Dorchester Social Eatery opens tomorrow in a prime slice of real estate at 15th and Market streets, on a block where the young and chic often club away the night with champagne, house music and expensive outfits. While offering a full dinner menu of continent-hopping entrees as well as smaller samplings for lunch and happy hour, the glitzy interior and minimal seating (the dining room and bar will seat 70) are clear indications that the restaurant is aiming for a later crowd -- think Chloe (or Lavish, the space's previous incarnation) with a dinner menu rather than Larimer Street dining destinations Rioja or Osteria Marco.
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The interior theme falls somewhere between Rome just before the fall and upscale bordello: Antiqued gold trim, wallpaper murals representing antiquarian bookshelves, classical busts and stone animal figures share space with red glass chandeliers and vinyl booths, dark woods and leather chairs. The 4,000 square-foot rooftop deck is the main attraction, with a second shiny black bar, purple tile and artificial turf -- on the walls, not the floor. Royal blue and gold "cabanas" shelter rows of booths -- like seating for nobility at the Coliseum.
Veteran chef Michel Wahaltere, whose Colorado credits include Aspen legends Campo de Fiori, Mirabella and Trattoria Caffé Amici, has designed a menu that pays homage to his Belgian roots with meatballs in a beer and golden raisin sauce and mussels with Belgian frites, but the menu explores all the continents. A Moorish chicken tagine shares space with fish and chips and Indian murgh kari tikka on the Old World side, while the New World side features Maryland crab fritters, duck nachos and Argentinian steak churrasco with chimichurri sauce. It's a wide-ranging menu, but Wahaltere says he is dedicated to staying close to home with local products where possible.
And since this is Denver, Dorchester will also offer brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Dinner hours will be 5:30 p.m. to midnight daily, but management hopes to attract a late-night crowd with an additional club-style space at the back of the restaurant. Far from the wave of DIY spaces with charcuterie programs, whole animal butchery and beetle-kill pine, Dorchester fits into its neighborhood with a sleek and glossy approach that should dazzle its intended audience.
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