Even before Anthony Bourdain gave brunch a bad rap on Kitchen Confidential, Westword's new dining critic Gretchen Kurtz avoided "potatoes formerly known as crisp and pancakes the size (and texture) of Frisbees." That was until she sampled The Kitchen Boulder's homemade chocolate croissants and chèvre-asparagus omelets. Despite Boulder's loyal brunch following, The Kitchen Denver, which opened on 16th and Wazee Streets in March, does not serve the weekend meal that has become a staple in Boulder.
Kurtz laments that "the relaxed, familial vibe associated with brunch" is missing from the Denver location, which seems to be going more for a trendy vibe rather than sticking to its mission "to create community through food." Despite the lack of brunch and somewhat uninviting atmosphere, The Kitchen's starter menu is full of "simple and ingredient-driven" dishes that foodies have flocked to Boulder for since co-founders Hugo Matheson, Kimbal Musk, and Jen Lewin opened their first location eight years ago. The main courses, however, "can be surprisingly uneven," leading Kurtz to call for more attention from both the front and back of the house. [Westword]
5280's Shari Caudron awards Denver's Trillium three-and-a-half stars in the September issue, touting chef-owner Ryan Leinonen's Nordic cuisine. Leinonen, whose resume lists the Kitchen, Colt & Gray, and Root Down, grew up eating his grandmother's traditional Finnish dishes and now seeks to bring that influence to Denver where the Scandinavian market is relatively untapped. Caudron says, "it's not often I'm surprised by items on a menu, but the caviar listing on Trillium's menu did arrest my attention." Plus, Caudron writes that dining at Trillium is about as authentic Scandinavian as it gets: "You get a sense of the region, a taste of the culture, and a wistful sense of longing, but you don't have to endure a security line to get there." 
THE ELSEWHERE: Denver Post columnist Kristen Browning-Blas says Lou's Food Bar "feels like the kind of place your parents used to go for a night out." From the décor to the cocktails, Lou's is "refreshingly straightforward," until you get to Frank Bonanno's menu, which adds a bit of whimsy and elegance to Lou's, "like Mom putting on her pearls." [DP]
THE BLOGS: The Denver Burger Battle is one event where staying in "food blogger shape" is out of the question for Indie Eats. While standing on the same field Peyton Manning will grace this Sunday was an experience in itself, the burgers were so stellar Indie Eats created a second set of awards. The Sink's Texas onion straw burger is perfect to sop up that Sunday hangover, but Mateo's Colorado sirloin burger topped with caramelized onions, herb aioli, and Gruyere "unexpectedly made my knees weak." [Indie Eats]