Upon entering, Session Kitchen in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood, I felt like I was back in Montreal in a club or perhaps in a scene from Blade. It’s edgy and sultry.
For a Saturday night, the music is bumping, the space is vast (it seats 280 people) with a downstairs and upstairs area, multiple bars, and dramatic light tubes hang from the ceiling as they fluctuate in light coloring from deep red to white.
There are 450 of these fluorescent lighting fixtures which was a collaborative project from Jen Lewin out of Boulder and BLDG.COLLECTIVE with the design featuring LED technology from Lumigeek. It is immediately evident there was a lot of energy, design and heart put into this space.
You’re immediately hit with the emphasis on original art in the entire space. It could be an art gallery in itself. There are eight permanent pieces created just for the restaurant that are edgy, sexy, street art and there’s a story behind each of them and the international artists that contributed to the pieces (the menu talks about all of them in the back). Even the bathroom pops with art and iconic movie quotes lining the ceiling.
A new concept from Wynkoop-Breckenridge group, Session is all about the concept of sharing, but reinventing through their “sessions” in varying portion sizes, broken down by their jam sessions, herb sessions (think salads), wealth sessions (plates for one, like sandwiches), group sessions (intended for multiple people often served in iron-clad cookware) and their nom sessions for dessert.
We sat at the Session Bar – a private cove of a bar in a horseshoe shape that looks down over the restaurant and you have your own bartender who will craft your drinks and serve you your food. The Session Bar is great for a date or a group of people – you get undivided attention, as that bartender isn’t down at the main bar and will just be working with you.
Although the menu at first can be a bit confusing, due to the inventive nature of their “sessions” the staff is eager to guide you through what to share and what might work portion-wise with your group. It’s also not required to go through a session if a more traditional dinner route is more your speed (e.g. appetizer and entree for just yourself).
When it came to our drinks my good friend Michael Cerretani (below, on the left) – previously of The Bitter Bar – has created a creative, yet approachable beverage program. First off, they make their own ice through a clinebell ice system that produces large blocks of ice. Ice is custom broken down for each cocktail and will vary, by each drink. Starting with high quality ice is the first step to a proper cocktail. Although cocktails are inventive and fun, the wine and beer list shouldn’t be overlooked. Bartenders are also willing to put something custom together for you, based off taste and preference which shows their skill and the experience they’re looking to provide.
The Frank and Dorothy cocktail comes with vodka, orgeat, creme de violette and lemon. You can order a session (as soon below) for $9 or any cocktail in an erlenmeyer (think smaller jug) for $34 if a group wants to enjoy it. Even their cocktails can be shared.
For a busy, packed night I was surprised at the quality and consistency of their food, while it also came out in waves. They’ve prepared themselves for the masses and the size of the restaurant, even early on as they might work through a few beginning kinks.
The standout was their rosemary garlic lamb collar with byaldi, strained goat yogurt and plancha bread group session. We also liked the chicken fried maitake, hash browns, greens, red eye gravy and scalloped eggs. The dishes, much like the restaurant, are funky, different and there’s really a little bit of every part of the world peppered throughout the menu.
Finally, for our nom session we went with the cream cheese glazed cronuts (tasted more like a doughnut but still good) and the sea salt pecan sandies, that came with a hot chocolate mousse. The flaky, buttery sandies melted in your mouth and were perfect with a dip into the chocolate mousse.
Session has created an environment that’s unique. There aren’t a lot of spaces or restaurants like it in Denver, which I think is key. It’s an allstar crew, a different menu style with a wide range of food and cocktails to choose from.
Last week they released a new and improved menu, to ensure it’s a little less confusing and more approachable (while still keeping the creativity) so you can expect to see the sessions will look different and actually there will be a little less “sessions” than as originally described. It shows they’re listening and adjusting, in these early opening months which is appreciative. This should serve everyone.
One thing is clear – they’re pushing the envelope and they won’t stop there. If you’re looking for something even more special, cozy up to the Session Bar (make a reservation) for that extra experience, it’s worth it.