 Park Lane,
• Sazza, the super-sustainable pizza-meets-salad parlor inside the Stanley Marketplace, started rolling dough on June 26. 2501
• La Chiva, the popular Colombian food truck, opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant on South Broadway. 1417 S. Broadway, ●●●
So much for April being the cruelest month; June has not been kind to Colorado bars and restaurants. The Squeaky Bean shocked the Bingo Brunchloving crowd with the decision to close up shop on June 28.
“The dynamic of Lower Downtown has changed over the last few years with Union Station and ‘New Denver’ behind Union Station,” owner Johnny Ballen said. “This Bean plant put out a lot of nitrogen but unfortunately wasn’t getting enough water to sustain a longer life.”
Ballen said chef Josh Olsen will continue to grow and operate the Bean’s farm and that the annual Thanksgiving Feed for the Needy, a tradition started by the Aguirre family that owned Rosa Linda’s Cafe and which Squeaky took over two years ago when Rosa Linda’s closed, will live on.
No word (yet) on what will replace the quirky restaurant.
Two more closures: • Americatus, RiNo’s five-year-old Italian restaurant, went dark last weekend, leaving a raviolisized hole in Denver’s fresh-made pasta scene.
• The Overland, the Nathaniel Rateliff-backed bar that opened last July on South Broadway, didn’t even make it a year.