However, there are two things he refuses to change. First, there's the food. He won't give in on that one. "I don't feel that I've compromised with the food," Kelly says. "It's the same menu, just arranged a little differently." Indeed, diners who enjoyed Claire de Lune will note that although the menu at Somethin' Else looks different, the food is pure Kelly. They'll taste the locally grown fresh ingredients, served in the Mediterranean dishes. The roasted almonds and famous Caesar salad à la Aubergine are back. If you look, the fruit de mar from Clair de Lune is there too, you just order it differently. Regular Kathleen Von Stein is love with a new item on the menu, Kelly's blue cheese fondue with homemade potato chips. "They are heaven," she says.
The other point on which Kelly refuses to budge is his commitment to staying out of the kitchen. Somethin' Else is still Kelly's menu, but the cooking is compliments of Seth Black, a longtime Kelly employee. Kelly had made it clear that Clair de Lune would be the last place he cooked. He decided he wouldn't spend that much time in the kitchen away from his family. Now he will become a restaurateur, and hopefully that will be enough to make his dreamy crusade a profitable reality.
If you are what you eat, then a big city is defined at least in part by its restaurants. San Francisco is groovy, pricey, cutting-edge food from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse. New York is Rao's, the Italian restaurant peppered with mobsters and moguls. Los Angeles is The Ivy, with movie stars eating salad. Right now, Denver is a $35 plate of meat with a few $8 side dishes of creamed spinach, broccoli with hollandaise, au gratin potatoes. The Mile-High City is home to 17 steak houses, and most are outposts of national chains.
"I don't get it," says Mike Huff, of Adega Partners, which owns Adega, Mirepoix, and Table 6. "People complain about the prices at Table 6, but we give them a plate with a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. The steak houses charge more for a plate of meat, and you have to pay even more for your side dishes."