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Like those peaches, Squeaky Bean itself has undergone a marvelous transformation. What was once a neighborhood favorite, with rustic country fare prepared in a kitchen the size of a shoebox, has become a strong contender for the city's best restaurant just a few months after reopening in LoDo. Service is as artful as the plating, with staff so graciously trained that they can approach a table to clear a dish, only to pull up at the last second and unobtrusively walk past when a guest reaches for one last taste. The space is equally refined, with mod dot fabrics, olive-green booths and spoon chandeliers jazzing up historic wood beams and walls of windows. A glimmering horseshoe bar, cocktail menu courtesy of ace bartender (and occasional Westword contributor) Sean Kenyon, offers plenty of room to enjoy both liquid pleasure and the spectacle of chefs in the open kitchen. Yet for all its polish, Squeaky Bean remains as irreverent as always, with bills clipped to seed packets, cocktails grouped by movie title, and a lit-up bingo board hung prominently on the wall.

MacKissock pushes himself, he says, "to have original thoughts and not just reinterpret what restaurants in New York and L.A. are doing." This attitude makes him not just a chef, but an inventor, and as such, he's subject to the perils of invention captured by Thomas Edison, who supposedly remarked, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." While most things work splendidly at this Squeaky Bean, a few things don't. Fried chicken ballontine, a sausage of sorts stuffed in crisp chicken skin, pales in comparison to the Thanksgiving meal it evokes; splashes of beet juice slip past the expediter; garlic knots are oily; cream sometimes curdles in coffee. A dessert described on the menu as "plum & almond" comes out oddly disjointed, the plum wine foam too stark a contrast to the dense cake underneath. And the "fluffer nutter," the only carryover — sweet or savory — from the original menu, calls out for either fruit or chocolate to cut the richness of caramel, peanut butter and brioche.

Squeaky Bean's "eggplant & plum" does a Cirque du Soleil balancing act.
Mark Manger
Squeaky Bean's "eggplant & plum" does a Cirque du Soleil balancing act.

Location Info

Map

Squeaky Bean

1500 Wynkoop St.
Denver, CO 80202

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown Denver

Details

See also: Slide show: Inspired Eats at Squeaky Bean

Squeaky Bean
Red kuri squash $13
Beets $10
Carrots $12
Eggplant & plum $13
Skuna Bay salmon $23
Fried chicken ballontine $24
Berkshire pork loin $25
Whey-poached lamb $26
Plum & almond $8
Fluffer nutter $9
1500 Wynkoop Street, 303-623-2665
Hours: 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

At Squeaky Bean, a dish might be attempted fifty times before the kitchen gets it right. While fifty tries sounds like a lot, it's fewer than other inventors might need and significantly fewer than it would take home cooks, even ones with an aerolatte, cryovac and plenty of free time. Taste MacKissock's vegetables, though, and you'd probably be game — if only we could get him to write the book.

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16 comments
UpsetPatron
UpsetPatron

I found the Squeaky Bean to be way overpriced and lacking flavor in almost everything.  I was so underwhelmed with my meal that I definitely won't go back.  My wife is allergic to gluten and dairy and generally doesn't eat meat, and even she had a hard time finding options there because they won't leave out a sauce that has gluten in it or modify a dish in any way.  Just typing this post is making me angry remembering eating there.

Lisa Ross
Lisa Ross

Love this place!! So happy they reopened.

chefzoso
chefzoso

I have found the Bean to have the most adventurous food in the city right now...and featuring forward thinking food is tough here in Denver-land, I assure you. I would rather have a few strikeouts from someone who swings at the fences than a lot of singles, that is just me.

One comment I hear more is that the name of the restaurant is not representative enough of what they do and some people think it is a coffee shop....

chuckroast
chuckroast

I get it that most of Kellers cookbooks are way over the top, but ad hoc at home is one of my personal favorites.

alanpratt02
alanpratt02

The Bean's food has been described as inspired. Having tried the carrots, squash, pigeon, lamb and scallops last night, I am "inspired" to comment on Westwords "Genius" and the previous Denver Post 5 star review of the Bean. What are you guys thinking? In my 30 odd years of loving fine food I have rarely if ever been so disappointed in a restaurant. I and my dining partners are not picky and love fine food. We have happily dined at the likes of ZCuisine, Root Down, Linger, Duo, Table 6, Mizuna, the Kitchen, Radda, Black Cat, Fruition, Fuel, etc. etc. without complaint and will gladly do so again. But we will not return to the Bean. The food is over wrought, pretentious, bland, minuscule and over priced. The lack of flavor was somewhat astounding, an accomplishment really. The Scallop(s) (pluralization is questionable here as there may not have been an entire scallop involved) were utterly tasteless. The Pigeon was dry. The kuri squash? Somebody liked this? Was there actually squash involved? The serving of food in a nice wooden box is cute, but it doesn't make it good. This place oozes phony pretension. The beer list was pathetic, the wine list weak and overpriced. You need to go to Italy and be reminded of what makes great food; superior ingredient, prepared simply and with love. It is rare, almost never, that I find a need to complain about a restaurant. But the Squeaky Bean wrapped about a decades worth of negative experiences into a single meal. I am flabbergasted that people find this place even remotely worthwhile.

