DENVER
The story: Old Major is Chef/Owner Justin Brunson’s shrine to the swine, with a kitchen that produces its own charcuterie and butchers all its animals for the menu. But it’s not just meat, there’s seafood that’s locally sourced, just like the meats, to ensure a true farm-to-table approach to dining in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood. (The restaurant’s name comes from the name of the pig in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”)

Old Major is named after the pig in George Orwell's "Animal Farm."

Old Major is named after the pig in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

Getting some greens with the spring salad ($10) with sugar snap peas, carrots, radishes, avocado, and green goddess dressing.

Getting some greens with the spring salad ($10) with sugar snap peas, carrots, radishes, avocado, and green goddess dressing.

Why I went: When planning my trip to Denver for my niece’s college graduation, I asked her to help me make reservations at some of the popular restaurants and Old Major was one of her favorites. It wasn’t on my list but since it was her favorite I had to check it out, along with the rest of our family (about seven of us).

Tables, backing and chairs emphasize the casual vibe with polished wood.

Tables, backing and chairs emphasize the casual vibe with polished wood.

Meats hanging in a glass refrigerated locker right in the dining room.

Meat hanging in a glass refrigerated locker right in the dining room.

Mussels with XO sauce ($14) was a comforting bowl of mussels with white wine and Tuscan kale and pickled bean sprouts.

Mussels with XO sauce ($14) was a comforting bowl of mussels with white wine and Tuscan kale and pickled bean sprouts.

The vibe: The large space, with the ubiquitous brick walls (seen all over Denver), has a spacious dining room with a casual but polished feel. Right in the dining room is a meat locker with meats hanging, some being cured for the in-house charcuterie. The large, brightly lit kitchen looks like a large research lab or supermarket butcher house. The restaurant attracts a lot of locals who looked like they were ready for a creative but hearty meal, like a big family dinner.

Pickles in jars line the room and shelves around the dining room.

Pickles in jars line the room and shelves around the dining room.

Great Divide Titan IPA ($6) was very hoppy

Great Divide Titan IPA ($6) was very hoppy

The menu: An interesting mix of small and large plates with ingredients coming from the land and sea, from the hamachi crudo ($18) to the nose-to-tail plate ($29). The prices feel a bit on the high side, so it helps to share a few items. There are a couple of butcher’s specials that isn’t for the faint of heart. For example, our family dug into the 3-lb. pork chop ($65), a large platter of tender pork (dressed with maldon salt and pork demi-glace) that comes to the table with roasted seasonal vegetables with creamy potatoes. You can supplement the large platters with sides such as potato salads and pork fat French fries.

Shaved asparagus flatbread ($12) with mushroom duxelles, Taleggio cheese, wood sorrel, chili, lemon vinaigrette

Shaved asparagus flatbread ($12) with mushroom duxelles, Taleggio cheese, wood sorrel, chili, lemon vinaigrette

We tried a few of the special fresh oysters of the day that came with a mignonette and cocktail sauce.

We tried a few of the special fresh oysters of the day that came with a mignonette and cocktail sauce.

Boulder Natural Chicken Breast ($20) was tender with fried polenta, spring vegetables, and chicken jus

Boulder Natural Chicken Breast ($20) was tender with fried polenta, spring vegetables, and chicken jus

The booze: An iPad is used to showcase the large selection of craft beer and wine. It can be overwhelming which is why I went with my server’s recommendation when I asked that I wanted to try a Colorado beer. He recommended a hoppy Great Divide Titan IPA ($6) from Denver.

My favorite dish: Perfect for the season, I enjoyed the shaved asparagus flatbread ($12) that had mushroom duxelles, wood sorrel, chili, lemon vinaigrette. But I feel the key was the Taleggio cheese blending with the asparagus with a nicely done flatbread charred by the oven.

Nose-to-tail plate ($29) was interesting in concept but seemed a bit too sophisticated for the restaurant concept. It included a Toulouse sausage, braised belly, smoked rib, crispy ears, peas, mushrooms, and baby potatoes.

Nose-to-tail plate ($29) was interesting in concept but seemed a bit too sophisticated for the restaurant concept. It included a Toulouse sausage, braised belly, smoked rib, crispy ears, peas, mushrooms, and baby potatoes.

A peek at the busy and large open kitchen.

A peek at the busy and large open kitchen.

Insider tip: Happy hour is big in Denver, and Old Major has a large bar next to the dining room and an outdoor space where you can grab a nice glass of beer and munch on the Old Major charcuterie plate ($8 per person).

The last bite: While sometimes it might seem the kitchen had a heavy hand with the salt, there’s no question the meats are cooked with care in respect of the animal that sacrificed itself for diners. But the menu offers something for everyone, making it an enjoyable dining experience for a large group with varying tastes.

3 lb. pork chop platter ($65)  serves 2 to 6 people (more like 6) and was perfectly cooked and impressively comes to the table with cuts and bones, and roasted seasonal vegetables with pork demi-glace.

3 lb. pork chop platter ($65) serves 2 to 6 people (more like 6) and was perfectly cooked and impressively comes to the table with cuts and bones, and roasted seasonal vegetables with pork demi-glace.

Diners enjoying their meals at the large dining room of Old Major, with a colorful pig overlooking from above.

Diners enjoying their meals at the large dining room of Old Major, with a colorful pig overlooking from above.

The rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps

3-snaps

 

 

The deets: Old Major, 3316 Tejon St., Denver, Colo. PH: 720.420.0622. Open daily for dinner, 5 to 10 p.m.; weekend brunch, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. oldmajordenver.com

Click to add a blog post for Old Major on Zomato

One Response to A Review of Swine Shrine Old Major in Denver

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Love the name of the restaurant. It definitely says what it is! I am totally eying that nose-to-tail plate, not to mention that humongous pork chop.