A couple of years ago, Steven Waters was a partner in the Capitol Hill outpost of Black Eye Coffee, where hip young denizens of the neighborhood sipped fourth-wave coffee (don't ask us; we're still getting jittery on first-wave diner java) in a posh art-deco setting. A peek in through the breezy open window fronting East Eighth Avenue, though, revealed more folks absorbed in their mobile devices than in spending money on food and drink, so Black Eye (and its nighttime counterpart, White Lies) closed up shop in late 2017.
Now Waters has launched a new project, Run for the Roses, in a subterranean space beneath the Dairy Block in LoDo, where it out-cools Black Eye while capturing some of that spot's early-twentieth-century panache. While classic cocktails are the draw here, one item made the jump from Black Eye — and from breakfast to late-night snack.
At the old coffee shop, a $10 breakfast sandwich seemed like an extravagance a notch or two above the means of the Cap Hill clientele. The Jack Broughton (named for a bare-knuckle boxer) was made with a poached egg, a hash-brown patty, both bacon and sausage (courtesy of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe), and a smear of sriracha ketchup, all on a fancy brioche bun. It may have cost Black Eye a pretty penny to assemble, but at the end of the day, it was still just a breakfast sandwich.
But glance at the ticking clock just before last call on a Friday night, when the booze coursing through your veins commands you to procure food at whatever cost, and a $10 breakfast sandwich isn't daunting — it's all but obligatory, especially when you look around and everyone but you is licking golden yolk from their fingertips while devouring sandos wrapped in red-checkered paper.
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The new version of Waters's eggy masterpiece is called simply the Breakfast Sammy, and it's still packed with meaty goodness from Western Daughters. But here the butcher shop's pork is transformed into a house version of Spam — spiced, cured and slow-cooked into sublime rounds. The rest of the sandwich is simple: a runny egg, two slices of American cheese and sambal ketchup (because sriracha is so last year), all on a Martin's potato roll, the squishy summit of the species. But there's not much of a kitchen at Run for the Roses, so Waters had to improvise; your Breakfast Sammy will be cooked in a dual-bay Hamilton Beach breakfast sandwich machine, an odd contraption (the kind you might see in an infomercial) that cooks the egg, melts the cheese and grills the bun to crusty perfection all at once.
Run for the Roses comes with a host of other curious contrivances: a cocktail menu printed on a deck of cards, a multi-volume encyclopedia of mixed drinks in which you're encouraged to add your own notes, and a "Road to Riches" membership program for $300 a year that includes your own lock box stocked with a secret surprise each month. Compared to that, $10 for a moment of inebriated bliss doesn't seem so bad.
Run for the Roses is located at 1801 Blake Street and is open Thursday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Follow the signs in the Alley at the Dairy Block to find your way to the bar, then get a little egg on your face.