Noteworthy Tumblr #5: Table For One

Table For One is simple. It has a white background, photos of people eating alone, a title, and that’s about it. However, it elicits some strong feelings from people.

The tumblr didn’t evoke any negative emotions from me, maybe because I eat alone so often. I enjoy eating by myself. You can’t forget that just because you are at a table for one, it doesn’t mean you are alone.


Photo credit: Jerry Hsu

What The Fuck Should You Make For Dinner?

One of the hardest parts about eating dinner is deciding what to have. The next time you can’t decide what to have, use the simply designed, single-serving site “What The Fuck Should I Have For Dinner“. It’ll provide you, in the most vulgar way possible, with a dinner suggestion and a link to the suggested meal’s recipe. Now go match your attitude with your appetite! There is even a fucking vegetarian option. And if you’re on the fucking go you can also get the fucking iPhone app.

Star Crossed Lovers

When I made the reservation for eight of us at Cafe Star, it sounded like they might have trouble tabling that many people on a Friday, they took the reservation anyway. When I arrived with only two others they seated us immediately not once asking when the rest of the party will arrive. They quickly took our drink orders and we had full glasses of delicious Cheapskate Cabernet and a bottle of bubbling Vino Verde (not Prosecco) waiting for everyone when they showed. When the other six people arrived, they accommodated our extra arrival without rancor and quickly had another place set before she even reached the table. Our waitress, the dear Andrea, whom I had already fell head over heels for, answered all of our questions patiently and knowledgably. And trust me, we bombarded her with questions about everything on the menu! My wine glass was never empty, nobody attempted to take my plate before I was done (a common occurrence with a slow eater like me), we were rarely bothered during our meals, and wholly taken care of. On top of all that, Andrea didn’t include gratuity in the bill, she knew full well that her performance would do the correct math. Amazing! Was there really this kind of service in a Denver restaurant? How completely refreshing. If this meal were based solely on service it would have been incredible.

Instead, Rebecca Weitzman, made Cafe Star top itself with menu that continues to amaze me. The menu changes to evolve with the season’s freshest produce and meats. Our table started off our meal with three flatbread pizzettas appetizers, all of which were unique and flavorful. We worked the kitchen over by each ordering a unique dish (doubling up on only one plate) and every one of them was delicious. Portions seem small at first glance but are rich and intense with unique flavors. Our buffalo steak was returned because it was a little undercooked, but it came out three minutes later seared to perfection and was promptly devoured. I ordered the lamb which was heaven on a plate and a perfectly sized portion for such a rich cut of meat. There was no problem finding dishes for the vegetarians in our party (and not just pasta with vegetables) though the pressed eggplant was probably the only dish not to my liking. In my opinion the best dish on the table was the lobster-and-rock-shrimp pot pie riddled with tarragon, as comforting as comfort food gets, yet as luxurious as anything. My girlfriend ordered the crisp gnocchi with truffle oil and escargot, which I finished without question. Don’t miss the soft-sweet beets with pistachio-crusted goat cheese or the crab-filled potato ravioli with white truffle sauce. The desserts were good too, though no match for the entrees. You won’t be disappointed with the Chocolate and Chili Pot d’Creme.

Cafe Star is hip, without attitude. Somehow, the entire room feels like both a trendy hot spot and low-key neighborhood hangout. It’s colorful and creative. Flavored and textured.

Now if there were only more restaurants in this town on the same level of excellence as Cafe Star. Have any ideas?

Casa Bonita

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure/displeasure of eating at one of Denver’s – scratch that – the Nation’s landmark restaurants: Casa Bonita.

Casa Bonita opened in 1974. It is over 52,000 square feet with seating for 1,100 guests and took one year to build. Since the Casa Bonita in Tulsa closed in September of 2005 (which I’m incredibly disappointed in never having had the chance to visit), Denver’s Casa Bonita is now one of a kind – with the exception of the soon to be open Casa Viva and The Mayan (which was sued by Casa Bonita). Casa Bonita achieved national recognition recently with it’s appearance on South Park.

I think it’s easily described as the offspring of a broken down Disneyland, less than stellar Taco Bell, long airport security lines, the Las Vegas Strip, Chunky Cheese, and good liquid acid.

