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Local Food Writers Name Their Biggest Restaurant Grievance of 2015

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Sad shutters, overused ingredients, and underperforming desserts.

Lower 48
Lower 48
Adam Larkey

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions and we have already covered restaurant standbystop newcomersbiggest dining surprises, the dining scene in one wordthe best dining neighborhoods, and the best meals of the year. On deck: Grievances. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Please, add your answers in the comments.

Q: What was the biggest restaurant grievance of 2015?

Lori Midson, Zagat Denver editor

Servers who ask me a hundred times if I'm enjoying my breakfast/lunch/dinner, but completely ignore the small details like removing empty plates, refilling glasses, replacing cutlery and delivering the check before I fall asleep. And one more grievance: While Denver experienced an onslaught of new restaurants, too many of them were justcarbon copies of each other. I so wish that chefs in this city would take more risks and stop doing more of the same. I'm not asking for a New York or San Francisco restaurant scene; I'm simply asking for more diversity and international cuisines.

Amanda Faison, 5280 Magazine food editor

With just a few exceptions, the lack of ingenuity in Denver's pastry scene. Dessert has become boring—and that's a travesty.

William Porter, Denver Post restaurant critic

Too often, there's a certain sameness between restaurant menus, especially those hailing from the Contemporary American school of dining. Do we really need another place serving crispy Brussels sprouts, deviled eggs, cheese grits, kimchee or someone's misguided notion of what constitutes Southern-style pulled pork? Does baked cauliflower really need its moment in the sun? Can't it just stay in the pages of Nation's Restaurant News or whatever industry magazine less imaginative chefs cop ideas from?

Andra Zeppelin, Eater Denver editor

The half-assedness of dessert programs at most top restaurants and utter lack of great patisserie-like places (except for my darling Devil's Food!) where a sugar fanatic like me can get a well-made macaron, a high-quality eclair, or a fresh fruit tart.  For some reason, this last bite and last impression of a meal is not a priority for chefs and owners. The lack of innovation, authenticity, and ingenuity in a lot of our top restaurants comes second on my list of things I'd like to see change in 2016. Hop Alley gives me hope because it is so original and full of heart.

Brittany Werges, 303 Magazine food editor

I think service could still improve in Denver, as well as general consistency. It's always a bummer when you go to a restaurant and have an awesome experience, and later return and have it be really subpar.

Jennifer Murphy, freelance writer, AFAR contributor

Gluten free everything.

Ruth Tobias, Thrillist contributing writer

Besides the fact that last year's—the lack of legit Spanish tapas bars—still hasn't been addressed? The closure of some of Denver's most exciting restaurants, most notably Lower48 Kitchen and Trillium. Nothing makes me cry except bad Sandra Bullock rom-coms, but I came damn close upon learning we were losing the dream team of Alex Figura and Mario Nocifera.

Jessie Levine, Eater Denver contributor

I had some remarkably mediocre meals at esteemed Denver restaurants this year. My grievance would be the dearth of true consistency with some of the Denver's "best" restaurants. I want to root for Denver's food scene on a national level, but more of our top restaurants need to be consistently stellar and keep up with national trends in order for that to happen. Until then, for most meals, you'll find me on Federal Blvd. seeking out inexpensive Asian food.

Grace Boyle, Eater Denver contributo

Fuel Cafe and Tom's Home Cookin' in Denver. Although I'm not surprised and didn't love the restaurant, Boulder Cafe was quite iconic and a great location on Boulder's Pearl Street. A bummer we recently learned that a bank (not a restaurant) is going in its place. Too bad.

Gigi Sukin, CoBiz and Eater Denver contributor

Across the board I think service leaves a lot to be desired. I'll tell you, some of my favorite food experiences in Denver have been overshadowed by lousy attitudes, poor responsiveness or seemingly l lack of interest in being in hospitality. This, unfortunately, is a recurring theme and for me a total deal-breaker.

Maya Silver, Dining Out Magazine writer

Farm-to-table-washing. These days, it's becoming almost expected that great restaurants source their products fresh and locally. To call yourself farm-to-table, I think you need to go the extra mile beyond just featuring a few local products when it's convenient. I love seeing more restaurants deepen their commitment to local and sustainable sourcing by owning their own farm (e.g. with The Squeaky Bean) or partnering with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program like Jax and Cart-Driver.

Megan Barber, Curbed Ski editor

Fuel Restaurant closing.

Linnea Covington, freelance writer, Westword contributor

Let's get the Asian game going, please? There are good pho places, but the ramen scene and Chinese food offerings are sad.

Adam Larkey, Eater Denver photographer

Labor shortages, inconsistent service and increased rents seem to remain the biggest issues in the industry.

Rebecca Treon, freelance writer, Denver Post contributor

That we are losing a lot of great places like Lower 48 and Trillium because the market is so flooded with competition.

Rachel Greiman, Eater Denver contributor

Service. But not what you're thinking. The average touch-point with a server is ELEVEN times per meal in Denver. Yes, I counted. And that was only the times they spoke. I do not need to be asked three times how my meal is. Ever. Especially when you interrupt my conversation to ask me.

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