Poor Richard's Restaurant
324½ N. Tejon St., 578-5549, poorrichardsdowntown.com
Last fall, Poor Richard's back patio was transformed from a gravel pit full of green metal furniture to a slice of controlled countryside: Greenery, tables and columns fill a sunlight-dappled space, where a landscaped fountain burbles in the corner. It's a completely different vibe for the restaurant, matching what its sibling bookstore did with its reboot.
The Homemade Lasagna ($7.95, plus 75 cents for sausage) is equally engaging, though in my order the requested meat either failed to show or failed to place. Still, warm, firm layers of pasta came filled with grilled button mushrooms, long leaves of spinach, a mild sauce, and pockets of salty ricotta and Parmesan cheese. A big, square hunk of garlic bread on the side tore easily into soft, moist shreds. The Hot Turkey Jack ($7.95) on toasted rye offered a lot less, altogether too simple and quiet. — Bryce Crawford
Ruffrano's Heavenly Squeeze Juice Bar
10 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-4388
With Heavenly Squeeze, we welcome the third juice outfit to our area — joining Nourish Organic Juice and Ola Juice Bar — in about as many months. Why now? We have no idea, especially given the ease of juicing at home — though, granted, you're unlikely to spend the $2,500 that Nelson Rufran, also the owner of neighboring Hell's Kitchen Pizza, spent on his fancy Norwalk 280 juice press.
It pumped out a potent Transfusion ($5.95/16 ounces) for me, consisting of beet, lemon, apple, spinach and carrot bloods, which I promptly destroyed with a scoop of "green powder" (50 cents extra, and actually Dr. Bernard Jensen's Whole Life Food Blend) and a shot of wheat grass ($2.50). Yes, it was kind of like sucking down pond scrapings, but I relished the healthfulness like a yuppie, elitist scumbag, already detoxing as I drove off. — Matthew Schniper
4820 Flintridge Drive, 598-3428, lnepal.com
Co-owners Muku Bhandari and Raj Adhikari, branching out from their popular Eighth Street location, spent weeks overhauling this former Taste of India spot, and it shows in the beautiful dining area. They've brought with them the same menu and buffet hours, which obviously offer the most meal for the money. At dinner I nab the Lamb Korma ($16.95), stellar garlic naan ($2.50) and a nicely non-sweet rosewater-essence lassi ($3.25), plus a Chakra beer ($5) that tastes like every other Indian brew I've tried, which is to say light and crisp. The Korma, a dish with 500 years of history, is a stunner: Indian tomato gravy and onions are stewed with heavy cream and coconut milk laced with gingery curry notes, a multifaceted mix of floral cardamom, cinnamon, coriander and more imbuing the soft meat. It's the kind of dining ecstasy that makes one wonder why Indian cuisine hasn't fulfilled total world domination. — Matthew Schniper