When chef Mary Nguyen opened Olive & Finch at 1552 East 17th Avenue in 2013, she never expected it to be anything more than a passion project. "The success of Olive & Finch has been a surprise, because I really opened it to meet my own needs," the chef explains.
But now the homey cafe, bakery and restaurant has become her whole restaurant world (she closed her first restaurant, P17, last summer) — and that world is about to expand. A new Olive & Finch will open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, February 1, in Cherry Creek North. Located at the corner of East First Avenue and Cook Street, the younger sibling to the Uptown original will include more square footage to allow Nguyen to present a wider range of menu items and pastries for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The basic idea behind the restaurant will remain the same, however. Breakfast will include baked goods as well as menu items ranging from egg-topped hashes and sandwiches to quinoa pancakes to slow-cooked North African shakshuka. Everything is made from scratch, including granola, fluffy biscuits and fresh-pressed juices. A full coffee program perks up morning offerings, and brunch-style cocktails like the Good Morning Mary, Greyhound, Screwdriver and mimosa are available by the glass or carafe.
Breakfast is served all day, but at 11 a.m., lunch sandwiches (many named after Nguyen's family and friends) and plated entrees are added, giving options of sixteen hot and cold sandwiches, a variety of meal-sized salads, daily soups and elegant, plated dishes that are new to the Olive & Finch repertoire. Nguyen uses sous-vide techniques and high-tech combi ovens typically found only in full-service restaurants so that proteins can be cooked to temperature while service times are kept low in the fast-casual setting. So a six-ounce, demi-glace-laced bistro filet comes out tender and medium-rare atop a bed of succotash and chimichurri, for just under $15.
In fact, nothing on the menu exceeds $15, which Nguyen feels is critical to maintaining a casual, neighborhood ambience. She notes that keeping costs low is possible "if you're really conscious of what you're making and you try to be sustainable. We try to use everything and try to be respectful of the food."
The pastry program has also been expanded, so you'll find more baked goods at the new Olive & Finch, courtesy of pastry chef and assistant general manager Amber Otis, who has been with Nguyen since the original opened. Many items are gluten-free, including home-style cookies as well as fancier desserts like coconut cake and mousse-filled chocolate domes.
Olive & Finch has offered catering since the beginning — but with a larger kitchen in this new spot, Nguyen is putting more emphasis on the program, with set catering menus for boxed lunches and hot items as well as off-menu options. Cakes and other special-order pastries can also be ordered for weddings and other events.
The new Cherry Creek location will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. beginning on March 1 that will include $3 drinks, tartines and small plates. Once the weather warms up, a spacious patio facing Cook Street will be decked out with lounge-style seating and a kids' area. Keep reading for more photos.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.