Tess on the Town: Denver festival features some of city’s top restaurants

It’s getting close to one of my favorite times of the year. Here’s a hint: It involves many courses of fabulous food, saves you a bundle and is inspired by the altitude of a particular Colorado city.

You got it, Denver Restaurant Week. If you want to pack the car, cross the divide and shake up the winter doldrums, this might be the destination for you.

The capital city food fest runs from Feb. 25 to March 9, with nearly 300 participating restaurants offering multi-course dinners for the “Mile High” fixed price of $52.80 for two or $26.40 for one.

And these aren’t shabby places by a long shot. Some of Denver’s crème de la crème are included in the list, such as Barolo Grill, Bistro Vendome, Café Prague, Briarwood Inn, Vesta and Japon.

Last year, 360,000 meals were served. The best spots fill up quickly, so reservations are strongly recommended.

To view the menus and see participating restaurants, go to http://www.denver.org/denverrestaurant.

NEW IN GJ: Cheng Le Lin, owner of Grand International Buffet, 2504 U.S. Highway 6&50, has added new pan-Asian items to the buffet.

Lin, who has been in the restaurant business with his wife Sandy for 13 years, said he wants to add more variety and give customers more choices.

The new buffet items are pork and chicken tonkatsu, Thai peanut chicken and additional sushis, such as white tuna, squids, mackerel and surf clam.

But what Lin is especially excited about is his new double-purpose grill, which allows customers to choose from an expanded list of made-to-order dishes. One side is a wok-type surface for cooking stir fries and Mongolian style dishes. The other side is brazier style, on which chefs grill steaks and three types of tuna steaks.

The Lins, who have worked in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Arizona, opened their restaurant in Grand Junction about four years ago.

The “international” in the restaurant name refers to the fact that Lin caters to a wide range of tastes, and his buffet includes American foods.

I asked Lin and family friend Mei Ling what their favorite meal is. And, of course, the two trimmest people in the restaurant, were unanimous in their answer: a steaming plate of fresh grilled vegetables.

GOOD FOR THE HEART: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, an evening of music and all of the chocolate creations you can eat is set for 6–9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Western Colorado Community College, Building B, 2508 Blichmann Ave.

The event is a fundraiser for the high school and college students of Health Occupations of America. These students, who may be your future doctors and nurses, also plan a silent auction.

Tickets are $10. Call Darren Oxford, 270-5471, or Theresa Bloom, 640-9875, for details.

MUNCH A BRUNCH: Spoon’s bistro & bakery, 3090B N. 12th St., is now open for Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Eggs Benedict, caramel apple oatmeal, focaccia paninis and Mickey Mouse pancakes are a few of the creations. To view the full menu, go to spoonsbistroand baker.com.

THE BIG KAHUNA: A restaurant owner paid nearly three-quarters of a million dollars, a record price for a single tuna, last month in Japan. The 592-pound bluefin monster was caught off the coast of Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture, according to the Associated Press. It was a matter of pride to Kiyoshi Kimura, because he didn’t want the prize catch to end up in Hong Kong like it did last year. According to poundage, that would make a single serving of the endangered fish about $65.

QUOTE: “It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.”

­— Meryl Streep

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