Bacon and Belly for Brunch at Beast + Bottle
Brother and sister duo Paul and Aileen Reilly can often be seen pouring their heart and soul into every aspect of Beast + Bottle, Aileen running the front of the house while Paul heads the kitchen. Known for its in-house butchery program, the restaurant has a whole pig delivered to the restaurant every week, using every juicy morsel of in various forms of cuts and dishes. Similarly, Beast + Bottle has its own flock of Rhode Island Red hens laying organic eggs just for them in Merino, Colorado; the quality difference is evident in every plate on the kitchen's brunch menu.
Brunch is served at Beast + Bottle on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located on the main strip of 17th Avenue in Uptown, parking on weekend mornings is normally not a problem -- except when summer events like the USA Pro Challenge cycling race takes over most of downtown and shuts down streets along the route. It was a little tricky navigating between the strange traffic redirections, but the host was graciously understanding and accommodating considering how late we were for our 11:00 a.m. reservation, although he made it clear that this is not always the case -- walk-ins can usually expect to wait for quite some time at the coffee bar before landing a table.
The small and minimalist space is smartly decorated with wine bottles, corks and other interesting widgets that catch your eye but don't distract from the company at hand. Dimly lit and backed by a soundtrack of oldies just loud enough to decipher in the background, the mood is subdued -- the perfect way to ease into the weekend. There's a small patio great for people watching -- but again, make a reservation.
Beast + Bottle has a full drink menu of brunch cocktails, beers and juices, with -- count it -- six different types of Bloody Marys. The "normal one" came with a rim of black salt and house-made spicy pickles, so if that tells you anything -- get a Bloody. We started out slowly with pomegranate juice and tomato juice, which the kitchen ran out of but amazingly sent an employee across the street to Marczyk's for more while we waited. The coffee is good too -- robust but pricy at $3.50 for a cup.
Never one to turn down sweets, we began our meal with the pastry of the day: a rhubarb raspberry bar with almond crumble and honey creme fraiche that was as succulent and buttery as it sounds -- just what we needed to sop up the rest of last night's alcohol. There were two new late summer additions to the menu: a sweet-corn saffron waffle and a chicken and Hatch green chile sausage, which my friend rushed to order before I could even open my mouth (we never like to double up so we can taste a bit of everything).
The theme of the meal was meat; the sausage was more sweet than savory, served on a bed of cornbread with eggs any style (poached is recommended), a honey-lime hollandaise, and shoestring fries. My only complaint: there wasn't nearly enough to share so I should've gotten my own. My friend Alison ordered the pork shoulder tostada, which was a much bigger portion of juicy pulled pork mixed with charred tomatillos to make a delicious green chili of sorts topped with queso panela and sunny-side-up eggs. The tostada added just the right bit of crunch.
Our fourth guest kept it simple with the "square meal" -- eggs, bacon and toast. Tthe bacon was a little overly fatty; apparently this depends on the porker of the week. Making sure not to leave out any cut of pig, I went with the pork belly confit -- two rich, thick pieces atop a generous portion of fried green tomatoes and an egg any style (over-medium for me) smothered in a mess of succotash, a mixture of buttery seasonal vegetables that included black-eyed peas and corn. The meat-to-veggie ratio was a little off in my opinion (or maybe I just crave delicious piglets all the time), but there was no shortage of good eats to go around.
Beast + Bottle gets no shortage of acclaim for its seasonal and creative dinner menu; the same attention to ultra-fresh ingredients and equally fresh presentations makes brunch there a treat too.
Brunch: it's a time-honored tradition, a mingling of friends over bottomless mimosas for chatting and gluttonous gorging on pancake stacks and egg creations. If your typical Sunday morning debate goes back and forth between heading to the reliable greasy spoon or someplace new and trendy, indecision could have you growing roots in the couch. Meanwhile, wait times at Denver favorites won't get any shorter. So that's where Out to Brunch comes in: In this weekly feature, Lauren Monitz will explore new places and revisit the old faithfuls to help you decide where to go on your next brunch adventure.