A Bar That's Ready for Prime Time

Brooklyn's CNN Grill

Hands-down, my favorite hangout during the Democratic National Convention was Brooklyn's, across the street from the Pepsi Center and comandeered for the week by CNN which recast it as the CNN Grill.

First, it's an excellent and inviting space, with great light, huge ceilings and many different kinds of seating. In addition to stools that run the length of the ample bar, there are also both bar and regular height tables and booths. The outside patio was roomy and festive. At night, crowds gathered round to watch the big tv's. [More...]

Second, CNN hired the regular Brooklyn's staff to serve the guests and they rose to the occasion, making a great impression on the guests. In addition to taking orders, serving food and mixing drinks, they engaged in conversation. offered suggestions and never lost their cool, even at the most hectic times. Almost every request was met with "of course" or similar positive response. They answered the same questions from guests over and over as if it was the first time.

The bar menu had a terrific fruit plate as well as hot barbecued shrimp and lighter fare. The dinner menu was varied and tempting, from grilled salmon to huge salads to a wonderful Angus burger with great fries. In addition to a variety of brews, they also had soda fountain items, from sundaes to milkshakes.

CNN picked up the tab for all the food and drink, so there were no checks and everyone was free to order as many times as they wanted. I got there at 3pm one day and stayed till 8pm, trying several items from both menus. But for not wanting to miss Bill Clinton's speech, I would have stayed longer.

True, the food may not be the same as Brooklyn's regular fare since special chefs were brought in to create the menu, but it wasn't complicated food and hopefully they now have the recipes.

At Brooklyn's, chefs from New York's swank Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke restaurants will saute and grill for CNN's talking heads and their guests.

....The CNN Grill will serve private breakfasts (buttermilk pancakes, brioche French toast) and lunches (yellowfin tuna salad, half-pound hamburgers). Staffers will be allowed to invite people inside the Pepsi Center security perimeter for dinners prepared by the out-of-town chefs and Brooklyn's regular kitchen staff. Dinner features a Denver version of the famed Union Square hamburger and fries, buttermilk fried chicken and grilled steak sandwiches.

CNN hosts Anderson Cooper, and Campbell Brown ate dinner and mingled among the crowd, as did numerous other celebrities in town this week. Nothing seemed to faze the staff.

When I returned last night after Barack Obama's speech, I was one of the first to arrive. I got to hear the staff discussing the task at hand and the goals (it reminded me of a sports team rally right before the game) and watched them interact with each other. General Manager Chris Walker gave me the history of the bar, which is owned by local Dave Keefe.

An hour later the place was jam-packed. The staff stayed friendly and kept up with the increased pace. I didn't hear a single complaint. Apparently, I'm not the only one to sing the praises of Brooklyn's this week. The LA Times included it on its Best of the DNC round-up:

True, this is just temporary for the convention -- a place to entertain guests and broadcast coverage for the week -- but we yearn to see branches open up in Las Vegas and Cancun.

(Cross-posted at 5280.com, where you will find excellent coverage of the Democratic National Covention by several of the magazine's writers.)

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  • Display: Sort:
    Jeralyn what were your favorite (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by CaptainAmerica08 on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:26:19 PM EST
    menu items?

    the angus burger (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:30:37 PM EST
    fries, fresh fruit plate and the vanilla milkshake. The Cosmos were good too.

    They should have brought in (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by nycstray on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:36:32 PM EST
    Brooklyn chefs, sheesh!  ;)

    Have you seen any... (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:40:09 PM EST
    ...over-all numbers of how the DNC helped local business?  

    I imagine the downtown core did well, but I heard it was pretty quiet at places like Twist and Shout.  Paul thinks it is because the locals stayed off the streets and they're too far from downtown to benefit from the convention.

    Brooklyn's is a nice place pre/post game, but a bit of a hike for everyday.

    Any (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:42:08 PM EST
    bar that is free is my favorite.  Good on ya.  

    I just love those kinds of spaces (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by DandyTIger on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:10:07 PM EST
    I'm going to make a point of going there when I'm back in a few weeks (I work in the Denver area though I live in VA). I tend to hang out at Oskar Blues, the greatest brewpub in the universe. So I recommend that place too.

    There's just no sky like the ones out there. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Teresa on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:17:12 PM EST
    I've never been to Denver but I lived in NM for four years and I have never seen a bluer sky. I like that picture. I would have loved being there. It had to be heaven for a political junkie.

    Been to Denver many times (none / 0) (#19)
    by Boo Radly on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 06:23:23 PM EST
    Usually on the way to Aspen or Vail. But this Dem convention has really opened up more blue sky there than ever before. Who knew.

    I suppose they'll do the same in Saint Paul? (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by akaEloise on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:24:18 PM EST
    It's my home town, but I haven't been back much in the last decade so I'm not really familiar with what's around the convention center -- other than the Dorothy Day homeless shelter down the street.  The thought of all those Republicans in my old favorite haunts is rather distasteful.

    yes they will do the same for St. Paul (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:37:57 PM EST
    and they are very good about providing guest passes to bloggers.

    speaking of guest passes (none / 0) (#15)
    by DandyTIger on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 04:12:25 PM EST
    what will be the procedure for blog passes and the like at St. Paul (outside of CNN's bar)? I noticed on the video interview you posted recently, the republican blogger was talking about not getting the same sort of pass, and I got the impression that the tables would be turned in St. Paul. Or maybe that was just about the big tent place. Do you know about the convention yet, and will bloggers have the same sort of access?

    Yumm (n/t) (4.00 / 2) (#4)
    by sher on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 02:36:47 PM EST

    Did you not see their setup? They were seated (none / 0) (#11)
    by Teresa on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:35:48 PM EST
    where all their fans could hang around them. It was just like Game Day on ESPN! I was expecting Lee Corso to come on and give his picks.

    I deleted the comment you are replying to (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:39:43 PM EST
    it was off topic and contained false info and insults. That commenter, darryl herbert, is warned.

    Ok. I didn't even read all his comment, just (none / 0) (#14)
    by Teresa on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 03:47:11 PM EST
    the first part so I don't know what he said.

    I've really enjoyed the local coverage you've had for us. Denver should be very proud.

    I'm not sure if you can answer this, but is Jane doing ok? I know she used to update us on her blog but I don't go there much anymore and I do worry about her. I know you enjoyed sharing this experience with her.


    Best food I had there (none / 0) (#18)
    by phat on Sat Aug 30, 2008 at 04:43:29 PM EST
    was the Tavern Downtown and the Broker.

    Chop-house had great desserts.