The sequel that surpasses the original is, of course, a rarity in any medium, be it film, lit, or cuisine. It’s too early to say whether The Kitchen’s LoDo outpost will be that surprise gem, but I’ll tell you what: ambiance-wise it’s got the Boulder flagship by the balls, at least in my book. Where the latter, especially downstairs, always feels cramped, the new branch sprawls—filled with light & air, the tables generously spaced, the old woods & antique accents gleaming gently. Neither cluttered nor cold, it’s the kind of place you feel at home instantly. (I guess I’m not the only who digs it—check out this Denver Post profile on designer Jen Lewin.)
Cozying up to the bar at happy hour recently, the Director & I couldn’t get enough of one not-so-small plate in particular: pictured at top left, the burrata—boasting that characteristicly thick yet airy creaminess, plus the slightest pull—was smeared with pungent dollops of anchoïade (a garlicky anchovy dip) atop some of the best country-style bread I’ve had in ages: crusty, vaguely sourdoughy, grilled with enough olive oil to ooze flavor as well as moisture. Under all that cheesy goodness, I couldn’t tell if it was the same bread, clearly caraway-flecked, that accompanied the coarse-chopped pork terrine (made even funkier with the addition of chicken livers), but either way, & whether made in-house or bakery-sourced, it’s all good chewy stuff. The online menu refers to a porchetto tonnato, rather than a terrine, that I admit I felt a slight pang at not seeing on paper. Though it’s more commonly made with veal, this specialty of northwestern Italy is undersung stateside—thin slices of cold meat smothered in a creamy, lemony tuna-&-anchovy sauce? What’s not to love?)
Chock-full of root vegetables—parsnips, potatoes, celeriac—the turlu turlu was cooked a bit too al dente for my tastes, but the bright yet earthy flavor, highlighted by chickpeas, tomatoes & a cumin-scented yogurt (plus a squeeze of lemon), was plenty refreshing—& I could have polished off more than 1 smallish piece of the tortilla-like Indian whole-wheat flatbread known as chapati.
Still, for me the surprise hits of the evening were the proprietary house pours. Apparently wine director Tim Wanner had a hand in their making; if so, it was one assured hand. The white, a Chardonnay-Riesling blend, is at once full & elegant; the red, combining Syrah with Cabernet, balances candied violets & baking spices. Nicely done, sir.
***UPDATE, 5/19: Upon returning to interview co-owner Hugo Matheson for Eat Drink Denver, he bid me share an order of gougères, as the classic French cheese puffs are known.
Most commonly oozing with Gruyère, these—which are almost more like fritters than flaky pastries—contain a ticklingly pungent Gouda-style goat’s milk cheese. Bright-hot, crunchy fun.