Ian Kleinman isn't interested in opening his own restaurant. He's having way too much playing around in everyone else's. Last month, Kleinman, the mad scientist behind the Inventing Room, a roving stage of entertainment that revolves around molecular gastronomy, orchestrated a series of fantastic (and fantastical) pop-up dinners at Studio F, James Mazzio's culinary state-of-the-art stamping ground for local and national chefs. And the dinners, which lured people from as far away as Georgia to witness the chef's molecular magic, were just the beginning for Kleinman, who revealed that more playful pop-ups were in the works, including one that showcases his obsession with doughnuts.
"I'm a doughnut freak," admits Kleinman, who spent his youth in doughnut nirvana. "I grew up in Breckenridge, and there was a German bakery just own the street from us that had the most amazing pastries, eclairs and Napoleons, and I'd go as often as I could to get my sugar rush," he remembers. And for the last several weeks, he's been crafting an elaborate doughnut menu for his upcoming pop-up at Table 6, whose kitchen is overseen by Scott Parker.
"I went to culinary school with Scott, and we even won a contest together where we had to make a filling for salmon rings, so when I was looking for a restaurant to do the doughnut pop-up, he offered to let me use the space, and since Table 6 is only open for dinner, and I needed it in the morning, it was a perfect fit, plus it's a great restaurant in a very cool neighborhood," says Kleinman.
The pop-up will take over Table 6 between July 9-14, from 6 to 11 a.m., and Kleinman is having a blast putting together the menu, which includes, among other morning marvels, a peanut butter and jelly doughnut (pictured above) and the "Oink" doughnut with maple pastry cream, bacon Nutella powdered sugar and house-cured spicy bacon. "I'm applying some of my techniques -- compression, sous-vide, dehydration and liquid nitrogen -- to come up with fun new textures to do the first molecular doughnut in Denver," says Kleinman, adding that he'll be featuring nine doughnuts each morning during the pop-up series, along with a java menu unlike anything you've seen.
"We're utilizing a new brewing technique that will condense three pots of coffee into one shot of coffee," reveals Kleinman, noting that he's teemed up with Two Rivers Coffee, in Arvada, to conduct the coffee experiments. "It's a special pot with a vacuum for the coffee grounds, and there's a sterno underneath it, which heats the water to precisely 183 degrees, and when the liquid comes down the pipe into the bottom chamber, it has a light hue to it and only the essence of the coffee remains," explains Kleinman. "We're going to top the shots with coffee pop rocks, too, so it'll be like crack coffee, with people shaking and rolling down the street." In addition, says Kleinman, Two Rivers will also pour liquid nitrogen mochas.
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And the doughnuts -- Kleinman likens them all to long Johns -- will cost $5 each and can be ordered during pop-up hours, or pre-ordered from the Inventing Room website. "If you want to order a dozen doughnuts for the office, you can pre-order them and we'll have them ready for you when you come in, or you can just come in to Table 6, and we'll put the finishing touches on them -- exploding whipped cream, for example -- and you can eat them there or take them to go," he notes. "We're not doing a full-service restaurant," he adds, "but it'll be a very relaxed and fun environment where you can hang out, and I'll have all my test tubes with me, so it'll be dressed up like a lab."
After the doughnut and java pop-up, Kleinman will turn his attention to erecting a pop-up ice cream parlor, which is in the works for August. "We'll do liquid nitrogen ice cream at that one, along with alcoholic shakes, like Jameson hot fudge milk shakes," he tells me.
"Right now, I have no desire for a brick-and-mortar, because I'm having way too much fun with the pop-ups," he says. "We can plan, open and execute a pop-up in less than a month with a minimal amount of risk, and then move on to the next really cool thing. I want to keep building on the craziness and continue to do all sorts of fun, zany molecular things that haven't been done in Denver before," he concludes.