1515 Restaurant in LoDo

by Grace Boyle on August 8, 2011

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1515 Restaurant will wow you.

Their food is creative – you will find the use of Molecular Gastronomy mixed with contemporary American dishes underlined with classical techniques.

I recently dined at the independently owned fine-dining establishment in Lower Downtown (LoDo) of Denver for the first time.

I was greeted warmly be Gene Tang – 1515’s founder, co-owner and Sommelier. Tang’s first restaurant opened when he was just 27, after selling that successful restaurant he soon found himself running three other restaurants in the Denver metro area. After retiring, he found himself checking out 1515 Market Street, a building constructed in the late 1800’s. Turns out, he couldn’t stay away. Within three months, he bought the space and 1515 Restaurant was born.

I was intrigued with 1515’s accolades. After meeting and talking with Gene it is clear he goes above and beyond:

  • They were the first restaurant in Denver to be certified for ‘Sous Vide’ cooking. Sous Vide is French for under pressure, a slow cooking process that involves vacuum sealing the food then placing it in 127 degrees (F) water for 8 hours to enhance the protein.
  • 1515 practices their Green Initiative, using local products, composting, recycling, leveraging their roof-top greenhouse and even focusing on water and electrical saving devices. They were even one of the first restaurants to be certified as an “Environmental Achievement for Restaurants” by the Denver Department of Environmental Health.
  • They have 500 bottles of wine and subsequently, have been awarded the Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for the past 10 years, with the distinction of “great value” wine.
  • Chef Chuck James and the 1515 kitchen team were invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in July of 2010, to celebrate their fine cooking skills.

1515 takes their food seriously, treats their customers with respect and genuine service and the experience is exquisite.

The food. Oh, the food. I believe this was one of the more innovative meals I have ever had.

We went with the Chef’s Dégustation menu which includes five courses (which turned into seven with a dessert and amuse bouche to start).

1515 The Food:

Amuse bouche – fresh salmon, paprika oil and potato covered with a watercress leaf.

Shrimp bisque – lobster BLT with crème fraiche

Seared Scallop – compressed orange tempura with tarragon pesto

Soft Poached Fried Egg – udon pasta, truffled, asparagus, mache leafs and pickled radish

Colorado Striped Bass – haricot verts rogout, demi, chive oil and fried carrots

Sous Video Wagyu – ricotto gnocchi, arugula, tomatoes, pickled cipollini onions, broken raspberry demi gloss

Dessert – Homemade whip cream, Madagasgar vanilla bean ice cream (made with liquid nitrogen in a blender) strawberry shortcake and candied walnuts.

My favorite, was the perfectly seared scallops that were soft and buttery as they slipped into my mouth. The inventive orange tempura added a crunchy texture, blending savory and citrus sweetness.

The most eclectic: the soft poached fried egg sitting in the bed of udon noodles. The egg was boiled to perfect softness, fried and then placed on the plate. When your fork broke into the egg, the bright orange yoke flows out across the colorful green of the asparagus and red radishes.

The History and Experience:

Everything is made fresh. The bread was made in-house and served to us flaky and warm, my favorite. I always taste-test restaurants based off their cold or warm bread since it’s often the first food you receive when dining. You would be surprised at the restaurants that ensure their bread is fresh and warm – it sets the precedence.

Chef Chuck James is meticulous about his produce, ensuring it’s mostly local and his seafood never sits in the freezer. It is delivered and prepared on the same day. You can taste the intangible freshness. The menu changes frequently based of James’ findings and culinary creativity.

Ambiance:

The restaurant has three floors. The bottom floor is a trendy lounge, with another bar, the main level has another bar and the third floor is where diners enjoy their meal. With demure, low lights, exposed brick with flavorful green curtains sweeping on the floor, the experience is romantic.

I asked Gene of the mysterious, photo-journalistic photos lining the wall of the third floor restaurant. His eyes twinkled as he told the story of his friend who found these prints while cleaning out his house, mostly from Colorado in the early 1900’s (1906 to be exact). Gene had them printed and framed, now they tell a story of Colorado and even represent the historic building 1515 sits in.

Our waiter, Jonathan, was knowledgeable and you could tell, took his job with serious vigor. Gene is always present at the restaurant. I watched him move from table to table, welcoming guests, smiling, asking how their meal is tasting and ensuring everything is running smoothly. A lot of restaurant owners don’t show face, but Gene is not only accessible but present everyday.

1515 has been standing strong in LoDo for 14 years. Our experience at 1515 was exquisite, it’s the kind of place you should take family or loved ones for a special occasion. Another option? Stop by for one of their 500 bottles of wine and mouthwatering desserts as a night-cap.

Say hello to Gene, tell him I sent you and watch the magic unfold at 1515.

 Find Them:

1515 Restaurant: http://www.1515restaurant.com/

Twitter: @1515Restaurant

Facebook: Facebook.com/1515Restaurant

Reservations: OpenTable

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