Celebrated Denver restaurateur Frank Bonanno  opened Lou's Food Bar  in Sunnyside last December, and the reviews have been mixed. I've been a fan of his other eateries for years, so I was intrigued by the new concept: American comfort food with French influences.
Grabbing a table on the airy patio, my friend and I scanned the menu. I sipped a sparkling le midi—a bright combination of champagne, orchard apricot liqueur, house orange bitters, and lemon—while perusing the charcuteries, salads, sandwiches, and mains. The list offers everything from escargot to spaghetti and meatballs.
Our server was prompt and friendly, putting in our order for grilled artichoke while we decided on the rest of our meal. Dusted with salt and pepper, the appetizer arrived with the veggie cut into halves; the leaves separated easily and received a nice kick from the accompanying Madras curry aïoli.
At the suggestion of my server, I ordered the fried chicken, a house specialty. The breasts and wing, which had been soaked in buttermilk for 12 hours before being breaded and fried, were juicy and tender. The crust was golden and crunchy in just the right way, and my first few bites didn't even make it through to the chicken. The predictable whipped potatoes and green beans were welcome additions to the plate, if slightly over-buttered. A side of jalapeño-cheddar cornbread also succeeded, arriving with a crispy crust that revealed an ideal crumbly interior. The jalapeño-cheddar flavor, however, could have been more robust. My friend's Waldorf chicken salad sandwich, on the other hand, was less impressive. A too-thick helping of mayo disguised the chicken and overpowered the tiny pieces of apple.
While the ambience had all the markings of a Bonanno eatery—think vertical wine racks, booths lining the walls, and a massive bar—the food lacked that special something that indicates greatness.
1851 W. 38th Ave., 303-458-0336