New: Epernay Lounge

March 2013

I'm not sure how to decipher Epernay Lounge, the seven-week-old Theater District restaurant from the wildly talented chef Duy Pham. The food is a mix of exquisite, highly styled sushi and heartier, sous-vide meats and seafood. Fine cooking and global influences unify all of the dishes, but the menu simply doesn't hang together. Is this a sushi bar or a contemporary restaurant?

Much of the disconnect may come from the space itself. Epernay's decor is so splashy that it feels more akin to a Las Vegas lounge than it does to a Denver dining destination. The space—long, narrow, and divided into bar, sushi bar, and dining room—further fractures any sense of unification.

My guess is that the best way to experience Epernay is to order the tasting menu, and let the wildly talented Pham (of the late, and much-loved, Tante Louise) navigate the flavors and techniques for you. One dish you should request is the hamachi with watermelon radish and buzz buttons (pictured). Though the slightly electric (not to mention, gimmicky) flower bud will likely entice you to order the dish, it's the beautiful fish and delicate notes of citrus that you'll remember.

As for the space, there's not much middle ground. I think you'll either love it or hate it.

1080 14th St., 303-573-5000

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