There are only two major media outlets that review Denver restaurants on a weekly basis. At times, it looks like the two critics, Gretchen Kurtz of Westword and Bill Porter of the Denver Post, are in an arms race to be the tone-setting source that publishes an opinion first. The review of Range, the new restaurant opened in the recently renovated Renaissance Hotel, resulted in a tie when both critics simultaneously published reviews on Wednesday.
Porter, who under the newspaper's system awards stars, bestows two (of four) on the downtown restaurant. While acknowledging the difficulty of being a high-achieving restaurant inside a hotel, the reviewer praises the creativity and penchant for contemporary New West cuisine that chef Paul Nagan has shown. On one side, Porter stresses that the restaurant needs to work on its service; on the other, he recommends seating at the chef's counter at the back of the room and ordering fish, the mozzarella cheese and smoky bacon jam pizza, and the cheese-stuffed squash blossoms.
For her part, Kurtz highlights the menu's attention to local products — from cheese to pork. She too notices holes in service and finds them to be particularly damaging to retaining the local clientele. Without the benefit (or drawback) or stars, the critic reveals that one of the main issues she encountered was the outdated spring menu served in the summer months. That was soon corrected. She finds several dishes to be overly sweet, but recommends the smoked Tender Belly Berkshire pork tenderloin, the charred Padrón peppers, and the skin-on bass, among others.
· Sneak Peek: Range Is Now Open Downtown [EDen]
· New West Flavors Find Home at Range [DP]
· Range Brings a Taste of the Mild, Wild West to Denver [Cafe Society]