Bastien’s Restaurant

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August 9, 2021, Bastien’s on East Colfax with my good friend X. Fantastic meal overall.

20oz Bone in Ribeye

This is an old school steakhouse and a Denver fixture since the 1930’s.  You walk into the place and it feels like 1987. The carpet, the color scheme, the wood paneling on the ceiling, exposed beams, black and white Ratpack-esque photos, all feel very 1987 for some reason.  Which is a good thing, the 80s were the decade of my early adulthood. It could use a facelift as it feels more like a cafeteria/diner than a classy high-end restaurant.   Although the food and prices are higher end, this place isn’t fancy, and not a recommended place for romance.  But if you’re in the mood for a fat steak and homemade sides, this is the place.  I love it.  It’s a family dining experience.  X had two Old Fashioned drinks, I had two Gin Rickeys, each cocktail exactly like the last.  The bartenders definitely know what they’re doing and the consistency is appreciated. The cocktails were perfect, served in a highball, nothing fancy. X’s Old Fashioned look like a Colorado sunset.  Perfect.

We were sat on the lower level in a leather booth, Sinatra was on the stereo.  A black-and-white poster of Marilyn Monroe on the wall, which normally might look a little sleazy in a restaurant, but it actually works.  Makes you feel like you’re one of the rat pack.  As if later we will smoke whiskey and drink cigars.  I digress…

We both started out with a salad, X ordered the Grilled Caesar.  Not only was it amazing to look at, it was delicious.  The romaine gently grilled, topped with plenty of parmesian, a creamy Caesar dressing, a light balsamic glaze drizzle, all topped with crispy buttery croutons.   My salad was the classic lettuce wedge, with blue cheese dressing, bacon bits, and sufficient crumbled blue cheese to offset the Bermuda onion. Everything was tender, fresh and flavorful – well balanced, no one flavor overwhelming any other taste.  My salad was delicious, every bite crunchy fresh crisp watery.  The dressing creamy and unctuous married perfectly with the crisp wetness of the iceberg, the salty savory bacon and musty blue cheese crumbles.

The main course:  We both had the bone in ribeye.  Although Bastien’s has numerous toppings for their steaks from their famous sugar rub, gorgonzola, crab, balsamic, jalapeno, black and tan, …  so many choices, so little time.  Every time I leave there I promise to try one of their creative styles, but I always resort to the classic grilled steak. Our steaks were both cooked to a perfect medium rare, as ordered.  The sides were steamed vegetables and a potato.  X had the twice baked and I had the baked with sour cream and butter.  I don’t know how a place can have the best baked potato, but Bastien’s are always spot on.  The kind of potato that makes you want to eat the skin crispy with butter. 

Service is perfect for this kind of joint.  No disingenuous spiel, no one over-serving/hanging about, just good, timely, polite and accurate service.  Glasses filled as needed, and drink orders taken as soon as our glasses were empty.   I wish I could add in desert, but there is never enough room for it.  The servings are plentiful, and although it’s a bit on the high end for a steak ($45), it’s a good value for the money.  I never leave here hungry and always have leftovers for breakfast the next day. 

Grilled Caesar and Blue Cheese Wedge

Atmosphere: 3.5

Service: 5

Quality of Food/Drink: 4

Value for your money: 4

Overall Impression (average of the above): 4.125

Recommended:  YES !  this is a solid B and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a good meal in a Denver landmark. 

Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar

Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar, 1514 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202

My buddy and I were cruising around on our scooters on a warm summer afternoon when we decided to stop into Hapa Sushi, for a beer and snack.  “X” opted for the Hapa beer on tap and I had a Sapporo, draft.  When you’re thirsty for a beer, having one of your favorites on tap is the best way to go.  It was cold, delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day.  Yay to fresh beer!  The place was quiet, with just a few people at tables scattered about, we sat at the corner of the bar.  It was about 2:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday. 

Hapa is centrally located in Downtown Denver in Lodo. They have a decent happy hour during the day, but also a late-night happy hour 10pm to Midnight, which is great for a late meal.  I always order my favorite things here and today was no exception, we ordered a few appetizers including the Colorado Style Hamachi (yellowtail). Seven fresh and buttery slices of tender yellowtail sashimi in a bright citrus yuzu soy sauce, each piece served with slivers of fresh jalapeños, and a single cilantro leaf. It’s pretty and tasty.  The flavors go together perfectly with a little bit of wasabi. The creamy fresh fish is cut by the citrus, the sweet, salt and heat balance it out perfectly.    

