Just a few days after the Archive Room closed in Arvada at the end of September, it was swept up by three prolific names in the Denver/Boulder restaurant scene: Etai, Robin and Udi Ba-ron, the faces behind the Udi's empire, which now has nine restaurants in its pocket, plus a catering company and commissary bakery. But their newest place, Braun Taphaus and Grille, which opened today at 5601 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard, is a significant departure from the Udi's brand, which has always focused on healthy sustenance -- good food that's really good for you. At Braun, the emphasis is on craft beers and substantial plates of really good, rib-sticking comfort food that's steeped in German/American roots.
"This neighborhood is becoming more and more gentrified and urbanized -- we have a taproom and brewery, a mixology bar and a beer-and-frites restaurant -- and we wanted to do something in this space that would continue the trend," says Etai, whose family also owns Udi's Pizza Café Bar, directly across the street from Braun. "We do really well at the pizza bar and cafe, and we think we can do really well here, too, despite the fact that we're doing something completely different," he adds.
And, in fact, there's no crossover whatsoever from the other Udi's restaurants on the Braun menu, which is being overseen by chef Richard Sickler, who recently moved to Denver from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where he commanded the kitchen at Brandywine Prime, a top-tier steakhouse, for seven years.
This menu, which mirrors the kind of board you'd find in an upscale gastropub, pimps housemade pork belly nachos; a Polidori sausage sampler; a bone-in, fried half chicken paired with mashed potatoes and beer-infused gravy; a porterhouse pork chop glazed with mustard; fried cheese curds; a slew of burgers; huge, manly salads; habanero-slicked chicken wings, slow-cooked in bacon renderings; and several sandwiches that pay homage to the brat. "We wanted to do a taphouse, and when we asked ourselves what kind of foods go best with craft beers, we knew that comfort foods, with nods toward America and Germany, would be ideal," says Etai, adding that desserts, including an Austrian strudel and housemade soft-serve ice cream, are the work of Jason Lebeau, the former pastry chef of Coohills.
Twenty craft beers on tap, including two sours, one from Crooked Stave and a second from Trinity Brewing, in Colorado Springs, hail from both this state and across the country, and another fifty brews are available by the bottle. A small wine list and several cocktails are also part of the libations lineup -- and there are eleven TVs, as well as a pool table.
The space itself "was in good shape," says Etai, which made it possible, he adds, to do a quick, two-month turnaround. "We refreshed it with a coat of paint, refinished the floors, doubled the taps, added the pool table and TVs, and that's about it -- we had a great space to work with," he adds.
The name, explains Etai, was his grandfather's original last name, which he changed to Bar-on -- the Hebrew version -- once he and his wife fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1939. "It was my grandfather's family name, and we wanted to honor that, so we brought it back," he says.
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Braun, which opens tonight, will serve lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, and the kitchen will introduce Saturday and Sunday brunch the weekend following Thanksgiving. Here's a taste of what you can expect.