China Town Restaurant
326 S. Nevada Ave., 632-5151, chinatown-restaurant.com
Our meal began with a handout of hot towels, delivered via chopstick, and a silver pot of free hot tea. The dining room is colorful and richly stylized, with portholes overlooking South Nevada Avenue, and packed on this day with a buzzing lunch crowd undoubtedly happy with prices that ought to run you less than a ten-spot out the door.
The quintessential average-Chinese-meal ensued, with entrées including a lightly fried, vegetable eggroll and cup of soup. We went with the hot-and-sour on the latter, a delicious, spicy, dark-brown broth with the unfortunate consistency of hair gel. The Double Cooked Pork ($5.95) brought dark-red pork chunks in a thick brown gravy over unadorned fried rice, while the Assorted Lo Mein ($6.25) sought the life aquatic under watery noodles, mushy meat and sodden shrimp. — Bryce Crawford
Mountain Grounds Coffee House
3315 W. Carefree Circle, 550-4758
Go for the Moto Blast ($5/20-ounce), an Oreo-shake-lookin' blender goodie comprised of milk, just enough Café Select vanilla powder, and whole espresso beans ground to granular flecks. Enjoy those in your teeth later as you reflect on the drink's addictive awesomeness. The Red Eye ($3.25/16-ounce) by contrast offers just the clean aromas and flavors of Colorado Coffee Merchants-roasted beans. It's like an Americano, but subs coffee for water atop the espresso shot, for a deep java experience.
Pastries from Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery are excellent: a fine brownie ($2), slice of airy, light double Belgian mousse chocolate cake ($4.25) and a cranberry white chocolate cookie tweaked with lemon extract ($1.75). Lastly, a barista's charm: "Hey, I see you writing stuff down. Write that I'm an extremely good-looking man if you're trying to remember us." — Matthew Schniper
Pateros Creek Brewing Co.
242 N. College Ave., Fort Collins, pateroscreekbrewing.com
Another Colorado brewery with new distribution in our marketplace, Pateros formerly contract-brewed at Loveland's Grimm Brothers (reviewed here last week) until it got its own space in 2011. Its Cache La Porter Brown Porter Ale (around $7.50/four 16-ounce cans) weighs in at 5 percent ABV, offering a micro take on the style best represented commercially by Fuller's London Porter and Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter.
Versus a bigger, sweeter Baltic Porter or more coffee-forward Robust Porter, the Brown is "mellow, smoother and chocolaty-er" says owner/brewer Steve Jones. He subs out a large percentage of the traditionally used dark malt for more chocolate and caramel malts, plus biscuit malt for light breadiness, using Fuggle and EKG hops (two of England's noble strains) for more aroma than bitterness. Stating the obvious: Buy if you like browns and porters. — Matthew Schniper