Welcome to Menu Reveal, where Eater takes an in-depth look at the dishes that are defining Denver’s top restaurants.
“My life is in your food,” said Linda Hampsten Fox when she opened The Bindery in Denver back in October. The longtime private and celebrity chef debuted her first restaurant — an ambitious day-to-night eatery and market in LoHi — calling it the culmination of a cooking career that has taken her around the world, working from Mexico to Italy. Less than six months after opening, Fox has overhauled The Bindery’s standout first menu just in time for spring. New dishes highlight the season both literally and metaphorically, from their ingredients to their presentations on the plate.
“It’s spring in Italy,” she explains of a deep-fried, Roman-Jewish artichoke, served here with a black olive gremolata and salsa verde. At The Bindery, Italian influences reign. But Mexican touches also seep into the more traditional European menu, like in the spatchcocked Boulder hen laid over a sauce of blood-red hibiscus, beet, and Tequila. “It’s sort of dark,” Fox says of this spring statement dish. The plate is inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who for Fox and others represents an “uncompromising depiction of the female experience.” We could argue that these latest food offerings from a confident Denver chef create a similar result.
Here are highlights of The Bindery’s new spring menu:
Fresh vegetables and cheeses:
There is a season for burrata and it’s right now, according to Fox, who has found a new source for the Italian cheese and is serving it at The Bindery just days after the water buffalo are milked in Campania, Italy. The Dama Bianca or Lady in White ($15) is a study in the same color. Across the spring menu, Fox is working in shades of white and beige as well as with multi-color palettes. Here, the spring burrata is paired with celery, fennel, white asparagus, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and nutmeg. “This dish relies wholly on the quality of the cheese,” she adds.
Fox’s father, a Polish immigrant, grew up raising rabbits and pigeons to “have enough to eat,” she explains. “Later, while living in Italy, rabbit became my favorite food ever.” On The Bindery’s opening menu was a rabbit rarebit that quickly became a customer favorite. And for spring, Fox has transformed that toast topped with rabbit and pecans into a pie ($11) featuring the same ingredients. While it’s around, this deceptively savory pie should be ordered by at least one person in every dining party. A dollop of mustard “gelato” makes for the ultimate counterpoint to the smoky meat, flaky crust, and crunchy candied nuts. It’s a traditional peasant food turned on its head, and “my father would’ve loved it,” Fox says.
Lamb, beef, and chicken:
Meats on The Bindery’s spring menu range from spicy lamb with pasta ($19), to milk and honey-brined chops with tabbouleh, and pepper steak with salt-crusted potatoes ($37). For a Sicilian tomato trapanese sauce, Fox adds pistachios, mint, and a substantial amount of Calabrian chilies to coat fat, house-made pappardelle noodles and stand up to the lamb meat. She developed her lamb chops ($39) over the course of four years, combining Earl Grey tea with milk and honey to give the meat a subtle sweetness. A typical peppercorn-crusted steak here becomes more subtle with a green, black, and pink peppercorn confit. And “because salt and pepper are an undeniable marriage,” slightly dehydrated potatoes, boiled and salt-crusted, are served on the side of it.