Leading the charge as one of the first openings of 2015, Chowder Room has set up shop on South Broadway. The seafood spot comes to the Baker neighborhood from chef Matt Stein—whose resume includes Le Cirque in NYC and California-based King's Seafood Company culinary group for 23 years—and his wife, Carrie, who has spent years in the hospitality industry.
The pair moved back to Colorado from California a few years ago, and bemoaned the lack of seafood options. Enter Chowder Room, which in addition to the namesake dish, offers a menu that samples various takes on the cuisine. Most of the fish is sourced from the Seattle Fish Company, though some purchases are made directly from Maine, Oregon, and California.
"Seafood is universally popular, but where someone is from reflects the experiences they've had with it. If they're from the Midwest, they might be most used to fried fish; if they're from the Northeast, maybe it's the lobster roll....There's something for everybody here," says Matt Stein.
The star of the show is the chowder, offered in traditional New England style, a spicy red version loaded with fish, plus a rotating of-the-day option, which could include saffron and mussels, Pacific Northwest salmon, or Italian mountain chowder. Each is available in a cup, bowl, or sourdough bread bowl. There's also a vegan and gluten-free type, made with homemade curry, coconut, tofu, roasted cauliflower, and eggplant.
Additionally, you'll find oysters from both coasts, peel-and-eat shrimp, salads, sandwiches like a fried cod fillet option, and plates such as calamari—either fried or baked—crab cakes, barbecue shrimp, grilled swordfish, and pan-roasted Alamosa striped bass. A simple list of sides and desserts complements the main attractions, ranging from steamed rice or sauteed spinach, to a triple chocolate parfait or the whiskey banana coupe.
In addition to wine and beer (nearly all the choices are in-state brews), a list of specialty cocktails will be served by the Steins' son, Zane, who has spent time at Linger. The Nor'easter features Jim Beam, maple, sumac, ginger beer, and lemon, while the Shark Bit (But Otherwise Fine) mixes Colorado Wilderness vodka, blood orange, and soda.
The family did most of the renovation work on the 40-seat space themselves, with Matt in charge of the overall design. From sanding to staining, the finished product is a labor of love from the trio, who got an assist for the original artwork from fellow family member and illustrator Richard Stein. The cozy venue takes cues for its seafaring vibe from the woodwork, New England antiques, and ocean-themed artifacts adorning the walls.
Chowder Room is located at 560 South Broadway and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday hours TBD.