Best New Restaurant - 2003
Readers' Choice: Adega Restaurant + Wine Bar
The last thing Denver needed was another French-Asian fusion restaurant. But the folks behind Opal opened it anyway. The last thing Denver needed was another up-market sushi bar. But they opened it anyway. Everything about Opal -- from the original triumvirate of owners and the over-staffed (and over-starred) kitchen, to the space and the concept -- seemed like a bad idea at the time, but they opened it anyway, and now, after six months of honing its concept and culling its staff, Opal has fought its way to the top of the heap. With the kitchen firmly in the hands of executive chef Duy Pham -- whose attention to every detail has lifted his fusion cuisine to a level beyond all but its most brilliant exemplars -- and day-to-day business overseen by veteran operator Jay Chadrom, Opal has emerged as the restaurant we always hoped it would be: a brilliant, bold house unafraid of pushing the boundaries of Denver's changing tastes. The space is understated and soft, forgoing the austerity of Asian design for a more flowing, supper-club feel. The traditional sushi menu is beautiful in its pursuit of the classical ideals of balance, freshness and harmony; the full menu maintains a sense of humor and adventure without compromising the natural tastes of the best ingredients available, and the staff seems honestly in love with everything coming from the kitchen. It took some time to get it right, but the results speak for themselves: Opal stands as a shining example of where we hope Denver's fine-dining scene is headed in the years to come.