Side Dish 

Culinary crumbs and gastronomic gossip

Denver comes to Pueblo

It's hard to call a two-stop trip a "tour." Hence, saying you went on a fine-dining "tour" of Pueblo hasn't really worked in the past. Beyond Park East and Rio Bistro, the upscale eats quickly turn more modest (rippin' smothered burgers and the like).

But by month's end, it should be safe to use the t-word for Pueblo, with the opening of Restaurant Fifteen Twenty One at 123 N. Main St.

Any time you spell out a series of numbers, particularly in cursive, that means kick-ass fancy eats. And notable Denver chef Duy Pham, relocated to Pueblo with a 10-year lease on his new space, will deliver. At least that's what Rio Bistro chef Ben Bedard, a one-time student of Pham's, assured me a few months ago. And Pham, though not arrogant, is convincing on the phone, too.

"I'm not here to change Pueblo's dining scene and the way people think," says the Vietnamese-born Pham, who had lived in Denver since 1979. "I just want to offer another option."

That option is European-influenced (particularly French), eclectic, "ingredient- and market-driven," high-end food from scratch, served on a dinner menu that changes daily. (Lunch will be a fixed list.) Pham, who recently sold his shares in Denver's Aqua Oyster Bar and Lounge and a Japanese-turned-Mexican place called Kyoto before that, says he'll also bring in a featured guest chef from Denver monthly for special dinners: big names like Matt Selby, Kevin Taylor and Jamie Fader.

"The top 10 in Denver, in my opinion," Pham says.

As for the move to Pueblo: "I visited a few times with no intentions to open a restaurant ... [but] it's quiet, friendly ... I realized this is where I want to be."

Spectate this

Congratulations to Melting Pot (30 E. Pikes Peak Ave.) owner Tracy Carlson, who received her first Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. In order to nab one, according to Carlson, restaurants are judged on variety, geography, price points and menu pairing.

Tracy and her husband Steve won the only award among four Melting Pot franchises in Colorado. Among other local establishments of roughly 100 statewide to qualify this year: Craftwood Inn and The Broadmoor's Summit and Charles Court (for whom the honor isn't quite as grand, considering they've all won the award in past years).

"It's a big deal in the restaurant world," says Vintages Wine & Spirits owner Erin Collins. "When I'm traveling, I'm happy to see it it usually means they have a great wine list."

The Melting Pot, which celebrated its fourth anniversary last week, offers six four-course wine flights a year fine opportunities to sample the award-winning goods.

Send the word on food bling and fine wine to scene@csindy.com.


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