August 14 2007, 12:19 PM
I took a walk through of the old Real World: Denver house at 1920 Market St. yesterday. It's due to open this week as Theorie, a new restaurant and martini bar. During the walkthrough, the staff hustled and bustled around, whipping covers off the bars, polishing the glassware, placing flowers around and lighting candles, all in preparation for the "friends and family" preview on Monday night. It's always a zoo right before a new space opens for business, but Theorie was actually looking pretty good and ready to go. It's hard to recognize the former Real World house; they've taken out the stairs and closed off the second floor -- which will open soon as Sip, a wine shop -- and ditched the pool and the furniture. The patio is mostly the same; but the interior has been remodeled into a funky mix of elegant vintage decor and sleek modern touches. It's got this sort of schizophrenic chic thing going on, and I'm not really in love with the blend myself. I think crystal chandeliers, velvet throw pillows, and iron scrollwork go together just fine. And I think mod, molded plastic chairs, steel bar tops and slick tempered glass shelves make sense together. Throw them all into the same location? Eh. Not quite my thing. Whether you like it or not on a personal level, it's certainly impressive. One private dining area sports a $20,000 crystal chandelier over a round glass table, enclosed by a circle of sheer, white, crystal-dotted curtains. Pretty snazzy, no? And the VIP lounge offers an entirely different vibe, with dark walls, low black tables and couches, zebra-covered cushions and twinkling ceiling full of starry lights. Foodwise, they hired Chef Deryk Schnepf (formerly of Bravo at the Adam's Mark hotel) to create a contemporary American menu with French and Asian flair. Look for starters like the Theorie Trio ($15), with a smoked duck wonton, shitake spring roll, and crab and asparagus dumpling, entrees such as a pan seared duck breast with crispy rice pudding and white peach confit ($22), and desserts including wild strawberry soup with vintage balsamic and cinnamon scented creme fraiche ($8). They'll offer 75 martinis and over 50 wines by the glass, along with a champagne menu running from a $9 glass of Mumm to a $1000 bottle of Roederer Cristal Rose. The fun starts this week with a soft opening through Friday; drop by to check out the space and the menu but give the staff a break as they figure things out. Saturday night it's a "red carpet VIP" invite-only bash, and next week they'll be on to business as usual.