Chef Sean Kelly will open Desmond's Bar and Grill in the Park Hill neighborhood at 2246 Oneida Street. Set in a space briefly occupied by Table Top, the new 80 seat cafe is the first project to bring Kelly back to his culinary roots since he closed Something Else nine years ago. The chef owned part of LoHi Steak Bar and was active in its operations until last year.
Kelly is an intense man who does not boast and has never sought the spotlight. He is understated, but smiling big with excitement to be back in the game, in the neighborhood he's called home for two decades. "I am going to cook; I have missed that," he says. "It will be a neighborhood spot. I would rather not put myself in a box now, but rather show guests my vision when I open."
The menu will be more focused on small shareable plates than entrees. "It will be similar to the menu at Aubergine: Small Mediteranean-inspired plates, with some rotating entrees, not quite sure how many of them yet, but it will start small," the chef revealed. With dinner service only, Tuesday through Saturday, Desmond's will complement its fare with a full bar, a good selection beer and wine, in bottles and on tap.
A native of New Jersey, Kelly remains a local culinary icon and one of the city's most beloved (and dearly missed) players. When he moved to Denver, he quickly gained the reputation of a star. His talent and work ethic landed him a job as the opening chef at Barolo Grill, a restaurant that is now in its 23rd year, where he spent three years.
He then opened Aubergine Cafe, a small restaurant that occupied the space Mizuna is in now. For seven years, the brave 40 seater offered food that would soon be labeled farm-to-table. Forward-thinking, Aubergine used freshly picked, locally grown organic vegetables and all-natural meats in all its dishes. It gained a loyal following that Kelly hoped to tap into when he opened the Biscuit in the space that now houses Beast + Bottle. That was a short-lived endeavor. The sale of Aubergine at the top of its value followed shortly after the Biscuit shuttered. Kelly opened the jewel box that was Clair de Lune (the space is now Fruition) in 2002. The stunning restaurant turned briefly into Something Else in 2004.
And now Kelly returns with a restaurant he can call his own. Desmond's — named after the great saxophone player Paul Desmond — will open in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for updates.