Table Talk for May 2

May 2 2006, 10:00 PM
COMING SOON: HIGHLAND GOES CARIBBEAN
Just months after Poggio's Italian Coffee Bar Café & Gelateria closed up shop at 3609 W. 32nd Ave., 8 Rivers Café, a Caribbean restaurant, plans to open June 1. Executive chef and owner Scott Durrah, who grew up in Boston's North End, combines his Italian roots with island spice to bring us a menu that fuses Italian and Caribbean flavors—think smoked jerk Alaskan king crab legs, rasta pasta, and smoked jerk turkey with rice, peas, and fried plantains. Durrah, of the famous Jamaican Café in Santa Monica, says he's looking forward to having a small restaurant (capacity 40, including patio seating), where he can talk with customers and work with local growers. He and his wife, Wanda, are working to secure a liquor license—something the West Highland Neighborhood Association has recently cracked down on. But Wanda is optimistic: "The way we look at it, we're a grown-up establishment, there won't even be a bar in the space," she says. "This is a restaurant and pairing wines to food is part of what we do." Besides, who wouldn't want a Red Stripe to quell the flames of 8 Rivers' jerk steak. www.8riversrestaurant.com. NEW: ANOTHER REASON TO VISIT PARKER
When we think of dining in Parker, we immediately envision the volcano sushi rolls—tempura-fried spirals with diver scallops, salmon, cream cheese, and avocado—at Junz (www.junzrestaurant.com). But now we've found another spot worthy of our to-dine list: Beckett's Table, a restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine right on the greens of Canterberry Club golf course. Executive chef Chris Cina, whose cooking credits include Zenith, Fourth Story Restaurant & Bar, and Tuscany, mans the kitchen. Cina has a knack for taking an ordinary ingredient and pairing it with unusual sauces and sides—our pick of the dinner menu is the ancho chile-marinated pork rib chop with cold black bean salad, tostones (fried green plantain chips), and blood-orange mojo. Dine al fresco on the patio, and catch Beckett's at its best. 11400 Canterberry Parkway, Parker, 303-840-3100, www.beckettstable.com. HELPFUL HINT: JOG YOUR MEMORY
Scanning the glass case at St. Kilian's Cheese Shop at 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard, you wonder if it was the robiola or Humboldt Fog, Old Amsterdam or Harvest Moon that you bought (and loved) the last time. Enter the cheese rolodex, courtesy of shop owner Hugh O'Neill and take the guessing out of shopping. Fill out a card with your name and cheese preferences, and file it away—never again to wrack your brain over what to buy. The bonus, says O'Neill, is that now friends and family have access to your favorites and—hint, hint—can surprise you with goodies anytime. 3211 Lowell Blvd., 303-477-0374.