A new way to bring home the bacon

Column by Penny Parker


Denver newbie Tender Belly is bellying up to the food bar to showcase its pork products. If you haven't porked out on their products, you're missing a sweet treat.

Tender Belly is a Cinderella story with brothers Erik and Shannon Duffy, who were born and raised in Iowa, where farmers created the gold standard of pork. While not farmers themselves, they come from a farming family, dedicated to the land and hard work.

Entrepreneurial fires burned in both, along with a broad set of professional skills and most importantly, a love for good, pure, clean food and making the simple things, extraordinary. In 2010 they joined forces and started Tender Belly. Their business was an immediate hit — the lure of tasty bacon and other outstanding pork products was too good for chefs to pass up.

If you're hankering for Tender Belly pork products, you will find them at Cured: www.curedboulder.com/; Lucky's Market: www.luckysmarket.com; The Truffle Cheese Shop: www.denvertruffle.com; or Tony's Markets: www.tonysmarket.com.

You can also check out Tender Belly products at www.tenderbelly.com.

Selby goes solo

If you don't know where Jefferson Park is, now is a good time to figure that out because Corner House, located in this Northwest area, finally opened its doors last week.

The anticipation has been building since November when chef Matt Selby, then at Vesta Dipping Grill, announced that this casual neighborhood eatery would be his next venture, according to EaterDenver.com.

Since November, there were interviews with Selby, construction updates, space and menu previews, and even a spot on the Eater National 40 Most Anticipated Openings of 2013 for Corner House. Now it is open and will serve a small but carefully crafted menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Restaurants booked for Denver Restaurant Week(s)

Hoping for a 7 p.m. reservation at Barolo Grill, Elway's Cherry Creek or Ocean Prime during Denver Restaurant Week(s)? Prime time seats at those foodie favorites are filled.

The menus for the 9th Annual Denver Restaurant Week(s) — Feb. 23 to March 8 — went live at www.denverrestaurantweek.com recently, and many of the most popular spots were “fully committed” (restaurant speak for “you're out of luck, pal”) before the end of the work day with the exception of early (5 p.m.) or late (after 9) reservation slots.

But with more than 300 restaurants already participating in the event that charges $52.80 per couple ($26.40 for one) for a three-course meal, there are plenty of eateries to go around. But, if you snooze, you lose. One way to check reservation availabilities is to go to www.opentable.com.

“The great fun of restaurant week is gathering together friends, exploring the hundreds of menus on the website, and then experimenting and trying new restaurants or revisiting old favorites,” said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of Visit Denver, the owner and organizer of the event.

More than 300 restaurants have already signed up to participate in 2013 with more coming on board every day.

“We will continue to post menus on the site as we get them from the restaurants, so it pays to check the site frequently,” Scharf said.

While the event continues to grow — with 339 restaurants participating last year, Denver broke all records for restaurant weeks across the country — some beloved fine dining spots opted out this year.

Perhaps most notably, was the decision by Bonanno Concepts, the restaurant company owned by chef Frank Bonanno, to “86″ its two white tablecloth spots, Mizuna and Luca d'Italia, from the Denver Restaurant Week(s) menu.

Other lower priced Bonanno Concepts restaurants — Osteria Marco, Russell's Smokehouse, Lou's Food Bar and Bones (which are all wonderful) — are still part of the program.

“Frank gives his chefs freedom when it comes to menu creation and events, and the chef teams at Mizuna and Luca d'Italia have decided to decline participation in this year's Denver Restaurant Week because they simply prefer to run business as usual,” said Lauren Hendrick, PR and marketing coordinator for Bonanno Concepts. “It's really as simple as that.”

A new feature on the www.denverrestaurantweek.com website allows diners to share their “Must-Dine” lists with their friends on Facebook, giving them yet another way to make their plans.

Based on surveys, a record 404,400 meals were served during DRW 2012, up 12 percent over the 360,480 total meals served in 2011. Website traffic at the DRW site saw 7 million page views in 2012.

Scharf encouraged diners to make reservations early, but sent a word of warning to “no shows.”

“Please honor your reservations,” he said. “One of the most frustrating things about the event is when people make a reservation, and don't show up, denying other diners that time slot. Don't be a no-show! Please notify the restaurant if your plans change so they can fill that table.”

And, on another note, please remember to tip your server on the real bill's total, not just on the discounted $52.80 price tag. Mangia!

Business networking in Westminster

The Women's Business Network will hold an open house for all business women in the north Metro Denver area from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westminster.

The event is designed to encourage businesswoman to connect with other professional women in a non-routine setting. At the Open House, guests will learn about the Women's Business Network and the ways in which the members support each other on an exclusive basis.

The event is free of charge, and you can RSVP on the WBN website, www.wbncolorado.com.

WBN will offer drinks and appetizers, and all guests are encouraged to invite a colleague from another female-based business. Men who wish to learn more about the WBN on behalf of their female colleagues are welcome to attend.

Penny Parker's “Mile High Life” column gives insights into the best events, restaurants, businesses, parties and people throughout the metro area. Parker also writes for Blacktie-Colorado.com. She can be reached at penny@blacktie-llc.com or at 303-619-5209.


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