Justin Brunson is one of the busiest chefs in Denver right now. Masterpiece Deli, with which we have a serious love affair, is applying for a liquor license, Brunson is prowling to open a second Masterpiece Deli location, and while Lechon, a pig-centric restaurant project between Brunson and Ben Parsons, who owns the Infinite Monkey Theorem, has been sidelined -- "The investors pulled out," says Brunson -- he's just joined forces with Daniel Kuhlman, who owns Tastes Wine Bar & Bistro at 4267 Tennyson Street, and a second Tastes Wine Bar at 1033 East 17th Avenue. That Tastes will shutter on Saturday, May 21, to make way for the arrival of Wild Catch, a sustainably-focused fish house that Kuhlman and Brunson hope to set sail late this summer or early fall.
"I'm really, really excited about this concept," says Brunson. "I've always wanted to do a small seafood restaurant, and when Dan and I sat down and chatted about it, I knew that he'd be a really good partner and that this could be a big hit for Denver."
Brunson, who's pulling Galen Kennemer, currently at Masterpiece, over to the new restaurant to be the chef de cuisine, says that the board will be tidy -- fifteen dishes, most of which will focus on sustainable, wild-caught, seasonal creatures that swim. "Galen is a hot, young talent in Denver -- he's one of the best out there -- and I want to give him the opportunity to shine, and with the menu that we're creating, I think he's going to do exactly that," reasons Brunson, adding that Kennemer has also worked the line at Fruition.
For his part, Kuhlman, a major grape geek, insists that there will be a continued emphasis on the wine syllabus, noting that the white wine selections will double and the roster will continue to expand. "The wine part of the equation isn't going away," he promises. "It'll just continue to get better."
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And so, too, will the space, which is undergoing a complete facelift. "We're going to transform the space entirely, and we're building a private patio with misters and seven-foot glass walls," he says. In addition, the interior will include a "captain's table" that will double as a chef's table near the new exhibition kitchen.
"I think this will be a fabulous addition to Denver," says Kuhlman. "We want to be like the Fruition of seafood, and while we killed the wine bar -- the food program definitely wasn't where we wanted it -- we're giving birth to a killer new concept that Denver hasn't seen before."
For more info, call 303-459-2311.