bhoffmeyer
bhoffmeyer

I am in partial agreement with Den_Food and Cap_Hill_Cowboy. No, Denver isn't on the culinary cutting edge (or any cutting edge really) but then, what non-coastal city - other than (in some ways) Chicago - is? That said, I get frustrated with people who bitch about this as I feel Denver/Colorado has come a LONG way culinarily; why can't we just celebrate that? Even on the coasts there's a hell of a lot of copying...that's what human beings do. Truly original restaurants are few and far between anywhere you go but most places - Denver included - have places that are made unique by the things that are different about them and by their own sense of place. The Squeaky Bean exhibits this through it's playfulness and "Denver casualness" (not sure that's truly a phrase but whatever). 

 

Where I disagree with my august fellow commentators is regarding the food at Squeaky Bean. I've been amazed with the quality, inventiveness, and thoughtfulness of everything I've tried there. I plan to keep on going and expect more of the same from Max et al. 

 

Den_Food - I'm curious as to what - if any - places in Denver are up to your standards?

Den_Food
Den_Food

To even speak French Laundry in the same breath as Squeaky Bean is an abomination to foodies everywhere.  I have to agree wit Cap_Hill_Cowboy in the sense that yes, the food was good, inconsistent yes, and to be honest, didn't necessarily blow my mind.  

 

I hate to break it to my fellow Denver-ites, but we are simply not on the cutting edge of the food scene here. I travel to NY and LA regularly, and have to admit;  ideas such as Squeaky, Linger and Green Russel have been institutions in these cities for 5-10 years.  

 

Let's just pump the breaks a bit and perhaps get some additional experience under our collective belts before we go espousing on how ground-breaking our copy-cat chefs are here in the mile-high city.

Cap_Hill_Cowboy
Cap_Hill_Cowboy

PLEASE don't request anyone to write a cookbook before they figure themselves out. The Bean is often inconsistent, not necessarily in a "I Wouldn't Go Back," sort of way, but in a way that informs the mindset that perhaps they're still finding their footing. Squeaky Bean WILL be a great restaurant, but no restaurant achieves greatness immediately upon opening as so many in this city are wont to proclaim. Give these kids some time, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

alanpratt02
alanpratt02

@chefzoso That is a fair comment and I agree that the food is adventurous and kudos for that. But adventurous food doesn't do much for me unless it is also "good". The home run was missing. The food just didn't taste very good. The adventure was in preparation and presentation, not taste.. I think Cholon is equally adventurous and the food there tastes good.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @alanpratt02 You complain about pretentiousness, and then say something like "you need to go to Italy to be reminded of what makes great food." You need to go to Italy just so we don't have to put up with your pretentiousness here.

 

 

Den_Food
Den_Food

 @bhoffmeyer Good comment.  I definitely agree with some of your points.

 

My three personal favorite spots in Denver are Tables in Park Hill, il Posto Uptown and Twelve.  I just find that they are consistent, have great service and a simple yet creative approach to food. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @Den_Food You know what would be an abomination to foodies everywhere? If they were serving human baby or were employing imported slaves to shave truffles over your plate, you could use the word abomination. As it stands, the reference to Thomas Keller and his restaurants is a mild conceit, meant only to illustrate the idea that the writer thinks a particular dish is so good that she wants to cook it at home, while not being so complex as to be daunting.

 

Thanks for representing foodies everywhere, though! at least now they all know who to turn to for leadership.

alanpratt02
alanpratt02

@Mantonat Having been to Italy hardly qualifies someone as pretentious. It is one of the most traveled to locations in the world and well know for it huge contribution to cuisine. What is pretentious is the Beans food. It would be fine if it tasted good, but it doesn't. First and foremost, food needs to be about taste. If it looks good and is presented creatively that is a plus, but it is no substitute for flavor. My unpretentious, relatively easily pleased group of 4 have never been to a "quality" restaurant that left all four of us completely disappointed in every single dish. Our dinner at the Bean was a complete 0-fer which is totally unprecedented for us. We almost always like our meals and there are dozens of places in Denver/Boulder that we have thoroughly enjoyed.

Den_Food
Den_Food

 @Mantonat Thank you for that bestowing such a divine and admonished title upon me.  Much appreciated.  Also appreciated is your bland sarcasm and extreme comparisons.  

 

You may now go forth with your fixie and mustache.  See you soon at Sputniks. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

 @Den_Food I love Sputnik! I am way too old, though, to ride a fixie. Not only would I kill myself, but those tiny seats are certain to cause irreparable damage. 

 
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