Last week ahead of its opening, Larimer Street’s newest restaurant, Beckon, held a series of test dinners during which friends of the business, Instagram influencers, and media folks all gushed over What. Was. Coming. The raves were many — an intimate format, warm hospitality, pretty plating, and comforting dishes. But what comes next will be harder to sell, literally, to the wider Denver audience. Starting Wednesday, Beckon is hosting $95-a-pop, reservation-only dinners across two seatings for four nights a week and with eight set courses.
In order to pull this off, the restaurant’s owners and operators know they’ll need some introduction. For that, it’s important to go back a year or so to the opening of Call, Beckon’s less serious, boozy lunching sister.
Not even eight months after moving into a 900-square-foot Denver bungalow, she skyrocketed to Bon Appétit’s top 10 new restaurants in the country. The expectations that followed were sure to be outrageous, but the team has since girded themselves for phase two of their Denver disruption. They’ve temporarily halted Call’s cafeteria-style evening service, running that counter restaurant from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. most days. Come dinner time, their efforts shift entirely next door to Beckon, Denver’s first chef’s counter-only dinner experience.
To get to the dinner, 34 attendees at most will walk through the front gate each night and past a walled-in patio. The salon, a waiting room, is their first stop in the house, complete with a stocked liquor cabinet and all the proper stemware — the start to any good dinner party. Behind a curtain comes the dining room, one wide U-shaped bar that places each dinner guest in direct contact with head chef Duncan Holmes, plus two more cooks, working behind it. Sommelier Zach Byers walks the room pouring optional wine (or cider or beer) pairings, while manager Allison Anderson floats, checking on timing and service.
From design to execution, the feel is East meets West Coast meets Northern Europe. The counter chairs are that rare kind to sit on comfortably and get lost in the meal for two (or was it more?) hours.
Dinners will change monthly, but the opening menu in honor of December’s full Cold Moon brings out “the observance of winter and the pleasures we take in staying warm, well-fed and content,” according to the reservation page. Translation: Diners here are getting savory Scandinavian doughnut bites (aebleskivers), caviar-topped and rye breaded oysters, coffee-roasted celery root, smoked Colorado trout in its consommé, buttery langoustine, a goat crepinette, and squab with foie mousse and lingonberry. And that’s all before dessert hits. And that’s also excluding baker Tamara Tompkins’ Aspen. Bark flour. Bread. With butter.
After dinner, and likely in a stupor, diners will be able to linger on the patio around a fire pit or stop and chat with an acquaintance who’s been sitting for the whole meal across the table. For what it’s worth, by the end of one ooh- and ahh-filled pre-opening service, Anderson said something along the lines, Our home is your home, you’re always welcome. And it was a small gesture, and it will come attached to a big price tag at the restaurant, but everyone in attendance on this evening cheered at the sentiment. For one night, at least, a small but packed house was caught up enjoying Denver’s next great restaurant.