AAR Must Eat
There are some very good restaurants in this world. The below establishments meet the highest standards of quality and service and are therefore deemed an AAR Must Eat.
• After eating a Reuben at the exact location of its invention, an after-dinner drink was both prudent and convenient, as there was one located in the lobby of our hotel. Secreted behind the wall in a liquor store called the Looking Glass, the Wicked Rabbitt is the most authentic speakeasy I have ever spoke in. The decor is right out of the 30s, so much so I expected to be seated at the bar in between Jake Gittes and Nora Charles.
- The place is staffed by the typical hipster bartender, you know the one with a vest and a pork pie hat. When he asked me what I wanted to drink, I said I'll wait for my wife, she's in the bathroom." When she came out, I decided to order my drink, while Mrs. ARR perused the extensive menu. He then said with a hint of condescension "I'll wait until your wife is ready."
• Hobson's Choice in the Haight. It's a bar where you can order rum or nothing at all. There are three bowls of punch located behind the bar to choose from, I went with the House Punch, but if you went with the Gogo Punch, I don't think you could go wrong. It wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be, which is a good thing. If, like Mrs. AAR, you don't like the idea of your rum being ladled out of a large punch bowl into a Hurricane glass, then go with a Rumrita.
• Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen: According to its website, the owner Joshua was: "Drawing on his love of New York City’s classic food establishments such as Russ and Daughters, Katz’s Deli, and a few others, Joshua decided to focus on what he loves most – New York bagels and lox!" Now that's a bold statement. As you may know from earlier screeds, I take bagels very seriously: There are bagels from NY and bagels not from NY. So I was a little leery, but yet excited when my wife took me to this place in the "evolving" Five Points neighborhood. As we enter, we're off to a good start, as the name of this place is "Rosenberg's", you cannot get more authentic than that (with apologies to Barney Greengrass). The place actually looks like a Jewish deli, with stainless steel display cases, displaying gravlax, hot-smoked sturgeon, whitefish salad, yada yada yada - it's like deli-porn. While the service was actually friendlier than the average Jewish deli (what, me complain?), the truth is in the bagel. And the bagel was pretty damn good:
1. It was large: Most bagels (hello, Einstein Bros?) are just too small, but not this Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese @$3.75.
2. It was not toasted. Toasting is what you do to a stale bagel.
3. Crust: Thin but crisp . . . but not too crisp.
4. Insides: Soft and chewy . . . but not too chewy.
- Grade: A-, as the bagel could have been a little bigger and the service a little more acerbic. The finest bagel not from NY I have ever tasted.
- A few years ago there was a murder committed on the floor above the deli and the subsequent arson to cover up the killing shut the place down for six months. Is it wrong for me to think that this makes the bagels even tastier?
• Bastien's Restaurant: The Missus was hankerin' for a piece of beef. So I told her to scour the internet and find the best steakhouse in Denver and she came up with this place, the O.G. of Denver steakhouses. Family owned and operated since 1937. Since 1957 it has been located in a circular building that exhibits a certain amount of charm and hipness due to its retro-style, one could easily imagine Frank Sinatra dining here in in the '60s (ring-a-ding ding, baby!). We sat at the groovy sunken bar and chatted with our bartender Telly from Paramus (Who loves ya baby!). For some reason, I was immediately attracted to a drink called the Stranhattan, which was a Manhattan made with Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey (I, of course had mine on the rocks). We both had the 10 oz. New York Strip ($28), but the Missus paid $3 more for the Sugar Steak option a "signature rub of sugar & spices is designed specifically for a marbled cut of beef". Now putting sugar on my steak is a no can do for me, but some guy sitting at a barstool over there recommended it, so my wife said "Yes!". Later on, I took a bite from hers and said "No!". Let your palate be the guide as "De gustibus non est disputandum".
- My medium rare 10 oz. NY Strip was excellent. It comes old school with a choice of soup of the day or house salad, choice of potato & fresh sautéed vegetables.
• Jozsa Corner: This place is the exact opposite of Superior Motors. It's a one man operation serving quality Hungarian peasant food in an ”authentic” surrounding. Basically a sumptuous seven course feast (guylas, paprikas, langos, cucumber salad, haluska) served in a modest room, served on paper plates on a plastic tablecloth. The room is filled with empty wine bottles (memories?), assorted glassware, books, a piano and plastic containers (for your leftovers). Alexander (owner, host, chef, server, raconteur) will regale you with first hand accounts of the Hungarian Revolution, gentleman farming and the evolving neighborhood.
- It’s BYOB (we went with a G&T, Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling water)
- Dinner is $32 pp (cash). Alexander thinks that credit card companies don’t have their customer's interests at heart. Me thinks he may have an ulterior motive.
- You need to make a reservation for this communal dining experience. Trust me, this is for the best as dining with strangers is an integral part of this culinary adventure.
- Hello in Hungarian is “szervusz. (SER-voos).
- Cheers in Hungarian is ”egészségedre“ (egg ace shag edre).