A sign reading "Grind" went up at 300 Fillmore Street in Cherry Creek a few weeks ago, prompting us to speculate whether the new business would be a coffee shop or a sausage house. But a new addition to the sign spelling out "kitchen + watering hole," combined with a chat with chef Preston Phillips, filled in the missing details. Phillips explains that Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole will be an eclectic, New American eatery with a focus on house-ground meats and sausages when the doors open in early March.
"This will be a place to relieve the daily grind," the chef says, adding that the name also implies a high level of hands-on craftsmanship in the kitchen. Not only will beef for the hamburgers be ground in-house, but bratwurst and several other styles of sausage will also grace the menu, with mustards, mayo, ketchup and everything else but the bread also made in Grind's kitchen. Colorful sealer jars of pickled vegetables — beets, green beans, cauliflower and carrots — already line the shelves, while two whole-grain mustards — one made from Telluride Brewing Company's Face Down Brown Ale — are quietly doing their mustardy thing in big canisters while awaiting opening day.
Grind is a family business, with Phillips's father and one younger brother also pitching in. They're transforming a former Peruvian restaurant into something a little more rustic — with equally rustic food to match. Along with the beetle-kill pine on the exterior wall, barnwood siding and corrugated roof panels line the bar, vintage signs from long-gone Front Range restaurants add historic charm, and Southern specialties will share menu space with such international dishes as potstickers and a pork-belly banh mi.
Phillips grew up in the restaurant business in Alabama, where his dad ran several fast-casual operations, and then attended culinary school at the Art Institute in Tampa. He moved from Florida to Colorado a few years ago and joined the culinary team at Alfalfa's in Louisville under Kevin Kidd and Bianca Retzloff, who took him along as sous-chef when they opened 24 Carrot Bistro in Erie.
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Phillips's appreciation for local products shows, even on a menu highlighted by fried chicken served with Carolina Gold rice, red peas and braised greens, and braised pork shoulder over Geechie Boy Mill's yellow grits. He'll be bringing in whole hogs and lamb from Boulder Lamb as well as seasonal produce from Oxford Gardens and Isabelle Farms. A core menu of five sandwiches — a classic double-cheeseburger, a bratwurst, a banh mi, a BLT made with house-cured bacon and fried green tomatoes, and a fried-chicken sandwich — will be served at lunch and dinner along with an assortment of soups, salads and small plates. For dinner, four entrees will round out the roster.
The chef hopes that guests will notice the intentional contrasts built into Grind: high-end service in a casual environment; Southern-style gas-station fried chicken alongside duck two ways plated with farro, chèvre, rutabaga and beurre rouge; laid-back Cherry Creek style by day with classic rock and jam-band tunes bumped up for late-night bar service until 1 a.m. "Other neighborhoods have restaurants that act as an anchor," he points out. "We'll have the same kind of chef-driven menu to hold down this end of Cherry Creek."
A soft-opening weekend is scheduled for March 3, 4 and 5, with seating limited to 75 reservations-only guests on each of the three nights. Details on how to make reservations will be available soon on the Grind Kitchen + Watering Hole Facebook page (along with information on any unforeseen delays to the planned opening nights).