2432 Cucharras St., 635-5635, motifwest.com
For a jazz club, Motif lacks improvisation and that wild spirit Kerouac has told us all about. Very little's changed since we first reviewed the spot in 2010. Atmosphere-wise, that's not a problem, because the swank décor invites and embraces and totally works. Menu-wise, and I'm primarily addressing the bar here, it's failed to innovate or even bother to catch up to the craft revolution. We want Colorado spirits and interesting imports (amaros ... whatever), not typical top-shelf mass market stuff at a premium price.
Lemon Drop martini? A $14 Makers Mark Manhattan? C'mon — visit the Principal's Office, take notes. Sure, the English Cucumber ($12) tastes light and clean, but summer's over. Ditto on the beach-y, stiff mango martini ($10). A charcuterie ($12) option is more a heavy mingling plate, mainly of common cheeses with a few thin salami slices and nuts. When they used to yell "blow" in old jazz clubs, they meant something else. — MS
Fossil Brewing Co.
2845 Ore Mill Road, #1, fossilbrewing.com, 375-8298
Considering Colorado is home to fossils from Allosaurus to Stegosaurus, Fossil Brewing, which held its grand opening in late October, is as appropriate a name as anything. For lovers of terrible lizards, there are fossil decorations on the wall of the simple tasting room, and beers from head brewer Josh Bye like Pentaceratops Pumpkin Ale, Mammoth India Pale Ale and Megalodon Blonde Ale. It's also admirable that the brewery partners with local companies — such as Radiantly Raw, which is contributing to a future chocolate blonde ale — and "adopted" two young girls to give presents to for Christmas.
Drinking a pint of Stone Age Stout ($5) is a proper winter act, its almost-black body and tan head properly previewing the milk-stout overtones to come. It's spicy up front, creamy and sweet in the middle, and finishes with sharp, crisp tastes that make your salivary glands go nuts. For a mild experience, try the house ginger ale ($2). — BC
Pig Latin Food Truck
Pig Latin continues to be the kind of truck you hope to never see pull off the road for good. Its dark-red presence is regularly felt at Curbside Cuisine, while, like many trucks, it keeps up a rotating presence at different breweries. We caught up with it outside Fossil Brewing, where owner Andres Velez was dishing a pork-belly green chile ($8.50) made with a chili lager from Nano 108 Brewing Co.
It was full of big squares of fruity pepper and a bright roasted succotash, then served over white rice with sour cream and tortilla strips. The highlight was, of course, the little chunks of pork, succulent and soft. Everything should be made with pork belly. It reminded me of the pozole at Adam's Mountain Café, but with a delicious burn that lingers. A stacked arepa ($7.50) makes for a simple treat, with its juicy pile of shredded pork kicked up with Sriracha, and rounds of fried plantains. — BC