The croque madame at Fire, with an art installation in the background.EXPAND
The croque madame at Fire, with an art installation in the background.
Bridget Wood

Brunch at Fire Sets the Tone for a Day of Art Downtown

The Art Hotel, at 1201 Broadway, is surrounded by museums and galleries — and it's also filled with fine art, making a visit to the hotel's restaurant, Fire, a delightful experience. Located on the fourth floor, Fire comes equipped with an outdoor patio, fire pits and a dining space filled with even more art — which complements the great views of downtown Denver.

The restaurant offers a few standard brunch items, plus a few eye-catching dishes you don't see as often. The quinoa bowl was filled with sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds, and then everything is topped with a fried egg. It's a satisfying breakfast without leaving you feeling stuffed. “This is our powerhouse breakfast dish,” explains chef Michael Wright, who previously cooked for years at the Brown Palace.

The croque madame, essentially an adult grilled cheese, is far richer than the quinoa bowl, with Gruyère cheese and ham sandwiched between slices of grilled sourdough bread and topped with creamy sauce, more cheese and a fried egg. It also came with a small side salad of mixed greens.

Wright is proud of his cinnamon bun, so I indulged in one of the huge pastries covered in hazelnuts and pecans with icing generously drizzled over the top. As big as it was, Wright says it was only a prototype and that he's working on the final product, which will be two pounds of cinnamon goodness.

The chef also pointed out that his desserts are inspired by all the surrounding art. I chose one for photographic purposes only, of course — and then ended up eating the whole thing. I did feel a little guilty, though, because it was so beautifully plated...before I destroyed it. “Dessert is a last chance to wow your guests, so I like to make my final dishes a little fancier than previous courses,” Wright explains.

This particular creation showcased a pink dollop of dragonfruit mousse, with little spheres of fresh dragonfruit adorning the edge of the plate. Pieces of yuzu cake, a sprinkling of toasted almonds and lacy black tuile added flavor and texure.

Behind Fire's bar are five silver sculptures suspended in midair behind glass, setting the mood for the rest of the restaurant, which is just as spectacular. You can have brunch at the bar while also enjoying artist-inspired cocktails like the Jackson Pollock, made with rosemary-infused gin and a balsamic reduction that streaks the inside of the martini glass, or the Persistence of Memory, made with vodka, watermelon, lemon and basil, which comes in a copper daiquiri glass to keep the drink cool throughout a leisurely brunch — which will put you in the right frame of mind for a day of art.

Fire is located at 1201 Broadway. For more information, call 303-572-8000 or visit the Art Hotel's wesbsite. Brunch is served from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, so the early start gives you plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing meal before setting out on your own downtown art adventure. Hot tip: The Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum are all just a stone's throw away.

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