The late 2000s were an adventurous time in the Denver restaurant scene. Restaurateurs were absorbing ideas from around the world and attempting new things, young chefs were stepping out of the shadows of their mentors, and undeveloped pockets of the city were becoming home to brave concepts. A number of the eateries that sprang out of that era have remained some of the most influential and interesting establishments still running, with ChoLon, TAG, Fruition and Beatrice & Woodsley among them.
Another was Colt & Gray, which debuted its compact yet sumptuous bar and dining room at 1553 Platte Street in the summer of 2009. Despite the economic woes of the Great Recession, chef Nelson Perkins's eatery felt lavish and indulgent, with fancy cocktails, cured meats and dry-aged steaks. It was also dedicated to nose-to-tail dining (we still remember the lamb kidneys served rare enough to resemble dark plum halves) and was on the forefront of the gastropub movement, which has since become one of the most common business models for new restaurants in the city, even if the unwieldy moniker has been dropped.
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But Perkins is closing Colt & Gray and its downstairs speakeasy, Ste. Ellie, on December 21. Here are the chef/restaurateur's own words from his restaurant's Facebook page:
Nearly 11 years ago we started on an adventure with idea of bringing a new style of dining to Denver. The concept was not a simple one: We wanted to bring the concepts of both farm-to-plate and nose-to-tail to our market. However, it didn’t stop there. We also wanted to add fine wine, craft beer, and an extensive cocktail program to the mix. We hoped to play off the concepts that were growing in Great Britain, the Gastro Pub. In addition, we packaged all of this in beautifully designed space, in what we hoped would be an up and coming neighborhood. We were among the earliest to execute in-house curing from our first day of operation. With great effort we succeeded in building the concept that became Colt & Gray. One could argue that we were the first restaurant anywhere in America to combine all these concepts into one establishment.
Five years later we added Ste. Ellie as a modern “speakeasy” and Viande as an in-house butcher and curing facility. We also added a much-needed private dining space. We built what we believed to be the perfect space for throwing an amazing dinner party every night!
It is with great sadness and consternation that I inform you that Colt & Gray, Ste. Ellie, and Viande will be closing on December 21, 2019, with our 11th annual Drink the Bar Dry celebration.
None of this could have been accomplished without amazing employees who always wanted to grow and evolve. Many of these employees have moved on to better and better positions in life and that is perhaps the result of which I am most proud. The staff has always worked hard, been eager to learn, and loved the creative process we embraced.
Colt & Gray has been my greatest passion, outside of my family, for more than a decade. I want to thank you for all for supporting Colt & Gray. Colt & Gray, Ste. Ellie, and Viande have been a great success, changing the dining scene in Denver forever and creating a generation of successful young people, both in and out of the restaurant industry.
Thank you, Denver, for all your support, and please come celebrate with us!
Nelson D. Perkins
Colt & Gray | Ste. Ellie | Viande
Some of those employees Perkins mentions include bartender Kevin Burke, who left Ste. Ellie and Colt & Gray to open American Bonded and Morin, and chef Kyle Foster, who launched Julep nearly two years ago.
Until December 21, you can still drop in for drinks at Ste. Ellie from 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday, or dinner at Colt & Gray from 5 to 10 p.m. on the same nights. Call 303-477-1447 for details.