If I were rating this restaurant for flavor on this dish alone I’d rate it a five… Unfortunately, we also had a white tuna roll and Jay had a seafood salad. The white tuna roll was underwhelming way too much rice to fish ratio. Tasted dry and sticky without much fish flavor. I think the chef rolling rolls on this specific day was an amateur. The seaweed Salad was predominantly a bed of salad greens topped with about a tablespoon of seaweed salad.  Service (on this day) was mediocre. It was a Sunday afternoon, in Lodo maybe I shouldn’t expect so much.  Downtown tends to be pretty isolated on a Sunday.  Our bartender was young, not super experienced as a bartender, or knowledge of the menu.  There was a guy behind the bar who looked like he had a rough night, or perhaps rough weekend.  Sloppy, unshaven, gracing the restaurant with full on open mouth yawning.  He kind of looked like a full-grown infant who did the walk of shame straight into work.  I don’t really want to see you lean against the bar I’m sitting at, scratching your belly, yawning behind your mask as if you’re in your living room.  Decorum definitely lacking, but it wont keep me from going back.  It’s reliably fresh fish, good sushi.  In this time of Covid-19, restauranteurs are having difficulty retaining qualified and experienced staff, therefore I’m issuing a 1 point covid-19 handicap for service. The environment is soft-swanky, high ceilings, high top tables, a small street front sitting area, typical bistro style dining.   

Atmosphere: 4, great for casual meal, nothing fancy. 

Service: 3

Quality of Food/Drink: 3

Value for your money: 3 

Overall Impression:  3.25, a solid C

Recommended: Yes!  Service is hit and miss depending on the day/night you come.  Food is reliable and fresh with some creative dishes and sauces, the space is more on the casual side, so not recommended for first dates if you’re trying to make an impression. 

Blush & Blu

Gay / Lesbian Bar, lounge

1526 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80218

Review Date: 7/18/2021

There’s a long tradition of the relationship between bartender and patron.  I haven’t been in Blush & Blu in a couple of years, but found myself on a Saturday afternoon, parched, thirsty for a beer.  It was a bit crowded, but not overly so, several bartenders behind the bar.  I grabbed a seat front and center, the gal who took my order was unfriendly and a grifter.  I ordered a beer, she held her hand up to indicate $5 for the beer.  I lifted mine said hello.  No smile, no greeting, nothing.  She matter-of-factly said $5.  I handed her my card and enjoyed my beer.  A few minutes later she handed a younger bartender a margarita and said give this away, it was a mistake.  The younger bartender was handing me the margarita as we discussed what was in it.  The rude bartender grabbed the drink and handed it to another patron down the way, saying to the younger gal, they’ll like it.  Her service (or lack of) felt rude and dismissive, once again.  I asked for my tab and the total for my one beer was $4.  So… she was not only rude but increasing the price of my beer initially.  Her POS system obviously has my beer priced at $4, but she wanted to charge me $5.  Was she grifting a $1?  Was she thinking I’d pay cash and she’d just pocket the extra dollar and whatever tip I decided to add on?  F’n rude and a grifter.  I’m really sick of bad service, even if it’s just a $5 beer, I want to know my money and patronage is appreciated, respected.  It’s not about the $1, it’s about the principal on top of the rude service.  I don’t need to go into a place to be treated like crap by a person who is slinging cheap cocktails on east Colfax.  There aren’t many gay bars for women in Denver, unfortunately bartenders like her give the business a bad name, bad experience, and a bad review.  In the end I tipped her 50% on the beer, because in spite of my bad experience, I don’t let crappy people dictate my behavior, but I’ll likely not go there any time soon. Unless you fit the parameters of what this chick thinks is a worthy customer, expect her to be a rude grifter.

Atmosphere: 4,

Service: 1

Quality of Food/Drink: 4, the bud was nice and cold on a hot day

Value for $: 4

Overall Impression: 3.25

Recommended: Yes, but hesitantly. Chances are the owner goes through lots of staff, so I’ll try not to hold it against the place that one bartender with a bad attitude offended me. There are lots of other places I’d go for a drink first though.

Boba King

Bubble Tea, Coffee, Juice Bar

Boba King8414 Farm Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89131

Review Date: 2/16/2021

Boba King Centennial Hills is the best!  5 beverages, each superbly fabulous, delicious!  2 Taro pudding in taro milk slushy were out of this world, the lychee coco was amazing in black milk tea, coconut milk slushy & Thai milk tea were the best also; the Boba pearls were perfectly soft — outshined everywhere we’ve ever had Boba including even in Taiwan & in Hawaii!  The guys behind the counter gave excellent customer service, very friendly, an awesome experience!

