How do you pack a little extra value into an already busy restaurant? Add happy hour or brunch to bring in the crowds at hours when chairs otherwise sit empty. Or for a bar that already does a decent happy hour, a new chef-driven menu could keep seats filled when patrons might otherwise depart for dinner elsewhere. Here are four spots in Denver and Boulder with new happy-hour or brunch menus, and one with expanded seating and an all-new food program.
RiNo Yacht Club
3350 Brighton Boulevard
RiNo Yacht Club, the Source's cocktail bar in the round, has reconfigured and added its own food program. The main bar, where shoppers and diners at the Source can watch cocktails being crafted like it's a spectator sport, has been expanded by a third to make room for food service, overseen by chef Theo Adley, whose résumé includes an executive-chef stint at the Squeaky Bean. The bar expansion adds space for an oyster case and seats for 25 guests (up from the original 12).
Adley's menu focuses on seafood and Southern coastal cuisine, a nod to the Deep South roots of Yacht Club owner Mary Allison Wright and her partner, McLain Hedges. Along with raw-bar favorites like oysters on the shell, caviar and shrimp cocktail, there will be country ham on fresh-baked biscuits, boiled peanuts, West Indies crab salad, and buttermilk pie for dessert, all served on vintage dinnerware.
Wine guru Wright ushers in a new list of sherries, bubbles and white wines to complement Adley's menu, a combination she calls "wine and brine."
1420 Larimer Street
The cozy French bistro tucked behind a row of shops on Larimer Square launches a new happy-hour program on Monday, May 9, with specials from 4 to 6 p.m. every weeknight. Chef Adam Branz will offer $12 servings of mussels and fries — or moules-frites, if you're a Francophile — in three different styles: classic, Alsatian or Basque. There will be other menu items, of course, and because it's happy hour, discounted drinks will also be part of the program, including half-price on fourteen different wines by the glass, a $3 cocktail that changes daily, and $3 pours of Anton Francois French Ale, from Denver's own Diebolt Brewing.
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290 South Downing Street
Here's another place to brush up on your French: Cafe Marmotte is unveiling "Le Brunch" this weekend, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. You'll find classics like a Croque Madame doused in Mornay sauce or that best of French inventions: the omelette — this one with cave-aged Gruyère and chives. Of course, the toast here is of the French variety, too, but you'll find more modern creations from chef Mark Reggiannini, like a banh mi eggs Benedict, flatbread topped with raw ahi tuna and wasabi cream, and a house burger topped with Morbier cheese. And because brunch kicks off on Mother's Day weekend, moms will get a complimentary mimosa on Sunday.
Under the Sun
627 South Broadway, Boulder
The Mountain Sun brewpub group features casual, hippie-themed pubs like the original Mountain Sun on Boulder's Pearl Street and the newer but still Deadhead-ish Vine Street Pub in Denver's Uptown neighborhood. The under-the-radar Under the Sun in south Boulder is the dressed-up sibling in the family, with sophisticated decor and a menu to match; but even dishes like cassoulet, braised boneless lamb shank and wood-fired pizzas come in at a price point somewhat below the competition. And now Under the Sun is offering brunch, too, with those crisp-crusted pizzas making the morning list, including a breakfast version with prosciutto, goat cheese and two sunny eggs. Other a.m. offerings lean toward the classics, with pancakes, eggs Benedict and French toast in un-fussed-with fashion. Heartier options include fried chicken and waffles and salmon cakes served Benedict style, with Hollandaise and poached eggs. The brunch menu is served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with most items coming in at under $11, except the pizzas, which range from $11 to $14.