One of the premier offerings on the opening menu at Ultrieia is Cinco Jotas Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, a cured Spanish ham aged for four years before being sold. With as many delays as owners Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch have experienced since announcing their plan to open a Spanish/Portuguese "gastroteka" inside Union Station, it almost feels like that ham is young by comparison.
The reality is that the two, who also run Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Euclid Hall and Stoic & Genuine, made their plans public in August 2016. Building a restaurant inside a historic building under the aegis of the U.S. National Park Service takes time and patience, but Ultreia is finally ready to open, beginning with lunch service today (Friday, December 8) at 11 a.m. The tight new space, with an open kitchen wedged beneath a mezzanine dining area, is a veritable tour book of Jasinski and Gruitch's travels across the Iberian Peninsula, complete with herb-garnished gin-tonics (as they're called in Spain), sherries, regional wines and a wide range of booze-friendly food.
The menu is separated into sections for "Manos Desnudos" (bare hands), "Comiendo Utensilios" (tools required), "Raciones" (large plates) and "Postres" (desserts). Stick with the first two for tapas-style bar bites presented on skewers, in cones and on small plates and bowls. You could easily build a meal from the hot and cold offerings here, or switch to something a little bigger for dinner (feast your eyes on the full menu here).
Lunchtime choices include Spanish sandwiches called bocadillos, bikinis or — more recognizably — sanduiches. For a decadent grilled cheese done Spanish-style, the bikini de manchego y jamón or the pan con tomate y queso stand in admirably for the hot and gooey treats Mom used to make.
Jasinski and chef Adam Branz previewed the Ultreia menu at Bistro Vendôme and Rioja earlier this year in anticipation of today's opening, but now you'll be able to experience the real deal — complete with sherry on tap, a jamón station and glass flasks of wine called porreóns — in the comfort of the new restaurant. And if you want that four-year-aged ham? Get it on a jamón sampler platter along with a two-year Fermin Jamón Serrano and a four-year Mangalica. Because sometimes the best things take time.
Ultreia is at 1701 Wynkoop Street and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, staying open one hour later on Fridays and Saturdays. Call the restaurant at 303-534-1970 or visit the Ultreia website for more details.
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