Table Talk for January 17
Double take...Executive Chef Rollie Wesen, who opened the highly touted $5 million-dollar Summit at The Boadmoor Hotel, is leaving his position after just 12 days. The hotel's PR crew explains that Wesen and his wife Claudine Pepin are moving back East to be closer to family and to pursue career opportunities. Not so says Wesen, who is the son-in-law of French chef Jacques Pepin and the former executive chef at Rivers in Portland, Oregon. "I think it's safe to say that rather than leaving to relocate to the East Coast, we're parting company for mutually creative differences." When asked what went so terribly wrong as to cut short his time at the Broadmoor, Wesen says, "I think within the culture of the Broadmoor it was somewhat difficult to accept the concept of my foodI have a very straight forward, rustic, and somewhat simplistic approach to cooking. The Broadmoor's standards of presentation and elegance particularly in the context of a brand-new restaurant made it difficult to accept my style." At the moment he has no immediate plans to leave Colorado Springs, though Wesen admits, "We kind of have a feeling this is a one-horse town, and we've been kicked off the horse." This may be good news for Denver, as it sounds like the Mile-High City is on Wesen's short list, along with Phoenix and Scottsdale. As for the Broadmoor, Bertrand Bouquin has been appointed to replace Wesen as Summit's executive chef.
The Italian job...Ever since Venice Ristorante Italiano set up shop in Adega's old digs a month and a half ago, the pressing question of foodies has been: "Have you eaten at Venice yet?" I was as anxious as anyone to see how chef Alessandro Carollo's traditional Italian cooking meshed with the tony downtown address, and last week I finally had a chance to check it out. Manager James Woodhouse says that aside from bringing in artists to paint murals in the bar and dining room, nothing needed to be done to the space. Sure enough, the space still feels like Adegacavernous and contemporary to the point of chilliness. While the food (think hearty osso buco, fresh cantaloupe and prosciutto, and cozy cappellacci stuffed with butternut squash) and jovial service don't exactly fit the restaurant's design, they go a long way in warming up the experience. If you crave the intimacy of the original Venice (5946 S. Holly St., Greenwood Village, 720-482-9191), the downtown location might strike you as little too uptown but the menu is mostly new, and in our mind, improved. 1700 Wynkoop St., 303-534-2222.
Turning tables... With a newly granted liquor license in hand, chef Amy Vitale is ready to take Tables Cafe to the next level: dinner. Since opening the Park Hill sandwich spot last April, the former Strings chef has been patiently biding her time. "Sandwiches were the best way to start," explains Vitale. "We didn't have any major funding and we wanted to make sure [Tables] would work." But once the regulars began asking about dinner, Vitale and chef husband Dustin Barret knew they were on to something good. Initially the restaurant will only be open for dinner Thursday through Saturday. In the works: a seasonal menu with braised lamb shank and mascarpone-polenta and currants, pork tenderloin with cider or cherry glaze, a selection of three pastas, and a veggie lasagna or soufflé. 2267 Kearney St., 303-388-0299.