Atmosphere: 2.5 It’s clean, take out kind of place, reminiscent of a basic stripmall ice cream joint. It was during Covid isolation, so only took to go.

Service: 4

Quality of Food/Drink: 4

Value for $: 4

Overall Impression: 3.6

Recommended: Yes!

100% de Agave

Mexican Restaurant and Bar

975 Lincoln St
Denver, CO 80203

Review Date: 7/28/2017

Food good, service average, prices a bit high.  Typical for Denver “white people” tiny tacos for $$$.  Only had tacos, the rest of the menu looks pretty good.  The reason for only 1 star service?  There’s a camera in the women’s bathroom.  When I asked the waiter why, he first denied it then he said it was because people were doing drugs in the bathroom.  WTF, even though there are still private stalls (maybe ~ cannot be sure), there’s never a reason to have a camera in the bathroom.  F’n pervs.  I will not be going back, don’t need to be spied on when doing my business, even if all they can see is what we’re doing in the mirror, sink, etc., it’s none of you’re damn business.

Atmosphere: 3 – nice downtown spacious place, cool decor

Service: 1 – camera in the women’s bathroom, then denial and bs reasoning for camera.

Quality of Food/Drink: 2 – mediocre overpriced tacos (seems to be a trend in Denver)

Value for $: 2, pricy for what you get

Overall Impression: 2

Not recommended – no need to say more

Denver Deep Dish Pizza

Name changed to Crush Pizza

1200 W 38th Ave
Denver, CO 80211

Review Date: 1/23/2016

When they first opened I was very excited to have a deep dish place in the Northside.  Initially the pizza was decent, even good, but the last couple of times I’ve gone it has been a disappointment.  So much so that I’ll never give it another try.  The staff is usually pretty drunk toward the later hours and the quality of the food seems to be suffering from either cutbacks in the kitchen, low quality ingredients, or maybe the kitchen staff are as drunk as the front of house.  I have dined in, but usually pick up for takeout due to the inhospitable atmosphere.  Not terrible, just more cafeteria than what I’m looking for in a dining out experience for dinner.  Once when I called in an order from the airport, and I still had to wait an hour after I drove 35 minutes from the airport to the restaurant for them to produce 1 deep dish pizza.  The deep dish pizza I had recently:  really sucked.  I like a deep dish with lots of ingredients, especially meat.  My last order was sausage, peperoni, mushroom and fresh mozz. The pizza came with very little of the additional ingredients I ordered.  When I’m paying per added ingredient, I’m not expecting the quantity of the others to be diminished, I’m expecting more to be added on.  Plus because I ordered fresh mozz, the traditional mozz was not included in the pie, which resulted in a very un-cheesy pizza.  F’n yuck.  

Overall the quality also sucked, not delicious ingredients, rather they were flat, over processed flavorless meats.  The first time I dined here I had the smoked wings, which were really good, however the recent order I had were rubbery and undercooked.  So much that I had to cook them more at home the next day, which did not help the rubbery factor at all.  I’m not even sure how real chicken can have this rubbery texture, but they are downright gross and ended up in the trash.  Basically when I’m paying $30 for a pizza, I expect quality, taste and texture and deliciousness .  Sad this place has declined, wake up owners, drunk staff aren’t your friends or family, they’re employees – employees who are ruining your opportunity to run a good business.  If you’re saving money on inferior ingredients because business has declined, maybe you’re looking at the wrong issue.

Atmosphere: 2 – open, loud cafateria sports bar without the charm

Service: 1 – drunk aint fun from a server

Quality of Food/Drink: 1

Value for $: 1

Overall Impression: 1.25

Not recommended. Too many great pizza joints in Denver to waste your time or money.

Fire on the Mountain

3801 W 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 80211

Review Date: 6/12/2013

Awesome…wings and fries. Tons of flavorful sauces to choose from and their ranch and blue cheese dips are the real deal. Blue cheese just like my mother used to make. I’ve read some of negative posts, on line, and I totally disagree. First of all, if you want to eat veggies, eat veggies.  Don’t try to make a vegetable into a chicken.

Secondly, the wings are small because they’re not full of growth hormones ~ Its red bird chicken, which is why they’re small and delicious.  In addition, the fact that most people don’t care what type of chicken they eat, there’s no demand for healthy chicken (like red bird), therefore the price is higher.  

When more people start to care about the treatment of the food they consume the demand will drive the price down.  In the meantime people like me will pay the premium because its worth it to have fresh, natural Colorado chicken that’s done well by Fire on the Mountain folks.

Recommended: Yes.

Atmosphere: 2, it’s a small loud counter with a few tables and tiny bar. Best to take out, or sit in the patio if possible. It borders on fast food type place, not really set up for comfort dining.

