On August 15, the Kimpton Hotel Born will open at 1899 16th Street, and with it comes a new restaurant called Citizen Rail, making two hotel/restaurant combos in downtown Denver for the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants group.
Those who have enjoyed meals at Panzano in the Hotel Monaco, less than a mile away, know that Kimpton isn't content to offer bland tourist fare to please the masses. Chef-driven menus and artisan food production — like the handmade bread and pasta at Panzano — are more the norm. That will be the case at Citizen Rail, too, led by executive chef Christian Graves, who moved to Denver from San Diego, where he was in charge of another Kimpton restaurant.
Citizen Rail gets its name and theme from its location just behind Union Station, at the end of the terminal where travelers and commuters flood the platform at regular intervals. Sleek art-deco interior design turns the dining room and chef's counter into a well-appointed train car with lighting and mirrors that convey a sense of motion. In the bar, sexy curves and burnished fixtures add a timeless quality.
When the restaurant opens on Tuesday, August 15, it will serve the entire hotel, from room service to banquets and special events. But that won't keep Graves from giving his complete attention to every detail on the menu. That starts with a dry-aging room where cuts of beef will rest for a minimum of 28 days before getting a turn on the wood-fired grill. Local pork, lamb and game will also be brought in whole and broken down in Citizen Rail's kitchen.
The menu leans toward rustic American influences, even when fancier ingredients are used. So foie gras comes with a biscuit and citrus marmalade while the lobster is roasted in hardwood embers. Smoke and fire touch many of the dishes, from hickory-tinged oxtail to mesquite-fired mussels. Graves notes that wood itself is an ingredient in cooking, so different varieties are used to add distinct flavors to dishes.
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Even the cocktail menu, designed by beverage director Chris Burmeister, is inspired by the wood-burning grills. So smoked, charred or blistered ingredients find their way into drinks, and beers, wines and cocktails are designed to marry well with the food. For something unique, smoky and summery, Burmeister's milk punch is notable for its combination of mezcal, cantaloupe juice, citrus and milk. The punch comes out crystal clear as a result of a technique that removes the milk solids from the whey.
Citizen Rail will open with breakfast and dinner service daily, with lunch and brunch to be added soon. For dinner, come between 5 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, or between 5 and 11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. For night owls, the bar stays open until midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will soon be joined by Tavernetta, a new project from the Frasca Food & Wine team that will occupy the opposite corner of the hotel. Born management notes that while Tavernetta is not officially part of the Kimpton package, guests of the hotel will be able to charge meals there to their rooms.