First Look

First Look: The Pig & the Sprout Arrives Downtown

A new neighborhood sprang up seemingly overnight between Union Station and Commons Park (trendsetter alert: Time to come up with another clever neighborhood name!). It's home to a spacious King Soopers, a dog park and a warren of apartments, condos and offices that make you wonder exactly what city you're in. Yes, you're still in Denver — and evidence comes in the form of the Pig & the Sprout, a spacious new eatery now open at the corner of 19th Street and Chestnut Place that was brought to us by the founder of beloved pork palace the Berkshire.

Andy Ganick launched the Berkshire in the Stapleton neighborhood in 2007, and has since weathered both a recession and a restaurant boom that has provided more competition for dining dollars. But even before the Berkshire became a reality, Ganick had conceived of the Pig & the Sprout. The idea was born fifteen years ago, when he was on a road trip with a friend; it would have been the name of his first restaurant, but other business owners in Stapleton thought the name sounded too much like an Irish pub. So he went with the Berkshire, but always kept his first choice in the back of his mind.
When a new restaurant space became available at the base of the Elan Union Station apartment building last fall, Ganick knew it was the right spot for the Pig & the Sprout, with a young demographic and a location within walking distance of Coors Field and Union Station. The spacious eatery, with an airy dining room and indoor-outdoor bar on the ground floor and a sleek, modern bar and lounge on a mezzanine level, offers a casual neighborhood spot with enough urban appeal to attract destination diners.

The menu comes from chef Rhett Clark, a South Carolina native who combines Southern flair with fine-dining chops thanks to more than a year spent in the kitchen of nearby Mercantile Dining & Provision. The name of the restaurant is a good indicator of what you'll experience from Clark's kitchen: a good-sized sampling of meat-centric dishes (though less pork-heavy than might be expected) combined with an outpouring of local, seasonal produce creatively presented. So you'll find pork carnitas tacos, pork shoulder and chops, and even an appetizer plate of Buffalo-style pig tails, but sunchokes, cauliflower, English peas and grilled carrots are also given proper respect.
Other meaty treats come in the form of a sandwich stacked with smoked brisket "debris" (that's the tasty caramelized trimmings from the outer edges of the brisket), a bavette steak with green-garlic purée, and Colorado striped bass and trout.

Bartender Caleb Russell joins the team from Larimer Square's Milk & Honey Bar-Kitchen; he presents a roster of fifteen cocktails plus another dozen house creations, twenty beers and three wines on tap, and a solid wine cellar (tucked away beneath the staircase to the mezzanine). Cocktails are divided between "Pig" and "Sprout" offerings — the former stronger, booze-forward mixes, and the latter lighter, aperitivo-style drinks.

The Pig & the Sprout is open daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to "whenever the last person leaves," with weekend brunch to be added soon. Keep reading for more photos.