Jay Fox's Dining Guide

FOX: HAPPY HOLIDAYS AT THE HOLIDAY INN

“Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.” — Thomas Jefferson

SPORTING NEWS GRILL
HOLIDAY INN
7390 W. Hampden Ave, Lakewood
303-980-9200
www.hilakewood.com

Y’ALL KNOW THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER EAT in a hotel restaurant. Most all of ‘em have terrible servers serving terrible food from the terrible kitchen. I can think of maybe a half dozen exceptions in metro Denver, one of them being the Holiday Inn across from my office.

The first Holiday Inn I ever stayed at was in New Orleans’ French Quarter back in the late sixties. I remember well the day Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson strolled into the lobby and raised holly horrors six ways ‘til sundown. As best I can recall, the food was not edible. This location is the exception rather than the rule: very good food, very good service, and a comfortable setting. And lotsa brewskies and TVs for the sports enthusiast.

The Sporting News Grill was remodeled in the summer of 2008. GM Aaron Dexter relates a story about perfect timing. Across the street, Bennigan’s restaurant just closed its doors forever. The SNG was literally days away from reopening. Holiday Inn management hired the general manager of Bennigan’s to operate the new eatery. He brought a substantial number of staff with him to the new restaurant. Even with today’s high turnover in the hospitality industry, a half dozen staff are still at the Sporting News Grill. They must like working here.

The convenience of staying in this hotel has its advantages. When there’s a major sporting event, the hotel has the ability to open the banquet rooms that adjoin the restaurant, and serve lotsa folks great grub while watching the event. We’ve been there to watch an NBA playoff game and have dinner. I was sure that service in the banquet room was going to be cold food and bad service, but I sure was fooled. The food was terrific and our waitperson was terrific.

Cuz it’s convenient, I’m eating at the SNG lotsa days for lunch and somewhat frequently for dinner. They have maybe the best fish and chips in town, and if you order the house-made tartar sauce the dish is a clear winner. I even dip muh french fries in tartar sauce and I don’t care for either. The house made soups are as good as they get, particularly Friday’s Clam Chowder.

Lunch and dinner offer the same menu. There are mega munchies including buffalo chicken wings, sliders, fried mushrooms and a yummy spinach & artichoke dip. Almost a dozen “greens & bowls” include several soups and lotsa salads including a terrific Cobb salad and a Pan Asian chicken salad. If you’re really hungry and are dieting, the grilled sirloin steak salad should do you fine. Even pizza lovers can enjoy a meal here; there are three 12-inch pizzas on the menu. But sangies and dinners are heavy hitters here. Get that? Sporting News Grill and heavy hitterszz,/em>?? Oh, Phooey.

Sangies number a full dozen and entrees almost that. The burgers are great, especially when cooked a perfect medium rare. Actually, I order it rare and they think it’s rare but it’s really true medium rare: a warm, red center. If it comes a bit too rare, it can go back for a 30-second fix. But this is true in every restaurant that cooks burgers to order. No one has a clue what medium rare is when it comes to burgers. That’s cuz they’re used to cooking steaks that way and cuz of the density of the steak being different from burgers, a good steak griller will almost invariably overcook a burger.

You can even find a classic Monte Cristo here. Y’all remember? A blend of ham and turkey, American and Swiss cheese, on wheat bread, lightly battered, fried, and served with raspberry preserves. They also offer the classic French dip, the required club sangie, and a host of other goodies. Entrees include a yummy 12-ounce rib eye steak, a NY strip, grilled salmon, several chicken dishes, and even pasta. Don’t forget the afore mentioned fish and chips. Even dessert is good with a yummy apple pie leading the parade.

Just about everything is made in-house. The soups and salad dressings are made from scratch. With winter approaching, executive chef George Parker will be developing additional soups to please your palate. Soups change daily. You’ll find the daily soup, bar and food special on the chalkboard located at the front door. Ceptin there are two front doors; one leading in from the hotel lobby, and the other from the parking lot. Very confusing for us old folks. I do have a complaint. The portions of soup and salad are too large. A half salad will fill most of us up and still leave room for a doggie box. A bowl of soup is a meal for two and a half men.

The bar is full service, with all meals available at the bar or a bar table while watching one of many sporting events on the various televisions located throughout the dining room and the bar area. There are 16 high definition large screen TVs throughout the bar and dining room. You can watch some event from every seat. The hotel offers full banquet service, serving as many as 300 for an event.

The restaurant offers a punch card for frequent diners so be sure to ask for one if you plan on being a regular. Breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. during the week; 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekends. Lunch/dinner is served til 10 p.m. daily. The bar stays open later.

Did I mention breakfast? One of the biggest, bestest breakfast burritos in town. It’s good for at least two meals. The menu includes lotsa traditional fare with all kindsa eggs, omelets, skillets, pancakes and more. Check out the cinnamon supreme French toast. They even serve Rainforest Alliance Certified™ (ain’t you impressed) regular or decaf coffee.

And, if you just wanna watch an NBA or NFL game and have a brewski, they’re all here. Check out their website at www.hilakewood.com. Tell ‘em The Fox sentcha.

Cya.

Jay Fox is back to his eating ways. Catch up with his scoop on where to eat in his weekly columns. Or if you have any suggestions, you can contact him at jay@jayfoxcpa.com.