When the beautifully restored Union Station opens to the public on Saturday, July 12, the Denver food cognoscenti will have a spectacular depot of new restaurants to chew on, including The Kitchen Next Door, Snooze, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Eatmore Burgers & Brats and Stoic & Genuine, a 2,000-square-foot, 62-seat multi-coastal seafood, fish and oyster house from Jennifer Jasinski, co-owner and chef of Rioja, Euclid Hall and Bistro Vendome.
If all the stars align, Stoic & Genuine will open on Tuesday, July 8, and when it does, expect the kind of penetrating -- and nationally extolled -- restaurant that could very well garner yet another James Beard award for Jasinski, who, last year, waltzed away with the Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southwest crown. Jasinski tapped Jorel Pierce -- a James Beard Rising Star Chef nominee -- as her chef de cuisine at Stoic & Genuine (Pierce has spent the last several years as chef de cuisine of Euclid Hall), and for the past few months, he's immersed himself in a sea of field trips. "Sourcing is a really big deal to us, so I've spent a lot of time with Seattle Fish Company, and I've traveled to both Coasts to visit oyster suppliers to look specifically at what we want to get in terms of cut, flavor, depth and cultivation," says Pierce.
The menu, which is a deep nod to the ocean, will be augmented by a granita bar (think citrus-chile granita, tarragon-cucumber granita and lychee-sake granita), Maine lobsters sold by the pound, a raw bar that fronts the exhibition kitchen, an extensive grower Champagne syllabus, an estate wine program and craft and classic cocktails. Two patios that seat forty will peek over Union Station's plaza fountain, and lunch and dinner will be served every day.
During a press luncheon last week, I had the opportunity to sample several of the dishes that Jasinski and Pierce have stamped on their menu, and it's clearer than the ocean blue that a great deal of attention has been paid to sourcing, presentations and flavor combinations. The clam shack-style clams, their crisp fried exteriors surfacing tender bellies, should be sold by the bucket; the Billi Bi, a classic mussel stew that's credited to the late Maxim's in Paris, gets its miraculous flavor from little more than a long-simmered fish stock and the lovely and pure liquor from the mussels; and the crab Louie, assembled with Dungeness crab, tomato, egg and asparagus and sheened with a green goddess dressing, is old school at its finest.
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Make no mistake: When Stoic & Genuine opens, it'll be one of the hottest seats in the city. But while you wait, you can feast on these photos from the tasting. I'm already hooked.