First Look: Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole Opens Tonight in Cherry Creek North

Fried chicken with braised greens, Sea Island red peas, Carolina gold rice and hot wing sauce.EXPAND
Fried chicken with braised greens, Sea Island red peas, Carolina gold rice and hot wing sauce.
Mark Antonation

Southern food has been in the national culinary spotlight in recent years, and Denver restaurants are responding with more and more examples of heartland cooking. Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole, which opens tonight in Cherry Creek North, isn't what you'd call a Southern eatery, but chef/owner Preston Phillips draws inspiration from his Alabama roots to add a dash of Dixie to a smart board of good-time bar fare balanced with more sophisticated offerings suitable for the Cherry Creek North setting.

Phillips, his father and one younger brother took possession of the garden-level spot that was previously a Peruvian restaurant and transformed it into a cozy, low-slung bar and dining room decorated with vintage photos and prints,  rustic light fixtures made from Mason jars and bright pickled vegetables in quart-sized containers. Although the space is below street level, windows on the south and west walls let in a surprising amount of sunlight, giving a warm glow to reclaimed barnwood and weathered tin siding.

The sign above the patio.EXPAND
The sign above the patio.
Mark Antonation

In the kitchen, Phillips has added chef Ashley Free, who worked at New York City's Eleven Madison Park after culinary school, as his wing man, and has also hired Claire Fields, most recently of Sugarmill, as Grind's pastry chef.

The big bar area that greets customers as they come in the door is like an open invitation to tuck into a double cheeseburger made with house-ground chuck bolstered with a touch of pork fat. Phillips sears his patties hard for a deep-brown crust and serves the burger simply with American cheese, grilled onion, shredded lettuce and special sauce on a Grateful Bread Company brioche bun. Other beer-friendly starters include a sampler of housemade sausages, lamb meatballs and an assortment of hot sandwiches. Lighter bites showcase local produce, like a beet salad with Haystack Mountain chèvre and rhubarb vinaigrette and a rotating vegetarian small plate of the day.

Beet salad with rhubarb vinaigrette, Haystack Mountain chèvre and candied pecans.EXPAND
Beet salad with rhubarb vinaigrette, Haystack Mountain chèvre and candied pecans.
Mark Antonation

Bigger appetites will find comfort in Grind's fried chicken, brined and then soaked in buttermilk before being encrusted in a crunchy jacket tinted a rusty hue from generous seasonings. Phillips sides his chicken — an homage to Alabama gas-station bird — with a squeeze bottle of buttery wing sauce taken from his grandmother's repertoire. Artisan Southern ingredients show up on the plate, too,  with Carolina gold rice and Sea Island red peas, an heirloom varietal similar to black-eyed peas.

While the fried chicken stands out as one of the chef's childhood favorites, he also works with seasonal ingredients to construct more elaborate plates, like a seldom-seen teres major steak with rutabaga mash and fresh greens dressed in warm bacon vinaigrette, and a double-duck dish with risotto and beets.

At the bar, Grind offers a small range of draft beers, with a bigger selection primarily in cans, which Phillips sees as a more sustainable packaging method than glass bottles. Craft cocktails will be bolstered by housemade sodas, which can be ordered with or without added alcohol.

Grind opens tonight at 5 p.m. and will continue with dinner hours Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). Lunch hours will be added soon, as well. Keep reading for more photos from Cherry Creek's newest restaurant.

Bar tables at Grind.EXPAND
Bar tables at Grind.
Mark Antonation
Grind's double cheeseburger on a Grateful Bread brioche bun.EXPAND
Grind's double cheeseburger on a Grateful Bread brioche bun.
Mark Antonation
Pickled vegetables share shelf space with liquor at the bar.EXPAND
Pickled vegetables share shelf space with liquor at the bar.
Mark Antonation
Vintage photos add ambience, and sliding glass doors let in a surprising amount of sunlight.EXPAND
Vintage photos add ambience, and sliding glass doors let in a surprising amount of sunlight.
Mark Antonation
Chef/owner Preston Phillips plates a double cheeseburger.EXPAND
Chef/owner Preston Phillips plates a double cheeseburger.
Mark Antonation
Cozy seating in Grind's dining room.EXPAND
Cozy seating in Grind's dining room.
Mark Antonation
Phillips and his dad built the bar back.EXPAND
Phillips and his dad built the bar back.
Mark Antonation
A view from the bar into the dining room. The metal bar chairs are only temporary. Dark-wood high-backed stools are on their way.EXPAND
A view from the bar into the dining room. The metal bar chairs are only temporary. Dark-wood high-backed stools are on their way.
Mark Manger
The entrance to Grind on the west side of the building.EXPAND
The entrance to Grind on the west side of the building.
Mark Antonation
Grind's opening menu.EXPAND
Grind's opening menu.
Mark Antonation
Three kinds of beets share a plate.EXPAND
Three kinds of beets share a plate.
Mark Antonation
Grind's dessert menu.EXPAND
Grind's dessert menu.
Mark Antonation
Grind occupies the garden-level spot at 300 Fillmore Street in Cherry Creek.EXPAND
Grind occupies the garden-level spot at 300 Fillmore Street in Cherry Creek.
Mark Antonation
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miles
Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole

300 Fillmore St.
Denver, Colorado 80206

720-749-4158

grinddenver.com


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