Cafe Society

Coohill's will open next August in LoDo

Four years ago, in 2006, Tom Coohill, the former Western regional chef and director of culinary standards for Levy Restaurants at the Pepsi Center, left the armpit that some people call Pittsburgh and moved to Denver.

"My wife and I had a vision of moving out west -- we're both really outdoorsy -- and Denver is a great cosmopolitan city, so we moved here," says Coohill, who also did time in some of the best kitchens in the world, including L'Oustau de Baumaniere, a three-star Michelin-ranked restaurant in France, and Ciboulette restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, which Coohill opened in 1992 to heaped praise from both Conde Nast Guide and Esquire magazine, which deemed the French restaurant one of the top 25 in the country.

And now Coohill and his wife, Diane, are opening Coohill's next August at 1400 Wewatta Street in LoDo.

"I had my own restaurants in Atlanta for ten years, but wanted to try the corporate world to learn the business side of things, and now that I've done that, I'm ready to open my own place here, and this is a happening area that draws a large LoDo crowd," says Coohill.

His new restaurant, which is being built in a Leed silver certified building that also houses the corporate headquarters of Chipotle Mexican Grill, will focus on French cooking augmented by local ingredients. "I'm trained in French cooking, so the menu is based in French technique and style, but I really want to draw from local farms," explains Coohill, who plans to utilize produce and cheese from Fruition Farms, the ten-acre parcel of land owned by Fruition executive chef Alex Seidel. And that's not all: Coohill also wants to erect a farmers' market just outside the restaurant's front door. "That would be great for this area, and I think something like that would do really well down here."

He thinks his menu will be a hit, too. "I want to do things that aren't too expensive, but my cooking is going to be authentic," notes Coohill, adding that most everything, including breads and pastries, will be made in-house. His menu, which is still a work in progress, will hustle stone pizzas, the crusts of which will be made with Colorado organic flour; soups, including a spring pea with pork belly and mint; tasting plates like duck confit, octopus "a la plancha" and whipped brandade; fondue; salads; charcuterie, including pork rillettes and pâté; and large dishes that zigzag from wood-fired Colorado cutthroat trout to wood-roasted pork chops. And nothing on the menu will ring in at more than $22.

When Coohill's opens, it'll serve coffee and fresh-baked pastries in the morning, plus lunch and dinner seven days a week.