Join food editor Amanda M. Faison and Olive + Finch’s chef-owner Mary Nguyen to chat about the 2014 best new restaurants list, how Uptown has changed, and the Denver dining scene. They will answer questions from 10–10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 20.

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Megan from Denver

I haven't been to Olive & Finch yet but I love Asian food and I like your other restaurants. Can you tell me how it's different?

MARY NGUYEN

Olive & Finch is a huge departure from Parallel Seventeen and Street Kitchen. Not only is it NOT Asian, but it's also not full service. I wanted to open Olive & Finch for the same reasons I listed below.....I wanted to find a place that had great food, was quick & casual and wasn't so much of a commitment. I wanted to open a place that would provide people options to go multiple times a day. O&F (as I like to call it) is a casual eatery, bakery & market, committed to serving chef driven, restaurant quality meals using organic and sustainable products. We're the place that you can come in the morning, noon and night for a variety of items: a fresh pressed juice, a chocolate filled croissant, a full scale breakfast, a quick lunch, take out deli salads for an easy dinner at home or a quiet dinner for two on a weekend night. We do this all in a casual setting with nothing on our menu over $15.

Jill from Congress Park

This isnât a question, but I want you to know that Olive & FInchâs curbside service is great. More restaurants should do that.

MARY NGUYEN

Thanks Jill! I love it too.

Sadie from Park Hill

Does being a named a best new restaurant or getting a good review have a measurable impact on business?

MARY NGUYEN

The impact of being named a Best New Restaurant by 5280 and/or receiving good reviews is immeasurable. When you open a casual restaurant, you don't expect to be in the same "game" as those fine dining, full scale, white table restaurants. Best new restaurant lists and full scale restaurant reviews in my mind always seemed to be reserved for those kinds of restaurants- the higher echelon restaurant. So, being named a best new restaurant and getting great reviews is not only a huge achievement but is also amazing recognition. It gives the "little guy", aka, the casual inexpensive eatery an opportunity to provide what we do to a larger audience.

Jennifer S. from Colorado Springs

What's the next big thing in cuisine? What should I be looking for on menus now to impress my friends?

MARY NGUYEN

Wow, if I could predict what the next best thing is in cuisine, I'd be a millionaire ;-).....but if I had to give you advice on how to impress your friends, I would say, pull out your favorite go to dinner party recipe and replace the protein with an under utilized cut of meat. Not only will you wow them with your favorite go to recipe, but you'll be introducing them to something that they're unaware of....they'll thank you for it and believe me, your next party will not be forgotten!

Holly from Cap Hill

Can you talk about restaurant trends in Denver? Seems like there are a lot more casual, less expensive spots opening up.

MARY NGUYEN

There are definitely a lot more casual, less expensive places opening up. Over the past couple years, as a diner, I have been wanting to find more places that weren't such a commitment; a commitment in time, money and of course diet. I think that as our lives get busier, as diners we're looking for places that not only provide high quality food, but are healthy, and fast...Denver has so many amazing fine dining and/or full service restaurants-the choices are endless. However, when you don't want to make that kind of commitment, our only options have been fast food. As we grow as a city with an amazing dining scene, it seems only natural that this niche will start to grow.

Ben from Aurora

Is it easier opening a third restaurant than your first?

MARY NGUYEN

I think there are always challenges of opening a restaurant whether it's your first or your 50th. I wouldn't say it's necessarily easier because there are different challenges for every new restaurant opening: different building, different space, different menu, different landlord etc......but I would say it's a lot more fun and I've come to expect those challenges and deal with them a lot more gracefully then I did when it was my first.

Elizabeth from Aurora

I just discovered Olive & Finch and I love it as much as P17. Uptown is really happening these days. Has it always been like this?

MARY NGUYEN

Believe it or not, Uptown was not the happening place as it is now. When I first opened P17 over 8 years ago, it was very different. There were few restaurants on 17th Avenue at the time and a lot of people weren't really even aware of 17th Ave as a dining destination. I remember having to convince people that coming to 17th Ave wasn't dangerous and parking was safe even if we didn't have valet. Although P17 is still surrounded by section 8 housing, the landscape has changed dramatically. There are not only an amazing list of new restaurants on 17th ave but also a lot of redevelopment. The energy of the street has changed and you can feel it; It feels alive.

Sarah from Park Hill

What's your favorite dish at each of your restaurants?

MARY NGUYEN

That's a really hard question to answer....but if I had to choose only one dish from each restaurant, I'd have to say that I love the Okonomiyaki from Street Kitchen because of the savory Japanese flavors and the interesting presentation of the "moving fish flakes". The menu at Parallel Seventeen has evolved so much in the last 8 1/2 years but the one thing that I love and still have on the menu is the Coconut Encrusted Calamari for it's refreshing take on a traditional calamari (fried with a sauce) and it's balance of flavors of hot, sour, salty, sweet & bitter. At Olive & Finch, I would have to say that I'm in love with the Gregger's sandwich. It's one of my favorites because not only is it packed with flavor, but it also utilizes an undervalued cut of meat-beef tongue.