First Look

First Look: School Is in Session at Teachers' Lounge Food and Drink

Bison short rib over Anson Mills grits at Teachers' Lounge.
Bison short rib over Anson Mills grits at Teachers' Lounge. Linnea Covington
What: Teachers' Lounge Food and Drink

Where: 1250 Welton Street

When: Open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

For more info:
Visit slatedenver.com/dining or call 303-292-5000
click to enlarge The bar at Teachers' Lounge in the Slate hotel. - LINNEA COVINGTON
The bar at Teachers' Lounge in the Slate hotel.
Linnea Covington

What we saw: Normally, only school staff can enter the teachers' lounge, but at the bar and eatery at the new Slate hotel, which opened in the former home of the Emily Griffith Opportunity School, everyone is welcome. And at Teachers' Lounge Food and Drink, the food, beverage and lounge offerings prove way better than those at any public school — especially the boozy drinks.

The cocktail program pays homage to local spirits, beer and wine. Have a glass of Barbara d'Asti from Attimo Wine and a pint of beer crafted by Great Divide Brewery. Or go for one of the beautifully executed cocktails featuring spirits by Leopold Bros., Breckenridge Bourbon and the Family Jones, to name a few. Named after the famous schoolmarm herself, the Emily, made with Leopold Bros. peach whiskey, Benedictine, apple, cherry bitters, brandy and Attimo sparkling wine, should definitely be on your list to try.

On the food side, chef Michael Poompan has taken the reins of the New American concept. He's using an array of Colorado-based products and purveyors, including bison from Rock River Ranches, goat cheese by Jumpin' Good Goat Cheese, honey from Bee Squared Honey, greens from Altius Farms and charcuterie handcrafted by River Bear American Meats.
click to enlarge Order a plate of mussels and fries at the bar at Teachers' Lounge. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Order a plate of mussels and fries at the bar at Teachers' Lounge.
Linnea Covington

As a hotel restaurant, Teachers' Lounge offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner and a late-night menu as well as weekend brunch. Choose from dishes such as a bright salad with fennel, apple and cider vinaigrette; potato leek gratin with Haystack Snowmass raclette cheese; mussels with fries; and bison short ribs laced with Colette Farmhouse Ale. The bar also serves smaller options like bite-sized sandwiches stuffed with mortadella and white cheddar; homemade potato chips with smoked trout roe and shallot crème fraîche dip; and Bow and Arrow cornbread with local honey.

Like that of a true teachers' lounge, the setting feels very adult. And while there aren't white tablecloths, the tableside service has an elegance to it that's akin to fine dining. Not that kids aren't welcome — there is a menu just for them with all the usual fare such as burgers and grilled cheese. The bar area proves more laid-back, and is flanked with plenty of televisions to catch whatever game is on.
click to enlarge LINNEA COVINGTON
Linnea Covington
What surprised us: Education pioneer Emily Griffith founded the school in 1916 with the goal of creating a place for people of all ages and races to learn. It became one of the first trade schools in the country, and moved to a new location in 2015. Now, it's called The Slate: Tapestry Collection by Hilton, a hotel complete with meeting spaces, modern rooms and, of course, Teachers' Lounge.

But the coolest thing right now about Teachers' Lounge is the actual building that houses the restaurant. The developer, Stonebridge Companies, may have gutted the hundred-year-old space, but the soul of the school remains. You can see it in the wide-open hallways, concrete stairwells going toward the bathrooms, heavy metal doors partitioning off the hotel from the social areas, and in the facade itself.

The restaurant doesn't speak to the history as much as the suites, doors and hallways do, but it does have enough Denver ties to make it stand out. Down the line, perhaps the team will embrace missed opportunities with the schoolhouse theme such as lunch trays, elevated school cafeteria fare and adult juice boxes. But for now, the eatery is finding its groove in one of the most unique hotels in Denver.
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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington