A few nights after my solo meal, I returned with friends. Any lingering concerns were washed away completely by a thick, aromatic French lentil soup laced with piquant cumin, a couple of pecans piercing the surface in the center of the bowl. Then came a comforting vegetarian take on Thanksgiving: a bread pudding stuffed with sage, soft inside and crispy on the edges; green beans in a creamy mushroom base, topped with a crust of crispy shallots; and sweet, vibrant caramelized sweet potatoes. And though the scallops remain my favorite entree on November's menu, the braised beef came in a close second, the tender chunks of meat served over a bed of firm flageolets and silky escarole, doused in a mildly spicy horseradish broth.

A few recent dishes at twelve were less successful. One night in October, I tried a pork tenderloin too overcooked and dry to be revived by the black-eyed pea setup that worked so well with the calamari in November. And I wish the terrine had come with pickles or mustard or both; I liked the play of textures between the meat — a mild, soft pork sausage — and the toasted baguette and frisee on the plate, but I wanted some flavor element to pop.

Still, these slight quibbles did nothing to chip away at my newfound respect for Osaka. He's an utterly talented chef, simultaneously playful and refined, with an evolving menu that improves incrementally each month. After eating my way through November's menu, I'm already hungry for December, excited to see what Osaka will come up with next.

Location Info


Twelve Restaurant

2233 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80205

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown Denver


Three-course prix fixe (Tuesday-Thursday) $35
Foie gras $15
Calamari $14
Scallops $26
Vegetable $20
Beef $26
2233 Larimer Street
Hours: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

"I call this one 'Call it a truce,'" the affable bartender said the last time I was in, as he placed a drink that blended whiskey and chartreuse before me.

I smiled and melted back into my seat. Game over: a truce, indeed.

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