Presentation matters at Squeaky Bean

Children aren't known for discerning palates, but even little tykes know that presentation matters. A kid might hardly touch a snack of celery, cream cheese and raisins, only to happily munch those same ingredients if the raisins become ants marching on a slippery green log. Like crafty parents, chefs understand that we first eat with our eyes, which is why they spend so much time bubbling wine into foam, curling cucumbers into ribbons, and stacking grit fries into Lincoln Log-style structures.

After all my meals at the new Squeaky Bean, I wouldn't be surprised if executive chef Max MacKissock loved ants on a log as a kid.

See also: - Chef and Tell with Max MacKissock of Squeaky Bean - An exclusive first look at the new Squeaky Bean - Semple Brown Design creates restaurants that look good enough to

MacKissock has been with Squeaky Bean from the start, but when the restaurant left its Highland home in summer 2011 in favor of this new, much larger spot in LoDo that opened in June,he finally got a real kitchen.

Under his direction, that kitchen is turning out plate after plate of whimsical food that tastes as good as it looks -- or should I say, looks as good as it tastes.

With so many artful dishes, I grew curious about which one is the hardest to plate. Turns out, it's an appetizer called "eggplant & plum," with greens and herbs perched on a roasted Japanese eggplant. Aside from the challenge of getting the greens to stay on the eggplant, the dish "needs to be layered in the proper manner," MacKissock says. Otherwise, "you could be eating a handful of herbs or bok choy."

Find out what I thought of the rest of Squeaky Bean's food - both in terms of taste and presentation - when the review is posted here tomorrow.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz