A peek into williamsworld

Denver Travel Blog

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Across the grill, is Me and William

I “met” William through TravBuddy. He (williamsworld) commented on my blog about attending a Rockies/Giants game and we discovered that we both had a love of baseball and a fond remembrance of Dusty Baker. Me, from his days with the Atlanta Braves. William, because he actually knows Dusty and followed him from his Dodger days forward.


When William let me know that he would be coming in from Texas, to for a trip through Colorado meeting up sounded like a good idea when proposed it. Now this is not something I usually do.

I only look drunk. I just water tonight!
I’m a wallflower kind of guy. The one standing alone waiting for someone to strike up the conversation. I’m the one thinking of excuse not to go the party. So to be honest, I’m not sure why I jumped at the idea of meeting a guy who I had never actually seen, and had exactly three prior message exchanges. Maybe, I’m getting soft in my old age. Maybe I thought we would take in a ball game. I checked, the Rockies were in town that night. Maybe I was just temporarily insane. Hey, if that guy can claim a Twinkie made him crazy, maybe I could use my ice cream addiction. Anyway, William was going to be town on Friday the 8th, around 6 PM. I had to work until 5 PM, so we set up a dinner appointment for 7 PM.  


After some thought about this whole idea I decided I needed to be brave, and hide behind my wife’s skirts.

Bravo's on the 16th Street Mall. William has a friend back home he calls Bravo.
I messaged William and asked him if he minded (is that a word?) if I brought along my wife. He, of course, didn’t care. She’s on TB, too (mkretzer). After she looked at me funny, when I explained what was going on, I also asked her if she had any thoughts on a restaurant. I thought about Maggianos, as I had always wanted to try it. But, Margo immediately suggested BD’s Mongolian Grill. We both like it, and it’s different. As she was going along with this, and not checking for signs of mental infirmary, I quickly agreed.


William and I smiled back and forth across TBs site for the next couple of weeks. Each of telling the other how much we were looking forward to it. And to tell the truth, I was. I have no idea why. Really. This was completely out of character for me (Did I mention that?), but still as the day got closer, I didn’t come to dread it, like I do for even the company Christmas party.

Second verse, same as the first.
I had no idea if we would click or hate each other on sight. Margo just thought I was nuts.


Friday arrived and we drove the 25 miles from Brighton to downtown Denver. I like the atmosphere of downtown, and especially the 16th Street Mall, where our restaurant was located. But, I hate to drive down there. First, I am directionally challenged. I don’t get lost, but I often turn the wrong way, notice the signs are all wrong, utter socially unacceptable words, and have to turn around. Second, downtown Denver, like most major cities, is littered with one way streets. That in itself is not too bad, but you couple it with having a pedestrian mall (the aforementioned 16th St Mall) and a 19th century road grid, with a 20th century road system built around it, and streets just disappear.


My strategy for downtown is one of two. I get within the general area of where I am going and take the parking lot I find. That can sometimes cause a lot of walking. Plan B is to rely on someone else and let them take the blame. Today was Plan B. Margo had more recently been to downtown and suggested at the Center for the Performing Arts garage. Why, I don’t know, nor did I really care. Once parked, I’m a happy camper. I walk everyday for exercise and downtown Denver is not that large. Plus the 16th St Mall has a free shuttle. So even though we parked at the exact wrong end of downtown, I was plenty happy.


So with a hop, skip and a jump, or more accurately a walk, trip, and a ride we soon arrived at the corner of Wazee and 16th St. BD’s Mongolian Grill is in between 16th and 17th on Wazee. As soon as we turned the corner we saw William and he saw us. We recognized each other almost instantly. He William pointed at me with a huge grin. Margo and I had smelled the restaurant from around the corner. It was intoxicating. William had also noticed and said ‘You picked a good one’. We shook hands and made for the door.


We had a reservation, but it wasn’t needed. Things hadn’t gotten hopping yet. We were seated and William began telling us about a Texas Mongolian place similar to BDs called Genghis Grill. It sounded very close to what we were about to have and William appeared very happy about it. Almost immediately William presented us with Texas (which is where he calls home) gifts. Margo got a coffee mug and I got a Texas size key chain. That was very nice of him and we were duly impressed.


We had almost time to talk before out waiter interrupted to find out if we knew how the system worked. We did, but he had his alternate speech to make, and when he got to point about “if there is anything I can do for you, let me know” William inquired, with a grin, about him paying off his credit card bill. It caught me off guard, but the waiter was even half a step behind me. But, after a little back and forth between the two of them, they had the idiosyncrasies of the English language (not saying “anything” if you don’t mean “anything”) settled and we headed to the buffet.


