Dining

Preserved Tradition

From appetizers to desserts, eats served in glass jars are a throwback to days gone by.

May 2011

Long reserved for jam and jelly, glass jars have begun popping up on tables as a means of presenting starters and desserts. We first noticed this bit of whimsy a year ago, but in the last several months the serve-it-in-a-jar trend has become more sweeping. For proof, look to New York City, where David Burke Kitchen has a section on its menu dedicated entirely to dishes served in jars. Here are our favorite local spots to open the lid and dig in.

  • At Argyll, jars holding pickled fruits and veggies line the dining room shelves. The effect is as much for decor as it is for storage—and a nod to owner Robert Thompson’s “presentation inspired by process” philosophy. During the summer months, Thompson’s home garden runneth over, and he preserves what he can. His briny pickles—served in small, wide-mouth jars—are eaten in the gastropub year-round. 2700 E. Third Ave., 720-382-1117, argyllpub.com
  • For chef Frank Bonanno, adding potted smoked trout to Green Russell’s speakeasy menu was a no-brainer: The appetizer is a throwback to the 1930s when the fish was abundant. As for the jar, it’s a simple play on “the way people used to store and cure fish,” Bonanno says. The decadent spread, which is eaten on hunks of baguette, is made with crème fraîche, shallots, and tarragon pesto and served in a French canning jar. 1422 Larimer St., 303-893-6505, greenrussell.com
  • When opening Ototo Food and Wine Bar, chef Darren Pusateri was inspired by global cuisine. Order the egg in a jar with layers of whipped truffled mashed potatoes, diced Jamón Serrano, sturgeon caviar, and a poached farm egg. The ingredients steam together in a mason jar so when the lid is taken off tableside, luxurious aromas seep out. Spread on slices of grilled ciabatta from Pajama Baking Company. 1501 S. Pearl St., 303-733-2503, ototoden.net
  • When dessert arrives, we can’t wait to unhinge Colt & Gray’s Le Parfait jars for bites of creamy potted cheesecake and salted caramel. Executive chef and owner Nelson Perkins first used jars while working at New York City’s Blue Hill. Here, his crustless cheesecake is lightened by crème fraîche and finished with a thick, rich layer of salty caramel. You won’t miss the crust. 1553 Platte St., 303-477-1447, coltandgray.com
  • One of the first items on chef Max MacKissock’s Squeaky Bean menu was the chicken liver mousse. The small-plate standout is a more decadent version of one of his mother’s rustic recipes. MacKissock’s use of the airtight jam jars is practical: “We didn’t want the pâté to oxidize,” he says. The mousse is served with grilled bread, house-made preserves, and whole-grain Dijon mustard. 3301 Tejon St., 303-284-0053, thesqueakybean.net
  • First came the jars, and then came the dish, says chef Matt Selby of Vesta Dipping Grill. Originally used to serve chocolate sponge cake at a special event, the jars have traded in their sweet contents for Selby’s duck rillettes, one of five offerings on the cured meat platter. Tip: Be sure to stir before spreading on the accompanying Udi’s grilled bread and Nita Crisp crackers. 1822 Blake St., 303-296-1970, vestagrill.com