The Universal attracted a following with grits and biscuits -- but does it rise to the occasion?

Many restaurants rely on a good happy hour or late-night bar scene to help drive traffic. But breakfast-and-lunch spots have to find another draw, and The Universal, which opened in a strip mall on West 38th Avenue last summer, found it in biscuits rather than craft-beer, grits rather than gin and tonics. See also: - The five best new breakfast spots in Denver - Another best new restaurant candidate loses its opening chef - Denver's ten best new restaurants of 2012

Then in February, a week after the Universal nabbed a place on our list of Denver's ten best new restaurants of 2012 -- a list that included the finalists for the Best New Restaurant award in the Best of Denver 2013 -- Seth Gray, the opening chef, was let go.

That bumped the restaurant off the list of Best New Restaurant contenders, and also pushed it back on the reviewing roster, since we wanted to give Gray's replacement three months to get his sea legs.

Over the last month, I've been eating at the Universal, testing dishes old and new on the menu. Like its biscuits, does the restaurant still rise to the occasion? Find out when my review is posted here tomorrow.


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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz