Alex Seidel has a leg up on the farm-to-table movement: he operates his own farm to supply meat, dairy and produce to his first restaurant, Fruition, as well as Mercantile, which opened as a market, deli and dining room in Union Station in early September. Mercantile's menu is punctuated with preserves, pickles, cured meats and aged cheeses, many from Fruition Farms and Mercantile's own kitchen. Seasonal, local and foraged ingredients speak for themselves in simple presentations amid house-made pastas, subtle sauces and unfussy platings. Whole branzino propped upright on a serving platter and massive, Flintstone-esque tomahawk pork chops highlight the list of head-turning "Family Dinner" entrees. A well-trained staff moves with ease among widely spaced tables and booths, serving guests with with nonchalant grace that seems almost old-fashioned by modern, casual standards. Mercantile's style and comfortable sophistication fit perfectly in the restored grandeur of Union Station, which, while stunning, remains grounded in its roots as a hub of commerce and transportation.6) The Nickel 1100 14th Street 720-889-2128
When the Nickel opened mid-summer in the Hotel Teatro, it had a big void to fill, created when Prima and Restaurant Kevin Taylor closed to make way for a complete remodel of the hotel's ground floor. With only one restaurant to serve the hotel and its guests as well as hungry theater-goers and Denverites looking for a posh night out, the Nickel and its menu, centered on wood-grilled meats and locally sourced produce, has risen to the challenge. Oak- and cherry-wood smoke add subtle campfire touches to grilled octopus in a salad of celery, green olives and potatoes as well as to simple bites like toasted levain topped with rosemary goat cheese. Such rustic entrees as lamb Bolognese over ricotta gnocchi and short ribs Genovese warm the soul with strong Italian influence. Dark woods, gold and brown textiles, high, gauzy curtains and comfortable chairs swathed in leather give the Nickel the relaxed but sophisticated air of a period country manor -- fitting for one of Denver's top hotel restaurants. Keep reading for five more of the best new restaurants in Denver in 2014.