Instinctual and inspired – that's how chef wner Michael Shiell describes the making of his new eatery, Milk & Honey Bar Kitchen tucked in the heart of a 150-year-old building on LoDo's celebrated Larimer Square. A soft opening for the new space (1414 Larimer Street) took place last Thursday, with the grand opening set for Saturday June 11 at 6 p.m.
In its completed state – for which the transformation took over a year longer than originally promised – the dim space balances sensations of softness and opulence with storied grit. Dark wood, bare brick and glittering gold accents are surrounded by leather banquettes that line the room, with black snake-skin booths nestled into intermittent nooks. Beyond accordion doors is a quiet courtyard and patio, the entrance beyond the Larimer breezeway.
Yearning to strike gold with the concept and engaging environment as he literally did when "completely gutting" the historic building, Shiell – formerly of Cherry Creek's Michael's – signed a lease for the space in February 2013. Developed in concert with Lance Barto – most recently of Brazen – the globally influenced menu is divided into: charcuterie, bites, small plates, shellfish, plates and extra stuff, along with an assortment of desserts. Anticipated favorites include the foie gras bonbons – intended to educate Denver eaters in molecular gastronomy – crusted in cashew brittle, dipped in liquid nitrogen, and alongside a bright cherry syrup. Creamy house ricotta is colorfully topped with fennel, honey vinaigrette and pea tendrils, grown locally on aquaponic racks reserved for Milk & Honey produce. The entrees presently exclude strict vegetarians, however the menu will rotate based on available ingredients and diners' demands.
The beverage program was created with a "regional and reasonable" wine focus, offering approximately 150 labels and varieties by the glass. The cocktail menu is bound to generate buzz about town, highlighting house-made elixirs and tonics infused with vitamins, superfoods and essential oils. Try, for instance, the Plymouth on the Rocks, infused with with yohimbe – a bark extract said to be an active ingredient in the prescription drugs Viagra and Ciallis. Classics will be available as well.
With 160 seats, including a private wine room, guests can make reservations for the main portion of the restaurant or there is ample first-come, first-served seating at a deep-set bar top designed to give enough space for full-service dining.