If you're from Austin, Texas, you may have eaten at chef Tyson Cole's Uchi — and then rushed out to tell everyone you know to eat there, too. If you've visited Austin as a tourist or business traveler, every local you talked to likely recommended the place. So now you're in Denver and you've been counting the days until Cole unveils the latest outpost of his far-from-traditional Japanese eatery. The wait is almost over: Uchi Denver will open on Thursday, October 4, at 2500 Lawrence Street.
This will be the fourth Uchi (after Austin, Houston and Dallas) in Cole's Hai Hospitality group, and his seventh eatery overall (he also runs Uchiko, Uchiba and Loro). But our very own Uchi will be unique among its siblings, because it will have a greenhouse for its roof. The restaurant is situated on the corner of the brand-new S*Park development, a collection of townhomes, condos and retail space designed with sustainability in mind (the S stands for sustainability, so you can pronounce it "Ess Park" or "Spark," depending on your mood).
At street level, you'll be greeted by a glass wall and doorway on the Lawrence Street side, and a brick wall bedazzled with prismatic glass bricks on the 25th Street side. Those glass bricks provide tiny viewing ports into the restaurant from the outside and a sparkling wash of sunlight on the inside. Above Uchi, a greenhouse, run by Altius Farms, with a zigzag rooftop and solar panels, will provide the restaurant with fresh greens and other produce.
Uchi will present a combination of dishes from Uchi and Uchiko, as well as original offerings created specifically for Denver. Cole built his reputation on sushi, but chef de cuisine Brandon Brumback and executive pastry chef Ariana Quant will serve a wider variety of intricate small bites built on a foundation of Japanese flavors, techniques and ingredients, highlighted with international touches.
Here's a look at three of the Denver-only dishes, with the restaurant's descriptions in the captions, created with Colorado ingredients in mind:
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The space was designed by Denver's tres birds workshop (whose other restaurant projects include The Family Jones Spirit House in LoHi and Alpine Modern in Boulder) and is packed with stunning features, including a seventy-foot marble sushi bar, reclaimed wood and brick forming artful patterns, and an eight-foot oculus (that's a round window, for those not up on architectural terms) looking up into the greenhouse.
While Denver has its own stable of existing sushi bars and Japanese-themed restaurants, from the Den Corner group of Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, to newcomers like Sushi Ronin, Izakaya Ronin and Mizu Izakaya, Cole has been recognized for his culinary creations with a Best Chef: Southwest award in 2011 from the James Beard Foundation, so Uchi promises to up the game.
If you've been trembling in anticipation of the opening, you can now score Open Table reservations on Uchi Denver's website or by calling 303-444-1922.