Another national food list proclaiming the best, the hottest, the most exciting; another snub for the chefs and restaurateurs of Denver. That's the way it usually goes — but not this time.
Last month, Bon Appétit named fifty finalists for its "Hot Ten," the ten best new restaurants in the United States, and the list included Call, the all-day cottage eatery overflowing with energy and good grub at 2845 Larimer Street. Call was the lone Colorado entry on the list, and with so many other lauded destinations in bigger, trendier cities listed as finalists, the odds seemed slim that a diminutive cafe that could easily come across as little more than a sandwich shop would make it past the final cut.
But today, the "Hot Ten," compiled by celebrity food writer Andrew Knowlton, was unveiled — and there was Call at number ten. Here's how the magazine describes it: "The best meal of all time is the accidental long, boozy lunch. And the best new place to have it is at this all-day hang, with its crimson-red spritzes and endless selection of snacky things. Don’t be surprised if you arrive at 10 a.m. and are still there at 2 p.m."
Beyond that, Bon Appétit praises Call for its sourdough aebelskivers, smoked salmon tartine, satisfying salads and avocado and tomato sandwich, and specifically cites chef Duncan Holmes's housemade breads as a big draw.
Call, the project of Holmes, fellow Frasca alum Allison Anderson and entrepreneur Craig Lieberman, who also owns 34 Degrees Crisps, opened in the dead of winter but did not escape our attention. In Gretchen Kurtz's review of Call, she wrote, "the food is no laughing matter, even if it’s deceptively simple"; like Knowlton, she was also a fan of the breads and the fancy toasts built upon them.
Anderson says the award came as a complete surprise, though she and the rest of the team at Call knew Bon Appétit had visited. "We hosted Andrew in March," she recalls. "He stayed for two or three hours drinking spritzes. They followed up a couple of months later with questions and did a photo shoot, but we didn't know it was for this. It was one of our favorite surprises of the year."
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Anderson adds that it's great to represent Denver and to offer something new to the city. "It's not even fair to say that Denver doesn't do anything well; there are so many great places to eat here," she says. "I think that we saw something in Denver that was underrepresented — that kind of fresh, honest and beautiful food."
It's clear from the other nine selections on the magazine's list that current trends favor exactly the kind of approach Anderson describes, which makes the intimate, rustic, eclectic and far-flung into something easy-going and casual. The number-one spot went to a twenty-seater in Oklahoma City, while new takes on hyper-regional Middle Eastern, Thai, Cambodian and Japanese rounded out the list. Other common threads: youthful energy, a focus on fresh ingredients and homey plating over luxury foods and flash, and a casual setting despite high aspirations in the kitchen. Call meets all of these requirements.
Call is one-half of a two-cottage property; the other half will soon become Beckon, a seventeen-seat chef's-counter restaurant that will serve as the more sophisticated dinner-party foil to Call's breezy, garden-party charm.
Have you been to Call? It's open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Give Call a call at 303-954-0230, or visit the cafe's website for online ordering and other details.