What was once Kevin Taylor Restaurant in the Hotel Teatro has been transformed into a light, airy, and attractive restaurant: The Nickel. With windows that finally bring light into the space, the concept centers on a design and cuisine inspired by Rocky Mountain heritage. Culinary veteran Jake Linzinmeir of Blau + Associates is the driving force behind the new venture, with executive chef Chris Thompson leading the kitchen.
Thompson most recently served as executive chef at acclaimed San Francisco spot A16, and will work with executive sous chef Alexander Jun, who also made his way to The Nickel via San Francisco, where he spent time as chef tournant at Michael Mina's RN 74.
Drawing on inspiration from Colorado and the region, the menu highlights seasonal fare with locally sourced ingredients from farms, markets and ranches. "The goal is to be a local and independent restaurant," chef Thompson shares. "What matters to me is that we stay seasonal and develop relationships with local farmers and producers. Right now, I really love the wagyu we are able to feature from Emma Farms and the cheeses from Broken Shovel and Fruition Farms," he adds.
A highlight of the kitchen, producing some great dishes on the menu, is the stunning wood-fire grill. Chef Thompson now uses cherry wood and oak in it, but he plans to change the wood seasonally; peach is next in the fall.
Look for dishes like wood-grilled Colorado lamb ribs, rotisserie chicken and braised beef shortribs with grilled Palisade peaches and shaved horseradish. In addition to lunch and dinner offerings, there will also be an in-room dining menu for hotel guests that ranges from Olathe sweet corn bisque with dungeness crab to a quinoa burger.
The beverage program—spearheaded by food and beverage director David Cruz—features house barrel-aged spirits, local craft beers and an extensive wine list, with the Barrel Bar as the centerpiece of the space. Local spirits are incorporated in many of the drinks including Montanya rum, Breckenridge Distillery whiskey, Caprock gin, and Spring 44 vodka.
"We tried to go local as much as we can," Jake Linzinmeir says. "We have weaved many local spirits into our menu. Our barrel-aged negronis are made with Caprock gin and the peach juleps with whiskey from Breckenridge Distillery," he adds. "We love and respect mixology but our program is more about the vintage cocktail. Sure we have the custom ice cubes and the glass frosters, but in the end, our cocktails is more on the vintage classic side."
Winter Session, a local leather handcrafting company, was tapped to create the bar menu covers and coasters. A highlight of the bar is the high-tech/low tech custom tap system holding everything from beers to wines and cocktails.
The focal point of the Study coffee bar, where breakfast is now served in the hotel, is an experiential roasting operation created in partnership with small-batch specialists Method Roasters. Coffee drinks and more from this space will be available throughout the hotel, including in-room and at The Nickel.
Those familiar with the space will easily notice the drastic transformation executed with design assistance from Studio Frank. The Telluride-based architectural firm incorporated unique elements into the space: the table tops are made of reclaimed bleachers, the bases of repurposed vintage stamps, and the leather stools and dining chairs are custom-designed to fit the rustic feel of the concept. The modern yet classic bar separates the dining area from the semi-open state-of-the-art kitchen.
How did the restaurant get its name? It is a throwback to the restaurant's and hotel's storied past. The property, which came into existence in 1911 as the Denver Tramway Building, was once used to collect nickels from people riding streetcars downtown and back into the theater district.
The Nickel opens today and serves lunch and dinner daily. The Study will serve coffee every day starting at 6:30 a.m.