The Donut Mill
310 W. Midland Ave., Woodland Park, 687-9793, thedonutmill.com
I type "Donut Mill" into Facebook, and a post from a food-aware friend pops up: "Ugh what happened Donut Mill ... gone are the glory days."
Couldn't have said it better myself. When I arrived here in '97, you didn't take Ute Pass without hauling a fine pastry off to the mountains; it was culturally mandatory. Today, a generic quality pervades, starting with miserable, scorched drip coffee. During our visit, the staff didn't know from what roastery it hails, and I resorted to one of those flavored creamer packets I never use. Both green chile and their lauded sausage gravy landed goopy and unremarkable past a little burn and pepper bite, respectively, on veggie and chorizo breakfast burritos ($5.60/gravy; $6.20/green chile). Veggies were scant, and the eggs crumbly on both. A fluffy maple donut ($1.05) smacked sickly sweet, its granulated glaze fracturing like sea ice with a bite, raining jagged sugar crumbs. — MS
Multiple locations, bikini-xpresso.com
This place is a mess. If you insist on a Red Eye ($2.50/12-ounce) espresso that tastes like watery Folgers, and you want it delivered by a woman wearing rabbit ears and a thong, sure, Bikini Xpresso has three locations. But to my mind, a server in a lace teddy doesn't make up for crap coffee, poor product knowledge and a cash-only operation with no ATM in sight. My server, who'd worked here for over a year, didn't know where their beans came from, beyond "someone local." (Let it be said that it's possible to get something to ogle and decent food and service — try Trapper's Rendezvous.)
Worse than the Red Eye was a cappuccino ($3/12-ounce), which smelled of caramelized milk sugars and tasted like it was waiting for vanilla and cinnamon to help put a small child to bed. Espresso? What espresso? In case there was any doubt, nobody frequenting Bikini is coming for the coffee. — GS
Fratelli Ristorante Italiano
124 N. Nevada Ave., 575-9571, fratelliristorante.com
The first thing you need to know about Fratelli is that its employees burn incense in the restrooms before service begins — only half a stick, mind, so they don't suffocate their diners. Needless to say, ownership is exacting when it comes to the dining experience. Were it not for the ugliness of seeing a new hire chewed out behind the bar (albeit fairly tactfully), I'd say the results are exquisite. Certainly, the food pleases.
Start with a blood orange martini ($6), a "traditional" floral blend of limoncello, orangecello and orange vodka. Continue with pollo with pesto cream ($17), garnished with sweet, al dente green beans, and hearty enough for a winter meal with pounded-flat chicken breast, tender angel hair and sweet pine nuts. End with a glazed limoncello cake ($7), dragged from saccharine hell by a bitter whisper in the cake itself — it provides an elegant accompaniment to a deftly prepared cappuccino ($4.50). — GS