The last time I was in Denver, I had the good fortune to dine at Bistro Vendome in Larimer Square of chef/co-owner Jennifer Jasinski. I liked Bistro Vendome so much I decided to visit another of Jennifer Jasinski restaurants, Roija with my parents. She is also involved in Euclid Hall and Stoic & Genuine which I plan to visit in the future. Roija shows “meticulously thought-out” Mediterranean-inspired dishes which her “courteous” staff “presents like artwork” alongside an “extraordinary wine list” at this “cosmopolitan Larimer Square gem”. Passion, creativity and attention to detail are the engines that drive any restaurant. Executive Chef/Owner Jennifer Jasinski and General Manager/Owner Beth Gruitch lead the team at Rioja along with Chef de Cuisine, Tim Kuklinski. Since opening in late 2004, the Larimer Square room has drawn a steady stream of accolades and landed on numerous “best of” lists. Jennifer Jasinski, who was a rising star in the Wolfgang Puck empire before earning raves heading Panzano in Denver, solidified her status when she and business partner Beth Gruitch launched Rioja. Jennifer Jasinski was the Winner of The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Southwest 2013, a very big culinary honor.
The current Cromwell Casino has a long and interesting Las Vegas history. Bugsy Siegel opened The Flamingo Hotel & Casino at a total cost of $6 million on December 26, 1946 right next door. Billed as “The West's Greatest Resort Hotel,” the 105-room property and first luxury hotel on the Strip. He refused to buy the thin slice of land separating the Flamingo from the famous intersection of Flamingo and the strip. The Flamingo became the Flamingo Hilton in 1971 and the Flamingo Las Vegas in 1999. The thin slice of land was the site of Empey's Desert Villa from 1952. Over time, this property, along with others owned by Gaughan would become “The Barbary Coast”. In July 2005, the Barbary Coast was bought by Boyd Gaming and sold to Harrah's Entertainment in 2007, rebranded as Bill's Gamblin Hall and Saloon. Plans announced in late 2013 indicated that Giada De Laurentiis would open her first restaurant in the new hotel and that Caesars would run the hotel. The 260-seat restaurant, Giada, from De Laurentiis, her first such venture has taken over the second-floor space that once housed a hotel parking garage. Giada is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offer views of the Strip, the Bellagio fountains, Caesars Palace and Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops. Along with the venerable after hours club Drai's, Giada forms the the nucleus of offerings at the Cromwell. It doesn't hurt that the second floor Giada has killer views of the Bellagio fountains with floor to ceiling windows.