Duran's Station on Menaul—You don't have to drive through a mess of construction and holiday tourists to get a chile fix at Duran Central Pharmacy in Old Town. The pharmacy's sister restaurant opened last Wednesday at 4201 Menual NE, in what used to be the fire station just west of Washington. In fact, Duran's Station takes its name from the old firehouse, and traces of it remain in the form of a beautiful red brick wall and a fire bell near the entrance. Finished concrete floors, salmon-pink seating, tasteful lighting and three tall glass brick windows update the space into a comfortable and modern dining room. When we went in for lunch, one of the managers stopped by to ask us how our meal was, confessing: "We had to get everything exactly the same before we could open. If the guacamole, anything, doesn't taste just like the first Duran's, we'll shut the item down for the day." We didn't think the food or service was quite up to the level of the original place, but c'mon, it was their first day. We'll be back for a few beers over dinner—two exclusive additions the new restaurant proudly offers. Try it for yourself Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Call your order in at 830-0007.
This world is made up of two distinct groups: the donut people and the bagel people. Donut people are into the cake, love the glazed and make those little white bags of holes an entire meal at 3 a.m. The bagel people are a different breed altogether. They are up at the booty-crack of dawn, salivating in intense anticipation of a toasty, chewy delight rolled in poppy seeds, sesame, onion or all of the above.
There's something about winter that makes my domestic instincts kick into overdrive. Namely, I clean more than usual—which is to say, more than not at all—and I get the cajones to bake things I'd never consider at other times of the year. Buches de Nöel, cookies, bars, homemade high-protein chocolate cake. But here's a secret: I'm a terrible baker. I just don't have the temperament for it, nor the attention to detail, the exactness or the 400-level math skills it requires. Other cooks I know share the same attitude.