When we look back at 2017 a few years from now, it’s possible — even probable — that we’ll remember it as the year that Denver really came into its own as a nationally acclaimed dining scene. Top Chef helped, of course, with putting the city in a new spotlight, but more important, last year brought the Mile High several examples of really exceptional dining. We have leveled up, Denver, and there is no going back now.
One such example is Annette, a passion project from chef Caroline Glover that opened in Stanley Marketplace last year and almost immediately began garnering national acclaim, including a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant just last week. Glover brings a novel approach to flavors in the seasonal fare coming out of her wood-fired kitchen, drawing on her experience farming as well as her time in such high-stakes kitchens as the Spotted Pig in New York City and Acorn right here in Denver. At the same time, the chef infused Annette with cozy charm; that she operates from an open kitchen and watches over the dining room has the effect of making it feel like you’re dining in her home.
During these afternoon hours, Glover turns out a menu that’s distinct from anything else she offers: The only snack on the happy-hour list also available at dinner is the fries. And that is the main pull here: If you never find yourself at Annette during happy hour, you’ll miss out on a handful of excellent bites.
Accompanying drink specials during these hours center on boilermakers, the beer-and-shot combo whose roots are in working-class bars where shift workers go for fortification before heading home. At Annette, you can nod to this tradition with a Miller High Life and a shot of bourbon, rye or Campari, or a Modelo and a shot of mezcal or tequila; each pairing is just $5. If that’s not really your speed, all of Annette’s cocktails and cold-brew coffees are discounted by $2, beers are discounted by $1, and a rotating selection of wine rings in at $20 a bottle. There’s also a special Montenegro spritz and a canned Albariño.
One final note: While Annette’s happy hour is long on compelling cooking, it is not particularly cheap — that spritz was $10, the sandwich $9, the steak frites $15. It’s best, then, to think of this more as a chance to see a slightly different side of Glover’s cooking than an opportunity to get buzzed at a discount.