Jay Fox's Dining Guide
FOX: WHY DO LEGISLATORS EAT HERE? CUZ THE GRUB’S GOOD!
“But when the time comes that a man has had his dinner, then the true man comes to the surface.” — Mark Twain
IT’S BEEN ALMOST 14 YEARS SINCE, Rich Salturelli and Chef David Minty purchased the venerable restaurant at 321 E. Colfax from Big Jim Beatty, now in the food concession business in Pueblo where we last saw him at this year’s State Fair.
Being located less than a block from the state Capitol, legislators, staff, lobbyists and local businesspeople find their way to CityGrille almost daily for lunch and quite often for dinner and relaxation. While the ambiance is simple, perhaps unpretentious, and even in need of refurbishing, the food and service are first-rate for all the years this restaurant has been in existence. This is the home of the true power lunch.
Just over eight years ago then Rocky Mountain News restaurant critic John Lehndorffcame out with his Best Burgers column about the same time I came out with mine; we had dined together for much of the “testing”. Often we had several large burgers each, visiting two restaurants one right after the other. You can get a copy of my original column by emailing me.
While John and I wrote separate reviews, much of our lists were the same, albeit in slightly different order and selected for different reasons. Some restaurants I reviewed John never got to and vice versa, but we both agreed on the criteria to be reviewed.
When CityGrille didn’t quite make my Top Ten Best Buggers in town (I had them at #13), I heard loud and clear from their patrons. Man, it’s a good thing I didn’t have email then cuz it would have been really horrid. The good news is that they were three ahead of Cherry Cricket, who at #16 got their diners to send 47,003 letters, notes and phone calls complaining about both of our selections. Of my original top ten, half are now gone. I think I fared better than John’s list where I think six of his top ten are gone.
CityGrille has promoted their burger as the best in town for a long time, citing many critics over the years who have lauded their product. Noticeably absent from that list is The Colorado Statesman. So now I’m back for another look. Well, I still don’t rank it as the best in town, but it’s darn good. Would it make a new top ten? It just might.
Chef Minty changed the beef a few years ago and is buying their 80% lean ground beef from the very selective Harris Ranch in Selma, California, considered to be among the finest, safest Angus beef in America. As y’all know, the burger, as with any sangie, ain’t no good without a great roll that doesn’t overwhelm the sangie or burger, but complements it. CityGrille still uses the fabulous triangle-shaped crusty roll from Bluepoint Bakery. Sadly, Bluepoint no longer has a retail location. The Grille also serves some of Denver’s Best green chili, available in vegetarian as well as meat. Maybe Denver’s Best apple crisp. Certainly some of Denver’s Best Service. Especially if Mel is your server, cuz she’s been there since ought 8, when I was just a lad in knee-pants. Methinks Ralph Carr was governor. You’ll also find Rich’s son, David Salturelli, running around the place performing a variety of functions. I guess it’s in the family blood.
Now the rest of the menu, cuz it ain’t all just buggers. At lunch last week with Jervasis Joe, I had the un-garnished burger, ordered and served a perfect rare plus, with their maavelous cole slaw. JJ had the house-made tamales and pronounced them stupendous. Then we shared the apple carmel crisp with vanilla ice cream. Yo. Right, shared. I got two spoonfuls, JJ the rest. There are bunches of munchies including a very yummy chili cheese fries.
The elaborate menu offers lotsa goodies, including a variety of burgers: salmon, Ahi tuna, turkey and (ugh) veggie. Southwestern fare is a major player, with burritos, tamales, carnitas, enchiladas, rellenos and more. The menu also features a large selection of salads and fresh made soups. Grille Favorites include sangies, chicken, a flat iron steak sangie, mac and cheese and lotsa other sangies. Missing from the current menu was muh all-time favorite, the ultra-delish rib-eye steak sangie. I guess if you folks didn’t buy it, it’s gone. Dessert anyone? In addition to the afore-mentioned apple crisp, there’s house-made bread pudding and a special brownie. I do luv brownies.
The Grille is known for their popular dine-in only evening specials. I luv the mini-burgers which are offered on a variety of special occasions and late in the evenings. But otherwise there’s a different special each nite. Monday is Burger Badness, Tuesday is Crab Cake, Wednesday is Rib nite, Thursday is surf & turf, Friday is Big City Burrito nite, Saturday is Prime Time, and Sunday is Spaghetti nite.
The Grille features a host of California wines, a list of 50 tequilas, and 12 micro and imported beers on tap. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There’s plenty of free parking after 3 p.m. in the back of the restaurant. CityGrille will cater your next event — breakfast, lunch or dinner.
They have a sister restaurant with the same great grub but a more casual, neighborhood ambiance, called CityPub (3575 S. Yosemite St, 303-694-0454). Check ‘em both out at their web site www.citygrille.com.
Jay Fox, our fine dining critic, has been observed in our neighborhood of late, so watch out! If you want to contact him, try email@example.com.