Cliff and Zachary Young opened a bar,restaurant and live music venue around the corner from CY Steak -- Cliff Young's other venture -- last year under the name BaRed. The intention was for the name to be pronounced "Bar Red," but to avoid confusion, the Youngs have updated the name so that it's now Bar Red on all signage, social media and printed menus. That menu has also been updated to focus on classic Italian dishes to highlight chef de cuisine Adrian Chidester's training and Zach Young's North Denver Italian roots.
After running into issues with the original idea for the name, O Bar (which was already taken), going from BaRed to Bar Red seems like a minor tweak, but may get more customers in the door.
"We clarified the name," says Zach Young, noting that it was primarily an online issue with customers not being able to locate the restaurant's information through Google and Facebook. "And we got approval from the landlord and the city to put up a bigger sign, so the timing was right."
The menu, which had encompassed a variety of Mediterranean dishes, has also been updated to focus more on classic Italian and Italian-American fare, highlighting the two years chef Chidester spent cooking in Rome. "He's broadened my palate a little," says Young, mentioning a sausage ragu made with red wine and dark chocolate.
"We kept a handful of favorites on the bar menu," says Young. Flatbread pizzas have been popular and lunch business has been good, with meatball subs and other classic sandwiches on offer. Much of the menu is dotted with traditional Italian ingredients and culinary flourishes: bottarga, anchovies, garlic confit, lavender honey and balsamic reductions, to name a few.
Bar manager Tomasz Tomczyk is focusing on hand-crafted cocktails as part of a speak-easy theme for the after-dinner crowd. Live music and DJs several nights a week are also part of the program.
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The interior of Bar Red has been updated to accentuate the building's history -- "so historic," says Zach Young, "that the original front door is now in the basement, the level that Colfax Avenue was back in the 1800s." The name of the place, according to the owners, reflects the red brick of the building as well as the red lion logo that North Denver Italians have used to highlight their heritage. Murals of the old 19th Street bridge also pay tribute to Denver's history.