Dining Reviews

January 2007

Best Bites - Verdura Panino at Mici
We’re not ones for New Year’s resolutions, but enough already with the overeating and overspending. Hit Mici’s for lunch, but skip the downtown shop’s bubbling pizzas and hearty pastas and opt for the verdura panino: fresh mozzarella, provolone, spinach, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pesto, and aïoli. Choose crusty ciabatta or whole wheat (our favorite), and order half ($4) or whole ($6.50). Half of this generous sandwich will carry you to dinner, while a whole serves as two meals in one. Mici 1531 Stout St., 303-629-6424, www.miciitalian.com

1. Restaurant 4580
By Carol W. Maybach
(out of 4 stars)
4580 Broadway, Boulder, 303-448-1500
The Draw
A hip, new Mediterranean eatery in an up-and-coming Boulder neighborhood.
The Drawback
Some inconsistency in flavoring and preparation; desserts are hit or miss.
Don't Miss
The osso buco, marinated skirt steak, harissa-spiced scallops, and ahi tuna crudo.
Vegetarian Options
House-marinated olives, saffron risotto fritters, slow-roasted tomato risotto.

2. Back for More... Le Central
By Gabrielle Devenish
(out of 4 stars)
112 E. Eighth Ave., 303-863-8094
Must-Try New Dishes
Grilled ruby trout with orange and almond cream sauce.
Old Favorites
Moules et frites, pâtés du Central.
In 2004, 5280 critic Carol Maybach wrote Le Central “filled a special spot” as an affordable French restaurant in Denver. While unimpressed by bland soup and the occasional sauce, she raved about the famous mussels, seductive desserts, and delightful French ambience. Maybach awarded the Denver staple two and a half stars (out of four), concluding that it was worth many return visits. Shortly afterward, the restaurant lost both its chef, Yoann Lardeaux, and sous chef, Tobias Burkhalter, to the now defunct Steak au Poivre in Cherry Creek North. Chef Robert Tournier, who has owned the restaurant since its opening in 1980, then hired Richard Ruiz as a replacement in June 2005. Sadly, Ruiz died unexpectedly just three weeks later, and Laurent Labout, his replacement, left the restaurant in July. Now, Tournier and newly appointed chef Jason Debacker are striving to prove that, after 26 years, Le Central is still a contender in Denver’s dining scene.
It was a snowy night and we needed a little vacation. But instead of going to the airport, we steered the car to Le Central, where a French-speaking hostess greeted us with a thick accent. The dining room bustled, but additional rooms and an enclosed patio ensured quick seating. Soft lighting, wooden floors, greenery, and twinkle lights—even the mish-mash of tables and chairs—evoked the feeling of an outdoor bistro in Nice.

First up, two glasses of wine. The extensive wine list (there are more than 200 bottles) is mainly French and inexpensive, with choices running $17 to $35. The waitstaff happily chimes in, and on one visit our server suggested a better wine (within the same price range) than we originally ordered... (Continued)