Chef Kyle Foster and his wife, Katy (owner of Stir Cooking School), are ready to welcome Denverites to Julep, their new restaurant that exudes Southern charm and hospitality while retaining a modern, industrial component common in the RiNo neighborhood. Julep opens today, February 1, for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.
Foster hatched the idea for Julep while still working at Colt & Gray as a butcher and charcuterie expert more than two years ago; he also spent time at Rebel Restaurant as the "meat guy" when that eatery first opened in 2015. But once they'd selected the location at 3258 Larimer Street, the Fosters still had to wait until the three-story building was completed. But now Julep is here, serving the chef's take on regional Southern cuisine — more finessed than fried.
Despite Foster's expertise in all things meaty, vegetables get their due on Julep's short menu, which ranges from small plates to more filling dishes. Turnips, winter squash, broccoli, radicchio and rutabaga each have their own starring role, bolstered by a supporting cast of kohlrabi, chestnuts, blood oranges and grains. Among them, the only fried item you'll find are rings of delicata squash disguised in jackets of golden-brown batter to resemble onion rings.
But the chef's charcuterie skills come through, too, in an oyster-pork sausage (gleaned from a late-nineteenth-century cookbook) and in the housemade bologna in a fried bologna sandwich that also includes butter-bean chow chow (an unusual reimagining of the classic Southern condiment). Other proteins range from deviled snails served in a barbecue-ish sauce and rabbit that accompanies andouille (also made in-house) in a spicy gumbo to lamb flavored with rosemary and juniper. A wood-fired grill in the kitchen ensures that a touch of smoke comes through in many of the meats and veggies.
The celebrity status of several Southern chefs has brought national attention to traditional ingredients: Carolina Gold rice, benne seeds (similar to sesame), Duke's mayonnaise, Anson Mills grits and sorghum syrup have all been profiled on popular cooking shows, and they add their Southern accent to Julep's menu. Downplayed are heavier staples such as fried chicken, country gravy and butter-filled biscuits; flavors are boosted more by such traditional farmhouse techniques as pickling, fermenting and slow-cooking.
Julep is open at 5 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, at 11 a.m. for lunch Wednesday through Friday and at 11 a.m. for brunch Saturday and Sunday. Call 303-295-8977 or visit the Julep website for exact hours, sample menus and reservations.
For more interior and food photos, see our complete Julep slideshow.