Preview: The Populist

September 14 2012, 10:30 AM

The Populist, the forthcoming restaurant from Noah Price and Jonathan Power (both of Crema Coffee House) might be fall's most anticipated restaurant opening. And yet, as the duo puts the finishing touches on the north Larimer space, they do so in a quiet, understated manner that's devoid of any pomp and circumstance. All of which is an apt description of what the Populist will be when it (hopefully) opens in the next couple of weeks. 

The guiding philosophy behind the Populist is to "get good food into the hands of the people," Price says. But this is no soup kitchen: The emphasis is on affordable, share-it-around small plates that are thoughtful and finely tuned. Expect items such as a shaved fennel salad with grapefruit, jalapeños, and red beets; and chicken liver mousse with chocolate and sour cherry compote. (There's even talk of huitaloache ravioli). These eats will match the eccentric, affordable wine and beer lists and head barman John Ingle's tightly curated classic cocktails.

All of this will fit nicely into a space that's paired down but gracious. "We were going for a post-Victorian, after the Dust Bowl kind of feel," Price says. "There's elegant wallpaper but it's washed away a bit." The restaurant is hemmed with reclaimed details: an old fashioned wooden piano, flowers in apothecary jars, a bar built from rough-cut patinated copper and burnt pine, a photo installation, and diner-style benches that were found along the side of the road. For anyone who ate a sandwich here when it was the Garden Spot Cafe, you won't recognize it.

The Populist will serve dinner Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Depending on the neighborhood's response, Price and Power may add hours on Tuesday, but they have no intention of opening for lunch. As Price puts it, there are already lunch spots in the area (Hutch and Spoon and Crema among them).

FYI: The Populist’s opening hinges on a grease trap variance. Once that is resolved with the city, the restaurant should open quickly. Price is hoping for October 1.

3163 Larimer St., 720-432-3163