Outside of Coors Field, amidst the rapidly burgeoning luxury apartments on the corner at 1900 Chestnut Place, sits The Pig & the Sprout. It’s the latest effort from owner Andy Ganick, famous for his “bacon restaurant” The Berkshire. Look up at the building and you’re greeted by a smiling pig with a budding plant beneath its feet. “This restaurant is about balance,” Ganick told the Food Report at a recent preview event in advance of the restaurant’s opening this Friday, June 24.
To hear Ganick tell it, the name of his new project comes from a conversation he had with a customer complimenting her experience at The Berkshire. The magnitude of the woman’s feedback really hit home when she explained, “No, you don’t understand: We’re vegetarians!”
So he went forward with The Pig & the Sprout, not solely pushed by pork alone but wanting to invite the greener side of cooking to be a part of his new menu.
The restaurant is aesthetically pleasing in every way. Large windows on the forefront of the building bathe the dining room and upstairs salon in natural light. Shelves of books purchased from a private collector’s library greet you around corners; while the word “Oink” in natural moss font covers the back wall. The downstairs bar is reclaimed black walnut from fallen trees in Denver, with Edison-style string lights bringing a patio feel.
The impressive opening team includes executive chef Rhett Clark, formerly of Mercantile, with Caleb Russell behind the bar after mixing things up at Milk & Honey in Larimer Square. Sommelier Anna Martin oversees an exciting wine list, available in addition to 20 craft beer taps and an adventurous cocktail menu.
We started our evening with the Spring Fling. A refreshing aperitif, it rang like an adult lemonade from a combination of Dolin Blanc vermouth, Lillet Rose, crème de violette, and lemon and orange bitters.
Then came our first course: a summer vegetable salad of English peas, grilled frisée, house ricotta, sugar snap peas, radish, crispy favas, and avocado with a light, peppered oil. We paired it with the Gin is Vodka, Green with Envy: Colorado gin, Lillet Blanc, sweet pea, lemon and rosemary.
Next came the Colorado-sourced striped bass crudo, with white gazpacho, green grapes and almonds for crunch. Paired with a Muscadet Sevre-et-Main cuvée, the gazpacho offered a nice nuttiness that complemented the creaminess and minerality of the wine.
It was time to get back to basics with sliced brisket, this one dressed with gochujang barbecue sauce and charred scallions. The sauce was tangy, with good spiciness on the back, paired with a lambrusco from La Collina which offered that slight sparkling-wine frothiness to emphasize the beef’s marbling.
We went surf-and-turf and then back for the next course: steelhead trout made bagna cauda style —which means “hot bath” in Italian — garnished with roasted cauliflower. The dish was exceptional and very different from most trout. Farmed from Loch Eives in Scotland and cooked medium-rare, it had a pink tinge and resembles (and even tastes) like salmon.
It came paired with a pretty cool wine: Wind Gap Soif from the north coast of California. The beverage is the result of carbonic maceration, an interesting wine-making technique where the juice is fermented inside the grape before pressed.
We concluded dinner with house vanilla ice cream covered with Rittenhouse Bourbon cherries, bacon-fat peanut brittle and brown-butter crème fraîche. I used to think vanilla was boring, but it turns out if you add tres magnifique ingredients like this on top, well, opinions can change. This came with the restaurant’s Where There’s Smoke, made with mezcal, blueberries, lemon, sage and garbanzo froth. I had yet to find a mezcal cocktail that I cared for until this. The blueberries cut the intensity of the alcohol; and to have the sweetness of the cherries on top of it all? Pure magic.
The Pig & the Sprout will no doubt be bustling. It’s the kind of place you could find Rockies-goers crowding around communal tables full of beers and burgers, or couples on their date night drinking cocktails in a cozy corner booth. It has a Southern charm about it that’s both inviting and relaxing.
Or, as Ganick puts it: “Flip-flops and suits are equally welcome.”
[Images: Dionne Roberts]