The way this restaurant works is you grab a bowl by the buffet set up. From there you fill it up with an assortment of meats and shrimp, pasta, and various vegetables. From there you move to the end of the buffet and get a ramekin and fill it with a sauce. From there you head over to the grill. The grill in this case is one of two large circular stones. You place your two bowls up on the bar in front, and the cook takes your food. He dumps your food on the stone with a flourish, and then with many machinations, twists, flips and turns of their cooking utensils, they cook your food in front of you. The sauce is added and soon they pour the finished product onto a plate and you are on you way.


Backing up to the “he dumps your food on the stone with a flourish” part, our cook was having just a tad too much fun and threw the bowl to the back of the grill onto a cart. Only he missed and it struck heavily and fell to the floor. William and I were on that side of the grill. There was no room left on this side, so Margo was on the other side and didn’t really see all of this. But William & I did and we both thought it unprofessional and childish. William took exception to it, and evidently an idea popped into his head. With a wink and a “Watch This” he put his hand over his eye and started to make a fuss about getting hit by something. Both the cook and the grill supervisor began to sweat. OK, they were sweating already, because that grill is hot as hell. But, you get my point. William led them down the path to unemployment and civil liability for just about 10 seconds, before he owned up to the joke. I don’t think they appreciated the joke very much. A combination of anger and relief appeared on both faces, with both emotions fighting for primacy. Soon both were ignoring us, suffering under the realization that they both dodged a bullet and had been had. Lesson learned.


We all three went back to our table and dug in. In our absence our waiter had brought our drinks, and left us with rice (kind of sticky) and tortillas. In the next twenty minutes or so we enjoyed the food and had some great conversation. We learned that William had lived in Denver and went to school here in Colorado for about a decade. He was very familiar with downtown Denver. William is an entertaining dinner partner, filled with interesting stories. Margo and I both enjoyed his tale of Kenya and his giraffe dinner. You’ll have to ask him about it, but the bottom line is giraffe is much better than wildebeest, zebra, or gnu. Who Gnu? (Sorry).


We worked our way through dinner, with William and me going back for a second helping. Neither of us misses many meals, and this was a particularly good one. At the end of our dinner the waiter appeared, and we asked for the check. It took him awhile and he brought it. William snatched it up and insisted on paying. However, William is a bit of stickler on the details. He insisted on calling the waiter back and getting the right  ticket. I guess the 4-5 tables had gotten our guy flustered. So waiter-man disappeared again in search of the correct ticket. Personally I thought he should check his other hand, but who am I to correct a highly trained professional? After another wait, he appeared with the correct ticket and made his apologies. William had the money ready for the past ten minutes and handed it to him. His immediate response was “Do you need any change?”. Now we all know this is waiterspeak for “Is the rest of it my tip”. I have never really liked this term, and apparently William and Margo liked it even less. William mentioned his annoyance and Margo chimed in that correct way to handle this is to say “I’ll be right back with your change.” As it turned out that would have been a lie anyway. He wasn’t right back. Apparently our waiter had never seen currency before, as he rushed over to the bar and stood there standing and talking and waiting for something. So we were left waiting again. When he brought William’s change out it was all in ones. Now, I never saw the bill, but I’m guessing it had to be about $50. Even a 10% tip would require a five. William didn’t say anything, and he didn’t listen to as waiter-man launched into his end of dinner speech, in an obvious pander to increase his tip. I gave up after the third sentence myself. I’m not sure who much William left, but I’m thinking this was not the first time Waiter-man had to break up a five for his tip.


But, that was the worst part of our evening. We left and walked out into a drizzle. Rain in Denver has become as scarce as snow in Phoenix. It had actually rained while we were eating. That got William’s attention as he had left his sunroof cracked. We headed south on the Mall back towards William’s car. He commented several times about how nice it was to be back in Denver and how much he was enjoying this evening. Margo and I were having a good time, too. We walked and chatted all the way to his car. Finding that just a little leakage had occurred, and then closing the roof, we were soon on our way.  


We had thought about dessert and William remembered a place from the “old days” called The Market, so that was our next destination. He found it with no problem and wandered around there for a few minutes. William was looking for gelato or something a bit lighter than ice cream, but, no luck. We were soon on our way to the south end of the Mall. We continued chatting and reminiscing. It didn’t take anytime at all before we had walked the length of the mall. But the 8 hour drive was catching up to William and he suggested we grab the shuttle back up.


This was effectively good-bye. It was only about five blocks to our stop and then our evening would be done. We said our good-byes with a hand shake and a hug. Margo & I got off, and with one final wave and a big smile William was on his way, and we were walking towards our car.  

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Across the grill, is Me and William
Across the grill, is Me and William
I only look drunk. I just water to…
I only look drunk. I just water t…
Bravos on the 16th Street Mall. W…
Bravo's on the 16th Street Mall. …
Second verse, same as the first.
Second verse, same as the first.
photo by: crystalware