February is dominated by Valentine's Day and we are about to spread a special kind of chain love starting right now: the love for our local restaurants and chefs. Few people know Denver's dining scene as well as restaurant critic Stacey Brugeman of 5280 Magazine and even fewer speak out about it without holding back- more than once a month. Eater asked Brugeman to share what eatery she is in love with and tell you why. She chose chef Mary Nguyen's Olive & Finch.
This February, I adore Mary Nguyen's new Olive & Finch. At her petite café, Nguyen—also of Parallel Seventeen and Street Kitchen Asian Bistro—is brave enough to serve a braised beef tongue sandwich, smart enough to grind Corvus coffee beans and offer goat's milk, and talented enough to turn out one of the best fish sandwiches I've had in some time. The Jamal (named for the chef's brother-in-law) wedges blackened tilapia, a tangy citrus tartar sauce, capers, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, avocado, and roasted tomato between slices of ciabatta. As if menu items like this aren't enough to remind you that Olive & Finch isn't your ordinary café, Nguyen lovingly outfitted the space with antique chandeliers, an oversized mirror imported from France, a community table made of sassafras timber, and napkins sewn from mix-matched fabrics that look like they are straight out of Etsy. It's become increasingly common in recent years for top toques to open casual offshoots. With Olive & Finch Nguyen didn't just follow this trend, she perfected it.
Every day, the recipient of the praises will have a chance to pass the love around. Come back tomorrow to hear what restaurant chef Nguyen is obsessing over this month.