Exclusive first look: Kachina Southwestern Grill opens Thursday at the Westin Westminster
Sage Restaurant Group, which owns and operates numerous restaurants throughout the country, including the Corner Office and Second Home Kitchen + Bar, both located in Denver, is gearing up to make its local offerings a trifecta: On Thursday, the Denver-based group, co-founded by Peter Karpinski, will open Kachina Southwestern Grill adjacent to the Westin Westminster, in the former space that was long home to O's Steak & Seafood (and, for quite a while, chef Ian Kleinman, who turned the kitchen into a molecular laboratory).
But Kapinski's newest food temple is all about contemporary Southwestern cooking, and chef Patrick Hartnett and his crew are turning out everything from Navajo tacos hugging braised lamb and duck confit to fresh corn that's grilled over Japanese charcoal on a roving cart maneuvered through the lofty dining rooms mimicking adobe architecture and bedecked with vintage lanterns, a fireplace and conversation-piece tchotchkes indicative of the Southwest, a region that Harnett knows well: He was the executive chef of Las Fuentes Restaurant and Bar in Santa Fe and Doc Martin's in Taos.
And last week, Hartnett, who's also a bona fide butcher, invited me into his Westminster kitchen to sample several dishes from his menu. And while I was there, I also had the opportunity to swig a few cocktails with clever names like "Cactus in the Rye" and "You Mango Me Crazy."
The restaurant, which will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch, also offers a daily happy hour from 2 to 6 p.m., and there are chicharrones on the happy-hour menu, which I highly, highly recommend. Then again, just about everything I stuffed down my gullet made me want to go back for more.
Herewith an exclusive first look at what's ahead.