Denver >Food & Dining > Chi Bistro
1066 S Gaylord St, Denver, CO | Directions 8020939.696692 -104.961494
Neighborhoods: Washington Park, Southeast Denver
Absolutely Horrible – I chose this restaurant for our Father's Day brunch because it had a good rating and mostly good reviews. It was terrible. They were out of high chairs although there were only two in use in the whole restaurant. The hostess was not apologetic and failed to offer our child crayons even though they had given them to the many other children in the restaurant. They were out of ham for the special brunch menu eggs benedict. My eggs benedict came with hollandaise sauce when I had ordered the citrus sherry sauce. My first two bites contained eggshells. My daughter's macaroni and cheese had a hair in it. It was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese straight from the box, not a trace of real cheese in it. The bloody marys tasted good but had trace alcohol. They waiter was nice but forgetful or overwhelmed I am not sure which. I would never return to this restaurant and I dehort anyone else from going. It wss a huge disappointment for our supposedly special Father's Day Brunch.
skimpy with 1/2 scallop and 2 shrimp – I had the asian bouillabaisse. The soup part was delicious with just the right zing. When I got to the seafood part, I found only 1/2 of a sea scallop, 2 medium shrimp and a few bits of other fish. There was some canned pineapple, pieces of bread, fennel. It was all very good, but how greedy can a restaurant get when they cut a scallop in half! By the way, this was on the entree list.
Often tasty, Mismanaged, Lacks Detail – I want to love Chi Bistro, but after four dinner dates it is not a love match. Cute and immature staff that is poorly trained, matched by wildly uneven procedures. I'm not shy about speaking up when I need something, but it's beyond annoying to be met with a petulant look. On the upside, three of my four dinners were excellent, but only one was hot. Twice the Rib Eye was perfect and cooked as ordered. The Pork Loin Chop was overcooked and dry. Overall, the menu lends itself to occasional diners. The best menus have SMALL twists on simple food, but many of the menu items at Chi have numerous twists which makes it hard to select or imagine how it will taste.
Back to the staff: Some great looking, very hip kids; but sometimes water arrives, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the table set-up is complete, sometimes it isn't. When there are only four parties in the room, don't seat us in one cluster. Timing from the kitchen is a problem when there's a wait for starters and the entree arrives on top of them -- that happens at Denny's and shouldn't at Chi. The immediate bread/water/drink order at Wash Park Grille helps stem the time from seating to ordering.
The room: I greatly admire what has been done with this former Mexican restaurant. It used to be dark, disorganized and cramped. However, there doesn't yet seem to be a lighting level that has been decided on, gels on the lights would help immeasurably (who wants white quartz light on everything besides a KGB interrogator). Dividing the room with thoughtful scrims or panels for more privacy at tables would add a sense of discovery, which is missing since the entire room is visible from the street.
Chi Bistro is ALMOST what South Gaylord needs, but misses the mark on detail. I have never seen the restaurant full and can't imagine what the staff would do if that happened. I guess they'd have to move from their private party at the end of the bar. Mismanagement and poor training are Chi's two biggest problems.
It tries too hard to be something it's not – We were planning on going to Wash Park Grille, but decided we would give Chi Bistro a try. Mistake.
The food was okay, but not memorable. They were out of several items on the menu, including their "signature" crab stack. The service was just plain bad, even on a Wednesday night. The maitre d' and wait staff looked like they had just stumbled out of their dorm rooms without a thought about how they looked. The lighting was harsh. The decor was like a hotel restaurant. Some guy was noodling around on a cheap keyboard. Black toilets - that says it all. This place is trying too hard to be a super-sexy-Miami-beautiful-people spot. It's not. We certainly won't be back. Wash Park Grille - 2 doors down - is much, much better for about the same $$.
I wanted to like this place but... – I really wanted to like Chi. It's in my neighborhood, I'm a huge fan of Asian and Asian-Influenced food and I just generally want people who have the courage to start a business to succeed. But Chi needs some help. (Note: I went during Restaurant Week so I won't comment on the service other than to say that the waitstaff was very nice and I would assume that during normal times the service is much better.)
I started with the Calamari. It was well cooked, not rubbery, and nicely garnished with some radish sprouts. The chili sauce beneath the calamari was not especially impressive because its the kind that's available for $2.99 a bottle at most Asian markets, but the flavor was complementary. The wasabi mayo dipping sauce was bland, in fact, I think most of the world is bored with wasabi mayo by now. I had the Pomegranate Glazed Duck over Linguine for an entree, which was a rather poorly conceived dish. The duck was good, well cooked with a bit of pink left inside and a nice salty-caramelized crunchy skin. But the linguine alfredo it was served over was positively terrible. The texture and flavor of the pasta totally detracted from the duck, and the pasta itself was terribly mushy and congealed. My date had the Pork Chops. It was a nicely presented dish, but the meat, which was supposed to be cooked medium, was completely overcooked. The sweet potato brulee was good, but not enough to save the sawdust pork. Dessert was ginger ice cream and a vanilla cheese cake, both were good, neither was spectacular.
Overall, Chi has potential because certain elements of each dish were good but as a whole things just didn't work. Maybe a little more Yin and a little less Yang...
An exceptional neighborhood gem... – We love this place!!! Cozy, friendly, and extremely good food! We have enjoyed quiet dinners for two and drinks/apps with 10 friends and have never been disappointed. Summer on the patio--fantastic!
Meh... – I took my boyfriend here because I'd always thought the place looked cute from the outside and have heard some good things about it. First of all, we were seated at this tiny table in the corner where I felt completely clausterphobic. I'm a vegetarian and I had a very difficult time with the meny so I ordered a noodle dish without the meat. Unfortunately it seems the meat was what made the dish because it was bland and pretty much pointless for me to eat...I still had to pay the full price however. The wine list was ok...and the service was average. I definitely wasn't impressed and wouldn't go there again.
Nothing Special – We recently ate lunch at Chi for the first time on a weekend. The restaurant, which used to be Las Margs, has the same great covered patio. The food was ok; we tried the calamari and the shrimp and avocado spring rolls, which were very skimpy on the shrimp. Our server never brought us appetizer plates or waters, and after our entrees came out we never saw him again. We split the chicken salad sandwich with fries for lunch, and again were not offered ketchup, salt or pepper (no condiments on the table). The portions were typical size and the food was fine, but combined with the service, which was friendly but unattentive, I would much rather go down the street to Wash Park Grille.
Editorial Review – Casually chic Washington Park restaurant serves New American food with Asian flair, ranging from Asian bouillabaisse to baby bok choy.
Very good food, lacking atmosphere – We thought the food was very good but they were out of several items so the server kept apologizing. We also heard other servers apologizing for things to the tables next to us so it was a little worrisome! The postcard showing the dining room we got on our door made the ambience look fantastic but it was a little stark when we arrived. Too brightly lit and nothing on the walls. I'm sure they will fix this but it was less than thrilling. The manager did visit or table to check on us and was very nice. The menu had lots of variety and in different price ranges so I would recommend this restaurant. We will wait a few months for some artwork and better atmosphere and certainly go back. The Tuna entree (nicoise style) was excellent.
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