The bar near the entrance of Acorn

The bar near the entrance of Acorn

DENVER
The story: Opened in 2013, Acorn calls itself an eclectic, contemporary bar and grill, which is fitting since it’s inside the funky and hip The Source, a gourmet marketplace in a refurbished foundry. It’s one of the Denver restaurants leading the way in farm-to-table or seasonally sourced dining, featuring dishes cooked in a wood-fire oven.

Why I went: Acorn ended up being the dinner spot my niece selected for her graduation night after a day of ceremonies at her university. It’s in Denver’s River North District, which is an industrial area that’s starting to get a lot of new restaurants and bars. Executive Chef/Owner Steven Redzikowski has worked at some major restaurants across the country (including New York’s Le Cirque and Jean-Georges, and Douglas Keane’s former Cyrus in Healdsburg) before settling in Colorado.

View of the kitchen

View of the kitchen

Soft shell crab in masa "tempura", avocado, yuzu pickled vegetables ($16)

Soft shell crab in masa “tempura”, avocado, yuzu pickled vegetables ($16)

Hamachi crudo with pickled enoki mushrooms, watermelon radish, fried maitakes, avocado, and ponzu ($14)

Hamachi crudo with pickled enoki mushrooms, watermelon radish, fried maitakes, avocado, and ponzu ($14)

House-made spaghetti with Isabelle Farm spinach, ricotta, pine nut breadcrumbs, and house-made sausage ($15)

House-made spaghetti with Isabelle Farm spinach, ricotta, pine nut breadcrumbs, and house-made sausage ($15). I was surprised the sauce wasn’t tomato-based, so I yearned for that in a way.

The vibe: Playing off the red brick and transient feel of The Source, Acorn also has a funky feel, with a prominent graffiti mural on the main wall of the dining room. Early on everyone’s gathered around the bar near the front, but eventually all the tables get filled. We ended up dining upstairs, which had a homey feel with a view of the stormy weather we had outside.

The menu: Redzikowski’s menu would fit in easily in the Bay Area, with its shared plates concept and dishes that emphasizes local ingredients with a mix of vegetables, fish and meats. We all ordered a couple of dishes that sounded interesting to us, including the signature tomato braised meatballs ($14) with Anson Mills stone ground grits, burrata, and basil, and kale and apple salad ($12).

The dining room with graffiti mural

The dining room with graffiti mural

Low alcohol cocktails

Low alcohol cocktails

Kale and apple salad with candied almonds, parmesan, and togarashi (Japanese chili powder), $12

Kale and apple salad with candied almonds, parmesan, and togarashi (Japanese chili powder), $12

Oak-smoked short rib with roasted baby beets and whipped goat cheese and mustard gremolata ($16)

Oak-smoked short rib with roasted baby beets and whipped goat cheese and mustard gremolata ($16)

The booze: A nice selection of specialty cocktails, including a few low-alcohol options that my sisters went with. I ended up ordering a glass of red wine that came in a cute miniature carafe.

My favorite dish: I had mentioned I really liked the kale salad because of the way they really shredded the kale (a different presentation than what I’ve seen in the Bay Area), but I also really liked the oak-smoked potatoes and asparagus ($14), a dish elevated with the ramp creme fraiche. There was a nice smokey taste.

Oak-smoked potatoes & asparagus with ramp creme fraiche, spinach and sunflower seeds ($14)

Oak-smoked potatoes & asparagus with ramp creme fraiche, spinach and sunflower seeds ($14)

My glass of red wine

My glass of red wine

Oak grilled rocky junior half chicken ($27) is one of two large plates on the menu, served with green garlic and gruyere bread pudding, carrots, asparagus, and ramp pesto-whipped potatoes.

Oak grilled rocky junior half chicken ($27) is one of two large plates on the menu, served with green garlic and gruyere bread pudding, carrots, asparagus, and ramp pesto-whipped potatoes. The chicken was cooked nicely but I was really enthralled by the green garlic and gruyere bread pudding, which had the texture of a green mashed potato.

A look at the artsy marketplace called The Source

A look at the artsy marketplace called The Source

Insider tip: Since this is at The Source, make sure you arrive a few minutes early for your dinner so you can explore the place. There’s a huge bar in the center so you can get a drink before dinner, but there’s also a cute coffee shop and wine store, to name a few.

The last bite: While the front of house can be a bit flighty (they gave away our table even though we arrived early), the overall pacing of the food from the kitchen and the flavorful, bold dishes with fresh ingredients make Acorn an exciting place to explore.

Window view and a bit of the stormy clouds indicative of the weather I had while in Denver

Window view and a bit of the stormy clouds indicative of the weather I had while in Denver

Tomato braised meatballs with stone ground grits, burrata, and basil ($14)

Tomato braised meatballs with stone ground grits, burrata, and basil ($14)

An unusual approach to butterscotch pudding. It was lighter than what I expected but still hit the spot at the end of the meal.

An unusual approach to butterscotch pudding. It was lighter than what I expected but still hit the spot at the end of the meal.

I liked there bus station (and you can catch a glimpse of my little niece running out the restaurant).

I liked there bus station (and you can catch a glimpse of my little niece running out the restaurant).

The rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps

3-snaps

 

 

The deets: 3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver. PH: 720.542.3721. Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Major credit cards, reservations accepted. www.denveracorn.com

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2 Responses to A Review of Acorn Restaurant in Denver’s The Source

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    I’m fixated on that crudo. Looks divine! What a cute place. I’ve actually never been to Denver, except for the airport. Makes me long to have a long layover there now. 😉

    • Ben Ben says:

      Carolyn, it would have to be a loooong layover because the airport is dang far from the city (about 30 minutes)