Service: 3 – mostly run by young adults, who are not really into the whole customer service thing, and they’re super busy so it often feels rushed. I’ve had a few issues with my call in orders not being correct. The one time I had to call the manager, He gave me a gift card equivalent to my purchase for next time.

Quality of Food/Drink: 5 – I have to be honest though, I only ever order wings and French Fries, which are excellent.

Value for $: 5 – It’s on the pricy side for wings, but worth the quality.

Overall Impression: 3.75

Recommended: Yes

Old Major

American Wine Bar & Steakhouse

3316 Tejon St
Denver, CO 80211

Review Date: 6/11/2013

Pretentious ~ people and food.  I’m getting really tired of the trendy restaurants where the staff act like they are doing you a favor.  The fair was hit and miss and very pricey for what you get.  Nice conversion of the space into a pub, but the air is thick with snobbery. Wake up people there are plenty of really good restaurants to choose from, and you are not so unique that you do not have to try (or try too hard) . Overall an odd  experience. Next time you deliver the food, try not to put your fingers in my plate as you describe what I ordered.  You can explain just as well describe from six inches away as you can with your finger practically probing my steak. Good value, and food was delicious. Just an fyi to the service: good manners and customer service, sincere customer service, not phoney bs, is what will win repeat business.

Atmosphere: 4, cool, fun, trendy.

Service: 1

Quality of Food/Drink: 4

Value for $: 4, pricy but very good.

Overall Impression: 3.25

Yes, I would recommend giving them and I’d give them another try. Perhaps the service end of things have improved.

Hacienda Colorado

Hacienda Colorado

Mexican restaurant and bar

4100 E Mexico Ave
Denver, CO 80222

Review Date: 2/22/2013

Mediocre at best.  This food sucks, and is a poor excuse for Mexican food.  Tastes and smells like taco bell and lacks any real flavor. I would guess the majority of their food comes from a can or is pre-packaged elsewhere.  It’s a shame, because good Mexican food is so easy to make fresh and homemade.  Dont waste your time, money, or health.  There are plenty of good restaurants in Denver to find good Mexican food ~ this is not one of them.

Atmosphere: 2.5, its a nice large cafateria style restaurant, and has nice Mexican style decor.

Service: 2

Quality of Food/Drink: 1

Value for $: 1

Overall Impression: 1.6

Not Recommended

Sushi Hai

3600 W 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 80211

Review Date: 4/22/2012

Worst sushi place in Denver.  Food:  mediocre at best/ bad and dangerous at worst.  Service:  very bad, rude, (middle class uppity b.s. – give me a break please).  The worst:  green lipped mussels were served on broken shells.  Didn’t notice the shell was broken until the mussel was in my mouth with the most horrible flavor.  As I was with friends, I swallowed, even though my impulse was to spit.  Two of the five mussels on the Green Lipped Appetizer were on severely cracked shells.  One shell almost halved.  This can only mean one of two things:  1) they are reusing the shells and placing the mussel on with topping on the shell for service (using broken shells), or 2) the chef is serving broken and likely dead mussels, which is highly dangerous.  As I write this, I’m hoping that I don’t get sick.  The rest of the sushi was below average, something you’d expect to get in a grocery store counter.  Service wise:  we were sat in a lower level dining room, Sunday afternoon, 4:45ish.  The dining room was empty, with the exception of one couple.  We were sat at a table right next to the couple.  Before we sat, I requested a booth across the room.  We were told they were all reserved.  After 90 minutes, only one booth was being sat as wer were finishing.  I’d like to say only the hostess was rude, but the other staff were equally rude.  Our waitress:  rude/unfriendly, not knowledgeable about sushi, rattled off the incorrect items we ordered as she pointed to the fish.  The soft shell crab and another tempura roll were served cold, tempura soggy and cold; tuna, hamachi, sticky, not fresh, and underwhelming.  No offer for desert or anything else before dropping our check, even though we were celebrating a birthday.  Generally service:  just blah.  Two of us have fine dining background, and three of us food connoisseurs, and appreciators of sushi.  Although I’ve had sushi in coastal towns around the world, it is not unreasonable to expect quality sushi in Denver, as a matter of fact, we have had good quality sushi here, only not in this hyped up mediocre sushi bar, which happens to be in a good location.    Don’t waste your time, risk your health, or give these idiots your money.

Atmosphere: 3 – cool space, lots of interesting rooms below ground

Service: 1

Quality of Food/Drink: 1

Value for $: 1

Overall Impression: 1.5

Recommended: No.

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