Fair warning: West Highland’s three-week-old Brazen does not take reservations. This all but guarantees the casual, high-energy eatery will function more as a neighborhood gathering spot than a city-wide dining destination. And that suits restaurateur Chris Sargent and chef Lance Barto (best known for his time at Central Bistro and Bar) just fine. The restaurant fills a niche in the ever-exploding neighborhood with thoughtful, seasonal eats at reasonable prices: $6–$10 small plates and $27–$35 entrées built for two.

Go for the sharable plates such as the beautifully plated wahoo crudo with a charred onion sauce similar to a pesto, and the “fancy toast” topped with butternut squash, Broken Shovel chevrè, arugula, and a not-too-sweet caramel–black pepper gastrique. Do not miss the whole-roasted striped bass (pictured). Served straight from the oven in a cast-iron pan, this deboned fish tastes of the lemon and garlic in which it’s roasted and the golden notes of caramelized onions and rainbow chard. A pile of paper-thin, salt-and-vinegar chips rounds out the entrée. Use the chips to scoop up bites of bass for a different take on fish and chips. This dish is a delicious reason to stick out Brazen’s wait-list.

Sip this: Brazen serves Crooked Stave‘s Viellie, a floral and citrusy saison that perfectly complements the fish.

4450 W. 38th Ave., #130, 720-638-1242

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