My daughter, Lauren, and I have made the decision to embark on an Odyssey of sorts-a foodie exploration of Denver’s dining hot spots. And then occasionally blog about them.
Lauren will captain the ship. I’m just along for the ride; get me further than two blocks from my office at I-25 and Colorado and I’m out to sea.
By rights, her half-Korean husband, Haden, should be first mate and navigator. A car guy, his sled can probably drive itself to most of the chichi Asian restaurants around town. And, once there, he can expertly guide other wayfarers through the seemingly endless menu choices. But, someone has to work-you know, the curse of the laboring class.
Our fellow Argonauts will be Lauren’s daughters, Bridget, nearly 3, and Caroline, almost 1. They’re an important part of the crew. Bridget to make sure the mac and cheese and chicken tender offerings are shipshape. And Caroline to make sure that scraps of food eaten directly off the table aren’t the culinary equivalent of walking the plank.
We went to Yellow Belly Chicken on the site of the old Stapleton Airport the other day. Tucked in just north of Colfax in the Stanley Marketplace, a cavernous former hanger. I, of course, was clueless of both the location and the cuisine.
But, as a native Denverite, I do know something about Stapleton Airport. When I was a kid, my dad was a traveling salesman. And I mean TRAVELING. I don’t know how many United Airlines 100,000 Mile Club plaques hung from the knotty pinewood paneling in our basement-but it was a alot. And when he got home at the end of the week, it was a big deal.
Mom would pile us four kids into the 1957 Cadillac sedan, head north on Monoco to 32nd (now Martin Luther King Boulevard), go east past Quebec, and glide up to the passenger terminal. On the way, a quarter mile to the north and behind a chain link fence, was the Stanley Aviation hanger. Apparently parked at random between the fence and the hanger was a flotilla of private, general aviation prop planes. It was an adventure.
Especially when dad, with his million dollar smile, came through the self-opening doors of the terminal carrying his brushed aluminum suitcase. It must have weighed a ton. He’d put it in the trunk, trade places with mom, and off we’d go.
I would take up my usual station, standing behind him and looking over his right shoulder. Before we were off the airport property, he’d push in the electric cigarette lighter and fire up a Kent-the one with the famous Micronite Filter. I’d savor the first whiff of smoke as it came off the faintly pink glow of the lighter; after that, the smell was good, but not great. (Now, I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes. And, as you know, it’s very rarely encountered in a state where cigarettes are seen as something like the unforgivable sin-and marijuana shops were on every other corner as I drove along Colfax after lunch.)
So how did our merry crew fare at Yellow Belly? Well, to be frank, sort of like the second pressing of my dad’s cigarette smoke: good, but not great. Bridget’s chicken tenders and mac and cheese were gobbled up with little prompting. I pushed Caroline out of the restaurant in her stroller with no apparent ill-effects from the table scraps. But my fried chicken thighs were on the greasy side, although the brussel sprouts slaw was just fine.
But the highlight of this port of call? A guilty pleasure: the dark chocolate milk shake that I shared with Lauren at Sweet Cow, an ice-cream joint in the mall and just around the corner from Yellow Belly. Bridget enjoyed both her single dip sugar cone and romping on the Bouncy Cow in the kids’ corral.
So, on we sail across the wine dark sea until we arrive at our next culinary harbor. Stay tuned.