First look: Kitchen Table Cafe opens in City Park West

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"I opened this place," says Dave Kilroy, "because I didn't want to be that person sitting at a desk for the rest of my life, only to wake up one day and say to myself that I shoulda, woulda, coulda." "This place" is the Kitchen Table Cafe, an unassuming, quick-casual, twenty-seat gathering place in City Park West that trumpets a chalkboard menu of all-natural and organic comfort foods.

See also: Five best soul-food restaurants in Denver

Kilroy, who worked at investment companies for the better part of the last decade, ditched the finance world in 2009 to open Grasshopper Alternative Medicine, a marijuana dispensary that's now Sushi Bay, a Japanese restaurant. And he has a background working in restaurants, too, including Ted's Montana Grill, Ruby Tuesday's and Applebee's. But the Kitchen Table Cafe couldn't be more different from the corporate chains of his past. "I loved working in restaurants when I was younger, and I left the industry because it didn't pay well, but I always knew that I wanted to have my own restaurant, and this is a place that's all about the food that I grew up with, the food that my grandmother taught me how to make, food that's made from scratch, all-natural, organic and fresh," says Kilroy.

Modeled, in part, after Tom's Home Cookin' and the meat-and-three cafes (meat and three vegetables) dotting the South, Kilroy's new comfort food cafe features a small menu, just four to six, daily-changing entrees -- among them chicken pot pie, meatloaf, chicken noodle soup and brisket -- a handful of seasonal side dishes (butternut squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese) and baked goods, including luscious pies and cookies, all of which are made in-house by pastry chef Paula Buswell. "Some of these are family recipes, and some are recipes that I've just been playing around with at home, and they're all dishes that benefit from the use of fresh ingredients," explains Kilroy, whose pantry is also stocked with spices from the Savory Spice Shop.

Kilroy, who grew up in Kansas City, and whose grandparents owned a farm, has a particular affinity for Kansas City barbecue, which is why there's brisket on his menu. "I smoke it overnight, yank it out in the morning, and it's traditional Kansas City-style, which mean it's well-seasoned, perfectly cooked and complemented with an amazing sauce," he says. And while he's currently using several different suppliers to procure his products, he notes that by next summer, "I want to have all of my meat and produce soured from Colorado."

In the meantime, the Kitchen Table Cafe, open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., is dishing out plenty of good eats in a neighborhood that doesn't have a whole lot of options. "I used to live in this neighborhood, which is a bit of a food wasteland, and I wanted to open a place in an area that needed -- and wanted -- a good restaurant, and so far the response has been really great. I feel really fortunate to have this opportunity," says Kilroy.

Here's a first look at the space and some of Kilroy's dishes.

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