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Side Dish: IRC dinners revamped, Another Pint closes, Mandarin Bistro expands

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The IRC returns

As with many a restaurant romance (waiter enamors cook, bartender woos hostess ... pick your dynamic), the Colorado Springs Independent Restaurant Cooperative (see revamped Facebook page) has been on-again, off-again in recent years. The passion — owner-operator independence with sustainable leanings — and people have always been there, but regular wine dinners and the like have been sparse.

Enter 2013 and a breath of new life, thanks in part to member Dave Brackett. His Pizzeria Rustica hosted an IRC dinner Jan. 30, introducing a fresh format of three tasting plates paired with either wine or beer for $39 plus tax/tip. Brackett's other business, TAPAteria, will host Wednesday, Feb. 27, followed by MoZaic in March, Margarita at PineCreek in April and McCabe's Tavern in May.

Reservations should be made with host outfits, and a full 2013 calendar should be available soon on the Facebook page.

Brews news

As reported late last week by Focus on the Beer, Another Pint (13860 Gleneagle Drive, anotherpint.net) has closed. Co-owner Tony Hockemeyer notes in a statement that "it turned out to be too much to bounce back from past mistakes" and that he hopes to stay in the industry, perhaps as a beer rep.

Focus was also first on the scene regarding the recent sale of Brewer's Republic (112 N. Nevada Ave., 633-2105) to its neighbor, the Underground. The Colorado-centric, rare-craft-beer emphasis will remain in place, but subtle changes already include the addition of a fine whisky and scotch selection. Also look for a little more love for out-of-state and international beers, plus continued "tap takeovers" by respected area breweries, such as Fort Collins' Equinox Brewing.

À la carte

Mandarin Bistro (1831 Briargate Blvd., 532-0110) has expanded into an additional dining room (at 1833 Briargate Blvd.), adding a new menu under the banner Tropix Hawaiian BBQ. An employee clarifies that the two businesses are one, and that guests can order any of the Chinese, Thai and Hawaiian-style items (such as Spam musubi and mahi mahi) inside the space.

The Parked Pierogi (292 State Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, 210-7029) recently added a vegetarian menu to its offerings as well as a monthly five-course wine- or beer-paired dinner. Its V-Day event is sold out; March's theme will be Irish food.

• The Colorado Springs Chorale's 28th annual Chefs' Gala & Silent Auction is set for Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Antlers Hilton (4 S. Cascade Ave., cschorale.org). Fundraising tickets are $75, gaining you access to luxurious sampling from more than 20 area fine-dining outfits. One thing for which to watch: The Broadmoor's chefs will compete for a third consecutive Best in Show victory.

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