EDGE Restaurant and Bar opened in the Four Seasons Hotel exactly two years ago today. A modern upscale steakhouse, this restaurant targeted the high-end clientele of the Four Seasons as well as the local Denver dining community. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, EDGE aimed to attract a varied clientele from the business lunch crowd during weekdays, to the theater-goers in the evening, and the wine and cocktails lovers during happy hour.
The Four Seasons tapped chef Simon Purvis to create EDGE, the restaurant at the Denver downtown hotel. Purvis has been with the Four Seasons for twenty-three years starting with the company at its Vancouver location. He has opened restaurants in several other markets but was happy to make Denver his home.
Executive pastry chef Christopher Jordan came from the Four Seasons Saint Louis. He has opened the EDGE with Purvis, crafting a strong and unique pastry program. Jordan describes himself as an American pastry chef, taking traditional American desserts and reinterpreting them. Jordan takes pride in the evolution of the pastry program at EDGE, one that has moved from simplistic preparations to highly technical ones that make the desserts at this steakhouse among the best in Denver.
EDGE has evolved over the last two years. Executive Chef Simon Purvis sat down with Eater to discuss the progress, challenges and changes that EDGE has gone through since opening.
What do you remember from planning for the opening here two years ago? Planning EDGE and the opening was great. It was challenging and exciting and hard. I have opened other Four Seasons restaurants - my main two being the one in Bali and the one in Berlin. I have not done much rebranding, but was comfortable with opening a restaurant and knew there would be some challenges. Those challenges here came from things that designers simply forgot to consider.
What kinds of things are you talking about when you say that? Mostly the ovens. I arrived in July 2010, for opening in October. I came in the kitchen and there was still a little dust. I started looking around underneath the main stove and lo and behold everything under the main range was refrigeration. There were no stoves. From the pastry, between the pastry room and the chocolate room there was a wall. We had to fix that. Those are the two main items.
Did this delay the opening? It delayed our timeline for sure. We had some of our media tastings scheduled for September. There were no ovens in stock that fitted our space so they needed to be ordered. This generally takes six to eight weeks. It delayed some of our tastings but we got them!
How did you craft your first menu here? Well, first we looked at what the competition was doing. We wanted to make sure we stay competitive but we have our own twist on what the market wants. We put together a menu that we thought represented EDGE, a menu that conveyed what the restaurant is about. We have mac & cheese balls, we have our hot stone dishes, we have the best sticky toffee pudding that the world has ever seen and this is not a rumor. Then we did a lot of internal tastings an got to the point where we felt comfortable with our choices.
So, in just a few words how would you define EDGE? EDGE is a progressive American steakhouse, one that people won't find in Europe, one that is actually hard to find in America. There are some other places along the lines of Michael Mina's offering a similar type of product to what we do here, but I think we are better and more focused.
What was your most fond memory of opening EDGE? It was the opening party. That was second to none. The magnitude of the task at hand for us cooking for over 1000 guests with different foods in each room - it just a challenge. We ended up bringing over 30 students from Johnson and Wales to help us. I remember having them all lined up in here in the dining room and we had less lists when the places where everyone had to go. Every area of the kitchen was busy. That is my fondest memory. It was just fantastic.
How has the restaurant evolved? I would say that we have learned and are still learning what our guests want instead of thinking we know that. We make changes to the menu based on feedback from our customers twice a year. We also did tweaks as often as we have to. If a dish isn't selling well will look at it and try to improve it.
What has been your biggest challenge at EDGE? One of the biggest barriers we faced was people thinking that EDGE was a fancy restaurant. We are not. We are a modern steakhouse that offers far superior quality product than some of our competitors, all in a modern setting and at a lower price point.
How had your menu changed since opening Dinner has not changed very much; we have made some tweaks to the dinner menu, but no great transformations. For lunch, we reevaluated. We realized that people wanted burgers. So, instead of doing two burgers on our menu, we created a build your own burger menu. We offer a chicken burger, buffalo, beef, the tuna, and a veggie burger. It's a lot of fun for the guest to pick and play around in the toppings.
What is your favorite part of the week in the kitchen? Definitely a Saturday night and that is because of the adrenaline rush. The worst part for a chef is to be back there cooking and thinking that things are not going well that people are waiting too long. When I come to the dining room and talk to the guests and realize that they are enjoying it, it's great. I like to show people around the kitchen, to show them our grill, and how our operation works.
Tell me about that grill. The grill is made by J & R Manufacturing and we are the only restaurant in Colorado to have this version of it. Oak at Fourteenth has a little smaller version. In the beginning, we cooked with hickory on it and got too much smoke. Then we switched to pecan wood. It is a hard wood what that keeps heat well and you also get a good amount of flavor from it.
How do you deal with customer and media feedback and reviews? You know, every day when I come on, I look at the online reviews on multiple sites and we always talk about them. We take it seriously and try to improve. I get reviewed every night when I come out and talk to people. I can figure out whether they are happy or not and we can fix it. We always want people to leave happy.
What is one thing that you would like people to know about EDGE? That we had fun and approachable and that we take our job seriously, from the bread-and-butter to the coffee at the end of the meal so that every part of the experience is as good as it can be.
Executive Pastry Chef Christopher Jordan, left, and Executive Chef Simon Purvis, right [Photo: Adam Larkey]