Review: Atticus wants to be a grown-up restaurant, but it's suffered growing pains

Categories: Review

Tacos.jpg
Danielle Lirette
Caribbean-style fish mini-tacos get in the swim. Dive into more photos from our visit to Atticus.
Atticus
1115 East Evans Avenue
720-459-8273

Neighborhood restaurants often remind me of kids. Even when they're noisy and a bit rough around the edges, you still smile at them, knowing the potential within. Atticus is that kind of place. Sure, it might want to be president when it grows up, but for now the latest venture from Table to Tavern -- the restaurant group behind Boone's Tavern and Handlebar Tavern -- is more of a tween: lovable one minute, frustrating the next.

See also: Behind the Scenes at Atticus

atticus.jpg
Danielle Lirette
Atticus has become a draw in the DU neighborhood.
Located near the University of Denver, Atticus stands out from other campus-oriented hangouts -- including Boone's, its adjacent sister property -- by attracting a crowd that turned its tassel not weeks, but years ago. With a stone fireplace, inviting off-white and blue walls, and fun touches such as a typewriter and a long-handled pizza peel hung in groupings, the space feels comfortable and cohesive, like a vacation house you wouldn't mind renting for the summer. A bar made of corrugated metal and beams from the old Stapleton airport squats in the center, but there's no community counter, making Atticus a spot to talk among friends, not necessarily pick up new ones.

Interestingly enough, Atticus wasn't conceived as a restaurant. "The neighborhood has changed my place completely," says Brian Midtbo, CEO of Table to Tavern. "We were supposed to open more as a bar with shared plates, but everybody kept coming in and thanking us for putting a restaurant in there." So Midtbo listened, changing course in April, two months after opening. The new menu, designed by former sous- and now executive chef Diego Coconati, is traditional in approach, filled with the kinds of entrees normally associated with destination restaurants: seared duck breast and duck confit, housemade ravioli, scallops with blood-orange gastrique. There's a burger but no sliders, and certainly no nachos or wings. Starters are also more individual than shared in nature, with offerings such as mussels, beet salad and a pea flan that showcases the vegetable's sweetness. Folks who feel like sharing are steered toward cheese and charcuterie plates -- and judging from my visits, more tables than not are in the mood to share.

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Danielle Lirette
Grilled lamb sirloin comes in a demi-glace that's a swirl of barbecue and plum.
Many dishes, entree or otherwise, hint at Coconati's years in Puerto Rico, Florida and his native Argentina, with flavors both spicy and tropical. Colorado lamb is ringed with a plucky sauce of ancho chiles and red-wine demi-glace that tastes like a swirl of barbecue and plum. Skirt steak is marinated overnight in soy sauce, pineapple juice and ginger, and plated over fingers of deep-fried yuca with cilantro and lime. Jack fish tacos, a tasty starter that could easily be a light meal, sparkle not with pico de gallo, but mango salsa and jalapeño slaw. Coconati has brought more seafood, vegan and vegetarian dishes to the original lineup, and he smartly sneaks in vegetables where you'd least expect them, tousling fennel, avocado and arugula over steak, for example.

It all seems very grown up -- until the food arrives. Then you realize how much growing Atticus has yet to do.

Keep reading for the rest of our review of Atticus.


Location Info

Atticus

1115 East Evans Avenue, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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12 comments
Jamie Park
Jamie Park

I have been to Atticus and while I'll agree that they still have some new restaurant growing pains to deal with, mainly around the service, I personally thought my food was excellent! Funny how I was just telling my husband today that we need to go back. I'm actually drooling looking at their menu. Absolutely worth checking out!

Jameson Waltz
Jameson Waltz

It was good food, delightful drinks, alright service, very long wait time for food, too loud, the local DU college kids and surrounding unclassy adults will ruin this place with their poor attire and etiquette. This place deserves to thrive but not with what locally surrounds it.

Lauren
Lauren

All three of the restaurants, Boones, Atticus, and Handle Bar have almost identical menus. If you've been to one you've been to them all. The sad part is that back in the day the Handle Bar and Grill used to have great food. Now, it's just blah, nothing to write home about. Certainly overpriced.

ctrockyoursocks
ctrockyoursocks

Boone's used to be great, it was a sports bar with amazing happy hour specials, good food and friendly staff. Now it's overpriced and boring, the food is still good most of the time but they change the menu so much it get's irritating and they have removed all the character (like the sign on the front). Atticus I thought was the owners attempt at having a classy European style cafe, which I like as an idea but the food is overpriced and the restaurants share too many of the same menu items and concepts.  I wish they'd focus on making Atticus great and leave Boone's alone.

barslinger
barslinger

I have wanted to try breakfast, but they do not open until 8:00 AM

DenverBen
DenverBen

Another +1 to this review. I live in the neighborhood and love what they're trying to do at Atticus, but I've had experiences similar to Gretchen's with both food and service.

Helena Karchere
Helena Karchere

We actually were quite impressed by the food about a month ago. But they definitely need to work on the staffing/service. Really nice people but it took a long time to get our bill and they seemed stretched to thin.

Mark J Pastika
Mark J Pastika

I want a full stomach after I eat. They want to be a grown-up restaurant, they should serve grown-up portions!!!

Rev_Ed
Rev_Ed

Both Atticus and sister restaurant Boone's are both in the midst of an identity crisis.  Atticus has yet to find its groove, while Boone's has become a surprisingly expensive sports bar.  I seriously question the decision to run both concepts out of the same kitchen.  

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Spot on review

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