When Colt & Gray, the new gastropub taking shape at 1553 Platte Street, opens next month, owner and executive chef Nelson Perkins says he'll be ready. "This restaurant has honestly been in the works for more than two years, and I think we've achieved what we set out to do, which is to design a comfortable place that will serve quality food with quality ingredients, and also have a great wine program," he said while showing me around the eighty-seat space, which opens over the Fourth of July weekend.
"We want this to be a pub that appeals to the young, hip crowd who can't spend a fortune, to the baby boomers who might have a little extra money to spend, and to kids, because Highland has a lot of families," he explained. "In fact, one of the things that we're really proud of is our children's menu, which is fairly extensive and doesn't have any junk on it," he told me, while pointing to a kid's menu that offered meatloaf, orecchiette, eggs with pesto and ham, shells with cheese and turkey or beef burgers.
But this is also a restaurant that Perkins wants to keep adult: "We're going for a contemporary country feel that's antiquated but sophisticated, a place where you can have a nice, romantic dinner in the dining room or great wines with friends in the bar." The space, which will be divided into two rooms, one for dining, the other a pub setting with living room furniture, and separated by a floor-to-ceiling gas fireplace, will center around a wine cabinet with lockers.
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"I'm very excited about what we're doing with our wines, especially our wine-of-the-month club, which is a paid membership that will allow our customers to try some eclectic wines that we'll choose for them," Perkins continued. "We'll put the wines in designated lockers, and customers can either open one of the bottles during dinner, or call us a few days in advance and we'll design a wine and dinner pairing for them."
As for the menu, Perkins doesn't want it pigeonholed: "You know, I guess it has a lot of Italian influences, but really it's just about simple preparations using a few ingredients. We're not aiming for molecular gastronomy, and we're not married to the farmers' plate. We just want to be a good restaurant."
A good restaurant that's also striving to flip the best burger in Colorado. "We're testing out different blends and ratios of beef, trying to figure out what works the best," said chef de cuisine Brad Rowell, who is sharing time in the kitchen with Perkins and former Root Down chef Ryan Leinonen (who was booted from that kitchen a few months ago)."Nelson and I went to culinary school together in New York, and the menu is full of foods that we've tried and really liked over the years."
As far as I'm concerned, that menu can't come soon enough, On paper, it looks f'ing brilliant.