Dylan Moore already runs a couple of this city's most engaging restaurants: Deluxe at 30 South Broadway, one of the (very) few examples of intelligently designed, historical California cuisine done right in Denver, and right next door at 32 South Broadway, Delite, which offers a kind of Deluxe-lite menu (a cinch, since they share the same kitchen) in a much more casual space with a great bar.
Moore was a California-trained chef before he came to Denver, and his vision of California cuisine is uncorrupted by the decade or two of terrible things done in kitchens across the country in the name of Alice Waters, Jonathan Waxman and Wolfgang Puck. I loved Deluxe when I reviewed it back in 2005, and have never really fallen from my initial heights of infatuation. As for Delite, I can get Moore's Chinese-style pork buns there, the fried oyster shooters mounted in pho spoons that made Deluxe famous. And I can get them without having to worry about things like reservations or (on a good night) putting on pants.
And now Moore's working on a third place that will be just as casual and (hopefully) as good as Delite: Deluxe Burger, his vision of a gourmet, chef-driven burger joint.
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It's going into the former liquor store space attached to Mod Livin' at Colfax Avenue and Grape Street, and Moore's looking at a Valentine's Day opening. "Though I know these things always run late and end up costing twice as much money..." he told me, careful not to jinx himself by sounding too sure or too confident. And while Moore said that it was way too early to start talking about the menu, he followed that up by...talking about the menu.
"I'm actually in menu design right now," he said. "The first tasting is tomorrow." What he's looking at is a short, artisan board of Angus burgers, ground ahi burgers, salmon BLTs and something for the vegetarians, all bulked out with hand-cut fries and home-made everything.
Seriously, everything. The gimmick Moore's using to set himself apart from the dozen-odd gourmet burger joints already opened by chefs across the state? He's going to make every single thing on the menu in-house. The ketchup, the mustard, the pickles, the fries. He'll be grinding his own meat and, if he can manage it, even baking his own buns -- though that might be tough, considering the entire space is only about a thousand square feet, which doesn't leave a lot of room for a big convection oven.
Aside from the oven, everything else at Deluxe Burger will be done on flat tops - something Moore doesn't have in his Deluxe/Delite kitchen. And that's going to complicate his early menu design. "I'll know a lot more once I can get into the kitchen," he told me. "To be honest, there's a lot still to be discovered."