From Charcoal’s update of its fine dining menu to Concourse, Lon Symensma’s new Stapleton hotspot, to honey-dusted fried chicken at the newly opened Tupelo Honey, here are three restaurants to add to your dining-out list now.
Contemporary modern European
It’s been six years since the opening of this industrial-chic spot in the Golden Triangle, and after watching the ’hood undergo significant changes, executive chef Patrik Landberg decided it was time to make some major menu updates, adding more shareable plates, an expanded happy hour list (Pork Gyoza, $10; Fried Chicken, $9) and a revised wine-by-theglass pairing selection. “I like going to a fine dining restaurant for special occasions,” says Landberg, who hails from Sweden and also runs Charcoal Bistro in Wash Park. “But it can be a little uptight. I still want really good service, a nice cocktail, a great wine and the idea of a fine dining experience, but when you sit down with your friends, it’s nice to share everything and feel relaxed; it doesn’t have to be so formal.”
Among the new dishes to try: The Elevation Mole Salami, $11, inspired by the plates of meat, olives and peppers Landberg enjoyed during his younger days living on a Greek island; Wild Garlic Prawns and Patatas Bravas from the lunch menu, $17, which left us wondering why we had never thought of eating shrimp with fried potatoes before; and Grilled Local Lamb Sirloin, $25. We’ll be returning soon for the Smoked Loch Duart Salmon, so pretty served with chile cream cheese and fresh herbs, and our new addiction: the Bacon-Wrapped Medjool Dates, $2.50 each, stuffed with local goat cheese and topped with Marcona almond dust and balsamic. Hint: Get them as an app and again as dessert; we promise you won’t be sorry.
43 W. Ninth Ave., 303.454.0000
CONCOURSE RESTAURANT MODERNE
After opening 15 restaurants (and owning three), Lon Symensma knows details matter—and while Concourse, his new space in Stapleton, pays homage to the neighborhood’s airport past with décor that includes a laser-cut curved wood ceiling and runway-style lights, it’s the food that’s sure to make this place really take off. The owner of ChoLon and Cho77 opened Concourse (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and boasting an expansive patio) with Luke Bergman, his friend of nearly 20 years since their days at the Culinary Institute of America, and says he’s ready to show off some new flavors. “Everybody associates our name with Asian food, which is funny because I didn’t start cooking Asian food until well into my 20s,” Symensma says. “I was living and working in France for Michelin-star chefs before I knew what lemongrass was.”
If a recent tasting is any indication, he’ll get his wish. You could make a meal of the Roasted Beet Salad served with arugula sorbet ($9), the Charred Humboldt Calamari ($14), which comes grilled batonnet-style, and the Wagyu Beef Tataki ($14), seared and served cold with potato chips for scooping. But then you’d miss out on the Diver Scallops ($23) or the Duroc Pork Loin ($20).
Of course, you’ll want to taste it all, which the owners encourage by serving dishes in the middle of the table for sharing. “The concept is that it evokes conversation,” Symensma says. “When food is set in the middle of the table, everybody can experience the same thing together, and rather than talk about religion or politics or whatever is going on, it gives you a focal point to bridge that gap.”
10195 E. 29th Drive, 720.550.6934
TUPELO HONEY SOUTHERN KITCHEN & BAR
Tupelo Honey is all right with Van Morrison—and should the Irish icon ever visit the new Denver restaurant bearing his song’s name? We think he’d find it quite all right, too. Open since May behind Union Station, this is the 14th location (and the first west of the Mississippi) for the Asheville, N.C.-based Southern eatery, which manages to be both laid-back and elegant. Executive chef Chris Kobayashi, a two-time James Beard Award nominee, serves up everything from mason jar dips to pork belly hash to $.75 martinis at lunch (you read that right). But the two dishes we can’t stop thinking about? Chicken Fried Love: Presented family style (serves two to four), it includes a whole bird, two sides (try the Brussels sprouts and Louisiana maque choux), two kale salads, biscuits and dessert ($60). And Banana Pudding Layered Pancakes: A tall stack of sweet potato pancakes layered with bananas, then pudding, and finished with bananas foster sauce and vanilla wafers ($18). Brunch, breakfast and dessert all wrapped up in one, it is, as Morrison would surely agree, “as sweet as Tupelo honey, just like the honey from the bee.”
1650 Wewatta St., 720.274.0650