Exclusive first look: Old Major, Justin Brunson's "elevated farmhouse cuisine" restaurant, is now open in Highland

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All photos by Lori Midson

On Saturday night, as I studied the menu at Old Major, I nearly burst into tears. At one point, some time later, I did exactly that, right after my first taste of foie gras; there would be more liberal shavings of that exquisite foie on the cassoulet, which hinted at a "foie surprise." And more sappy tears of joy that followed.

And, indeed, Old Major, the Highland restaurant that chef Justin Brunson has spent months putting together with an undisputed dream squad of cooks and chefs, bartenders and wine geeks and front-of-the-house professionals, is a restaurant that's striving to be a confluence of unassailable cooking (with gorgeous compositions to match) in a striking setting that's neither too pretentious nor too casual with service that's as refined and graceful as an orchestrated ballet -- but without the snoot.

See also:
- Exclusive sneak peek: Old Major, opening on February 24
- Justin Brunson taps pastry queen Nadine Donovan to spearhead the dessert program at Old Major
- Masterpiece Delicatessen chef Justin Brunson on opening a new restaurant and his fetish for foie gras and lamb testicles

On Sunday, the public, for the first time, was privy to what I was: an exhaustive labor of love, an unbending reverence for blood, sweat and tears. Brunson's "elevated farmhouse" menu, which is executed in a show-stopping open kitchen that ballyhoos some of the most enviable equipment you've ever laid eyes on -- and could easily double as a Hollywood movie set -- is separated into five categories: Small plates, The Farmer, The Butcher, The Monger and Sides.

It's pointed, confident, and reads like a culinary geek-speak love letter, and when put into action, results in a royal procession of artistically astounding dishes that defy superlatives. Brunson's lobster pot pie? Ethereal. The dominoes of pan-seared foie gras splayed over an apple whiskey-infused pie crust, comprised of duck fat, and layered with apples and candied almonds? You'll fight over this like competitive wrestlers. The braised French lentils accompanying the wood-grilled sturgeon, with its milky-white flesh and fluttering pencil shavings of foie, should be bottled and sold for bundles of green, and that lobster pot pie, punctuated with fennel and bobbing with claw and tail meat, will assuredly put to rest the myth that Denver can't do justice to the sea. Even the pretzel bread, presented on Saturday with a real, honest-to-God mustard butter, is enough to send you soaring.

And so do the cocktails, fashioned by a bar team that's seemingly incapable of faltering, and given the bold names behind the schtick -- Brian Melton (TAG, ChoLon), Ryan Conklin (Euclid Hall), Michael McGill (Osteria Marco), Melissa Durant (Green Russell), Courtney Wilson (Williams & Graham) and Jonathan Greschler (Wild Catch, Fuel Cafe) -- it's no wonder. The cocktails, whether it's the Mustache Rye, with Averna, Montenegro and Leopold's apple whiskey, or the bartender's choice -- in my case, a whiskey smash made with Nardini, lemon, simple syrup, fresh mint and Johnny Drum bourbon, and chilled with hand-carved ice -- are poetic.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Old Major

3316 Tejon St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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10 comments
whippingcupcakes
whippingcupcakes

My original post linked to a story about McDonald's fish nuggets, not Old Major. I think Old Major sounds fantastic. Too bad Westword can't figure out what response to keep with what story.

ebethcheese
ebethcheese

Why are all these readers such douchebags?  Didn't anyone learn the old adage; "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all"  Sending all these anonymous quotes bashing a journalist seem to be nothing more than a personal ego trip.  If you don't like what you read, you have options...1) Politely disagree...2)Don't read it any more...3)Write your own damn blog!

bourgogneparnuit
bourgogneparnuit

Man oh man- this is like a ridiculous session of ass-kissing where emotions include the whole range - from tears and elation. With adjectives like refined, unassailable, gorgeous, graceful, sublime, artistically astounding, royal, ethereal and beyond, this post exhausts all possible compliments. Also, can you count to five? "four categories: Small plates, The Farmer, The Butcher, The Monger and Sides."

bhoffmeyer
bhoffmeyer

People like these commenters crack me up. If you're not interested in restaurant news in DEN, don't read this page. Trolls. 

whippingcupcakes
whippingcupcakes

Congratulations on eating neatly 900 calories of McShit.

Philo99
Philo99

Old Major? Is this place new? I don't think I ever heard of it.


Yes I am being facetious.

bourgogneparnuit
bourgogneparnuit

@ebethcheese Come on. No one is attacking anyone here. Did you read the post? It's like we all don't need to go check out the restaurant because someone just deemed it to be so extraordinary that it defies all superlatives. It's ridiculous that a "journalist" as you call it can't figure out a way to convey the image of a new restaurant without abusing every adjective in the dictionary. 

ebethcheese
ebethcheese

@whippingcupcakes  If that's McShit....bring it on!   I can recommend a few places that might suit your lowly palate....  It was, of course, way more than 900 calories - but anyone who knows anything about food would know that.  It was well worth every minute of they morning after run.  Would do it again and again!  Simply a spectacular meal from beginning to end.

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