Andrew Knowlton, the appointed "Foodest" at Bon Appetit magazine -- and the guy who named Boulder America's Foodiest Town in 2010 -- has just released his listacle of the country's fifty Best New Restaurant nominees, and two Denver restaurants -- their names won't surprise you -- made the cut.
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Knowlton, claims the glossy pub, "spent countless hours and traveled thousands of miles in search of America's Best New Restaurants," and somewhere along his journey, it appears that he stopped in the Mile High City, en route back to the Big Apple, where he just unleashed his top fifty Best New Restaurant nominees, including Old Major, the "elevated farmhouse" restaurant in Lower Highland that opened in February of this year with exec chef Justin Brunson commanding the kitchen. "Pig-centric and nose-to-tail. Reclaimed wood and farmer-focused. Sure, it's a tried-and-true formula from Portland to Portland, but the crew at Old Major excel because they execute it perfectly, from the in-house butchery and rock-solid charcuterie program to the chill, we're-all-friends-here vibe of the former roller rink," writes Knowlton, who clocked more than 26,000 miles during his culinary sojourn.
His second Denver pick? Squeaky Bean, where exec chef -- and James Beard semi-finalist -- Max MacKissock, declares, Knowlton, is making things "interesting" with his "wide-ranging four-course prix fixe, with offbeat dishes like congee and leg of Colorado lamb."
Both restaurants have generated similar praise in Denver and across the country, and in a piece I recently wrote in the London Guardian, I named the Squeaky Bean as one of the top ten restaurants to eat if you're visiting Denver. Gretchen Kurtz, Westword's restaurant critic, also heaped love on the restaurant, calling MacKissock and his team "mad geniuses." And in her review of Old Major, Kurtz admits that pig fiends are going "hog wild" for Brunson's whimsical plays on pork.
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Knowlton will unveil his top ten winners from the list of fifty on August 14. But whether or not they make the short list, Old Major and Squeaky Bean are already winners in our book.