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Delightful small plates such as the toad in a hole—brioche, farm egg, frisée, and lardons—anchor the menu at the new Twelve at Madison. —Photo by Rachel Adams

Opening: 12 at Madison

Jeff Osaka’s redux restaurant is a welcome addition to the Congress Park neighborhood.

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1160 Madison Street has sat empty for the past fifteen months, ever since its former tenant, the Japanese-inspired bakery Glaze, closed its doors. That is, until last week, when Jeff Osaka brought new life to the space with the opening of his reincarnation of Twelve. Dubbed 12 at Madison, the new concept focuses on shared small plates and brings a comfortable-yet-elevated dining experience to Congress Park.

Osaka gave the space a makeover, opting for a soothing, neutral color palate and warm wood elements at the bar and chef’s counter. Textured placemats, simple tableware, and minimal artwork give the restaurant a relaxed vibe that neighborhood families should appreciate.

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The menu is designed around 18 small plates meant for sharing, and a daily large plate intended for two to four people. Osaka and his chef de cuisine, Ashley McBrady, have kept a few favorites from Twelve—the beloved baby lettuce and shaved vegetable salad, for one—but there are many new items that range from vegetable plates to roasted meats to handmade pastas.

Take the radicchio salad with anchovy dressing, for example. Punchy and bold, the vibrant chicory leaves are bitter and refreshing against the briny anchovies and salty pecorino. It’s a fantastic way to start a meal, like an edible aperitif that primes your palate.

Other lovely surprises on opening night were the more subtly-flavored roasted radishes and rutabaga and tender ricotta gnudi swimming in brown butter (in a good way). Divine veal sweetbreads with wild mushrooms, a throwback to Twelve days, came with crunchy toast.

12 at Madison is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday and is offering Sunday brunch, too. Osaka hopes to eventually offer a family-oriented happy hour with a special three-course menu just for children, yet another reason why 12 at Madison is sure to find a happy home in kid-friendly Congress Park.

1160 Madison St., 720-216-0190

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Denise Mickelsen, Food Editor

Denise Mickelsen oversees all of 5280’s food-related coverage, and feels damn lucky to do so. Follow her on Instagram @DeniseMickelsen.

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