Nearly everyone who has lived in Denver, for any amount of time, is going to know what casa Bonita is. And most of those people are going to gag at the mere mention of it’s name. In fact, the reputation of the food at Casa Bonita is so poor it has been deemed “Casa Don’t-eat-a” by many Denverites. Casa Bonita is not for the week of heart or the week of stomach. It is just as plastic as Vegas (maybe more). And the food is some of the worst I’ve ever had. For reals.

The lines to get into the Casa can be horrendous. Go on a weeknight, less screaming children and little-to-no lines. If you decide to make a weekend night out of it you can expect lines up to an hour long to get in. And often a 30 minute line can form just to get the hell out of there. You’ve been warned. Trust me, this is one of the last places on earth you want to feel trapped.

After you have made your order and paid (you didn’t think they’re going let you see what’s on your plate before you paid did you), you are ushered to another cafeteria style line were you get a tray and wait until a young lady asks, “wachoo order?”. Soon your meal comes sliding out of a mysterious hole in the wall were it waits for you under the heating lamps. I love the fact that you never see where or by whom your food is made – it just appears through a hole!

Mystery Slot

I can only harsh on Casa Bonita for so long though. I personally, have spent many a childhood birthday at Casa Bonita. It will forever hold a nostalgic place in my heart, no matter how many times I end up puking in the fountain on the way out.

And so the fun begins. After getting your slop you’ll be lead to your seat. Everyone asks for a seat by the waterfall. Don’t. The smell of chlorine will get your stomach upset before you have a chance to drink your first coronaita. And they won’t seat you there anyway. One of the coolest things about Casa Bonita is all the cool rooms they can seat you in. There are gazebos, waterfall seating, mines, cave rooms, “open air” seating, and the governors mansion.

Miners Booths

This particular time we were seated in the magic room. This room had a cool chandelier and stage complete with red velvet curtain. There are magic shows every hour. The magician seemed like the saddest man on the planet but actually produced quite a few laughs.

Chandalier

In addition to magic shows, Casa Bonita has all kinds of other entertainment including pupppet shows, flame jugglers, a wishing well, a roaming mariachi band (which reportedly can’t play anything other than ‘happy birthday’), Black Barts cave, an arcade filled with 80’s video games and ski-ball, a souvenir store filled with absolute shit – and t-shirts, “authentic” Mexican dancers, a wishing well, piñatas for the kids, and all kinds of other stuff. Casa Bonita is great to go exploring in. Go thru a door your not supposed, search around, there is cool stuff to be found.

The Alley

The Puppet Show Is Closed

But by far the main attraction at Casa Bonita is the thirty-foot waterfall. Everyone seems to fall into the waterfall. If it’s not the regular divers doing flips, it’s Black Bart being shot by the sheriff and falling into the pool, or Chiquita the gorilla running around it escaping her captor and harassing the patrons. It’s the waterfall that makes Casa Bonita really unique. The diver’s at Casa Bonita even have there own blog featuring Chiquita.

Mariachi

Here are some Southpark screen caps and sounds.

Here are Casa Bonita My Space and Friendster accounts.

Go to Tiki Boyds and get a drink called the Casa Bonita. Refreshing!

Her reminiscing about Casa Bonita really hit home with me.

This dude made a video of his Casa Bonita experience.

Jeffery Sward has some great phtography of Casa Bonita.

The death metal band Carrion Crawler once did a short show on the Casa Bonita stage before getting kicked off.

Some more Casa Bonita photos can be found here.

This is a decent post about the Casa.

Casa Bonita at Night :: Denver

Please share you favorite / nostalgic / least favorite stories about the Casa. Or, just comment on how absolutly jealous you are of not being able to go here every weekend!

I’m Not Sure Why This Happens

I get this thing that happens to me. And I’m not sure why. The majority of the time it happens when I skip a meal. But sometimes it’ll happen a couple of hours after eating. I seems to resemble the symptoms of low blood sugar or diabetes. I can feel it coming on. It starts out with a kind of funny feeling in my stomach that spills in to my limbs, a sort of tingly, tired feeling. After a while, say about 5-15 minutes, I start to get shaky, much like “the shakes” people get when they get real hungry, but these are a little more violent. Very soon after the shakes I’ll break out into cold sweats.
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A Night At Jerusalem

I went out to dinner with my pops last night and will be doing so again tonight. We ate at a little (only 10 or so tables, and some additional seating outside that was not an option because it was snowing) place called Jerusalem Restaurant over in the Denver University area. The Jerusalem restaurant is owned by the Wahdan family and has been in operation since 1978. Dinner was really relaxed and it was an enjoyable evening.