Thursday, February 6, 2003
It was a late night two weeks ago and I was standing on the steps of the Old Town Pub, passing a cigarette around with friends who usually become smokers at that hour. The band was winding down and we were looking for the next place to dance and talk and otherwise pass out our paychecks.
"I wonder what's going on at Mambo Italiano?" someone asked.
"You want to go hang out at an Italian restaurant?"
The conversation continued about the wonders of the new place and me saying something like, "The word needs to get out."
Everyone looked at me in shock.
"Autumn. The word's already out."
So, as latecomers on "the scene," two friends and I waddled into Mambo Italiano Sunday night to see what all the hoopla was about.
We were exhausted after a weekend of moving all my belongings into a new house and the whiskey revelry of saying goodbye to fellow reporter Doug Crowl, so we rather gracelessly slumped into three bar stools at the Mambo bar and ordered a cheap bottle of Chianti.
The place was packed and newcomers were spilling out the door onto a waiting list.
The owners had gutted what was once the Alpine Bistro down the center, creating a straight shot from the window on Lincoln to the back of the restaurant, separated only by an archway.
It feels like two dining cars on a luxury train speeding toward the Routt County Courthouse.
As soon as we sat at that bar, we were leaving Steamboat. Fast.
The decor is Euro, hipster sidestreet, martini bar -- the only difference is that you can't smoke, American style.
With no art on the yellowed walls, the atmosphere is ambiguous enough that everyone seemed to feel comfortable, from the usual downtown barflies to tables of business-class pasta-eaters.
We settled into our usual, "Surely there is a decent man in this town, we just haven't met him yet" and "What was Mulholland Drive really about" discussions when the strangest thing happened.
The music switched to Frank Sinatra and the cook burst from the kitchen with his arms in the air, belting, "New York, New York."
He had a stage stride and a reverberating voice that told us, "Tragic circumstance ripped me away from the latest production of 'Chicago' and I've been slaving away in the kitchen."
The bartender, Rick, told us that the singer was a pizza maker, tossing dough behind the scenes, but the more we listened to him sing (the guy has talent) I'm convinced that if he's a cook then Jerry Springer's guests aren't actors.
We forgot our "Who do you think Trista will choose on 'The Bachelorette'?" conversation and switched to "Who is this guy and what is he doing in Steamboat?"
And "Yeah. Frank Sinatra. I'd date him."