If recent restaurant opening menus are any indication, Denver chefs are heading in two different directions: Some are pushing the limits on creativity—see the Wolf’s Tailor’s imaginative Asian-Italian fare and Morin’s innovate spin on modern French cuisine. (Veal sweetbread mousseline katsu sandwiches, anyone? Yes, please.) Others, such as Kevin Taylor’s month-old Mila and the brand new Narrative in Cherry Creek, are operating within well-trodden territory. Mila’s menu of comfy Mediterranean dishes (pizzas, pastas, and the like) and Narrative’s classic American fare (pot pie, cheeseburgers, deviled eggs) won’t take Denverites out of their culinary comfort zones, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It makes sense, even, given Mila and Narrative’s locations. The former is housed in the Denver Place building at 19th and Curtis, in the heart of the central business district; the latter serves as the flagship eatery at the Jacquard Hotel, a Marriott-International-owned Autograph Collection property in Cherry Creek. Both, presumably, will lean heavily on the patronage of power-lunching business folk and out-of-town visitors who typically don’t respond well to challenging restaurant concepts. As Narrative executive chef Paul Nagan (formerly of downtown’s Range Restaurant) explains, “We’re just trying to nail the classics and do them absolutely perfectly.”
Indeed, there is much to like at both restaurants. Nagan’s Gulf shrimp and Grateful Bread Company grits is a balanced, indulgent take on the Southern favorite, and his sous-vide 48-hour beef short rib with root vegetables and potato purée is pure comfort. Over at Mila, executive chef and partner Austin Cueto (who has cooked for more than a decade at various Kevin Taylor restaurants) is turning out tasty pizzas topped with the likes of lamb sausage and fennel, as well as fantastic fresh pastas, including a fluffy potato gnocchi with squash, pumpernickel bread crumbs, and pistachio pesto.
As the Mile High City’s culinary scene continues to diversify, Mila and Narrative are here to satisfy Denverites’ appetites for familiar pleasures.
Mila, 999 18th St., 303-228-0770; Narrative, the Jacquard Hotel, 222 Milwaukee St., 303-515-2000