Jennifer Jasinski and Adam Branz are getting antsy. The two chef-owners (of four total, including Beth Gruitch and Jorel Pierce) have been primed and preparing to open Ultreia, the fifth Denver restaurant for the Crafted Concepts group, for over a year now; permitting delays have pushed back their opening date until sometime in November.
As they’ve waited, the team has developed recipes and conducted taste tests, even traveling to Spain and visiting Barcelona’s Jamón Experience (a museum devoted—we’re not kidding—to jamón Iberico) for research. “We are busting at the seams to get going,” says Jasinski. “We originally thought we’d be open in April or May; then it was summer. We made an entire summer menu that we won’t get to serve!” The excitement in her voice is real when she speaks of the Spanish and Portuguese influences that drive Ultreia’s cuisine, as well as the teamwork behind the launch.
A good 75 percent of Ultreia’s opening menu will be available for Denver diners to taste on September 14 and 15, when Ultreia’s team takes over the kitchen at Bistro Vendôme on Larimer Street. A taste of what Ultreia has in store: “Manos Desnudas” (bare hands) dishes such as that very special, four-year-old jamon Ibérico—“No one else in town has it,” says Jasinski—to “Comiendo Utensilios” (tools required) items such as patatas bravas with aioli and a sunflower crumble. Below is a sneak peak at the proposed food and drink menus.
“We’re going to have really fun presentations for the food,” Jasinski says. “And we’re having a special gin made from Jack Rabbit Hills [in Hotchkiss, CO] just for our Gin Tonics.” Sherries and sherry cocktails will also set a Spanish-Portuguese tone.
Ultreia will be small—1,200 square feet, with a small patio outside—so Jasinski and Branz are being smart by keeping the menu as tight as possible. Only two desserts will be offered at the September pop up: churros with chocolate and pastel de nata, a traditional Portuguese cinnamon custard that Branz is modernizing (and streamlining) with a flaky puff pastry crust. It sounds like just one of many delicious treats that await us all at Ultreia.
For reservations, go to bistrovendome.com or call 303-825-3232.