The Best New Restaurant is an award that recognizes achievement, but it's also a title that carries expectations and responsibilities. So we do not take choosing the winner lightly, especially in a year that saw more than 300 new bars and restaurants, any number of which could’ve nabbed the top spot. How did we decide?
First, we kept track of everything that opened in 2014. (For Best of Denver, we follow the same guidelines we do when timing reviews — waiting for a restaurant be open several months before we publish a review.) And we ate out. A lot. We took notes on what worked, what didn’t, and what improved with time. We made a short list, moving restaurants of all shapes and sizes on and off as months went by. Just prior to publication, we revisited the top contenders for one final peek. As we let all that information sift and settle, we pondered other factors, too. How did restaurants make us feel as we ate, drank and passed the hours? How well did they fulfill that age-old longing for something more, something inspired to lift us out of our everyday?
Throughout all of this, one name was consistently lifted above the others, that of our Best New Restaurant 2015: Mercantile Dining & Provision.
From its soaring, sunlit space in Union Station’s north wing, Alex Seidel's follow-up to Fruition is showing that yes, a restaurant can be all things to all people, whether it's a traveler picking up handmade pastries and coffee, a business luncher stopping by for a banh mi at the bar, or a group looking to celebrate something special — even if what they're celebrating is nothing more than Mercantile's exquisitely executed fare. However you choose to enjoy Mercantile, you have this trifecta of talent to thank: Seidel, a repeat James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest semifinalist; longtime Fruition sidekick, now chef de cuisine-proprietor Matt Vawter; and pastry chef Lonne Cunningham, who’s new to the team but is clearly cut from the same cloth. Even if you pay no mind to the careful sourcing, the seasonal inspirations, the playful pairings such as fruit and bone marrow and marmalade coaxed from oxtail, you will appreciate the grandeur of the vision, the sophisticated polish of every meal.
And that's how the Best was won.