When Beckon opens on Wednesday, November 21, it marks a first for Denver. Plenty of restaurants in the Mile High City have chef’s counters—seats that face right into the kitchen and allow for interaction with the cooks—but all of them also have regular table seating, too. Beckon, on the other hand, is really nothing more than a heigh-ceilinged room with a U-shaped counter ensconcing an open kitchen. Each and every one of the 17 seats affords a direct view of the chefs at work.
While other cities have long been home to chef’s-counter restaurants (see the Catbird Seat in Nashville, Tennessee and Blanca in Brooklyn, New York), it’s a new dining format for Denverites. Here’s what to know before you go.
Beckon is Call’s nighttime alter ego
Call, which is located next door to Beckon on Larimer Street, has only been open for a year. But what a year it’s been: The 650-square-foot daytime cafe has already racked up scores of accolades, including a spot on 5280’s 25 Best Restaurants list and Bon Appetit’s 2018 list of America’s 10 Best New Restaurants. That’s thanks to executive chef Duncan Holmes, director of experience and hospitality Allison Anderson (both Frasca Food and Wine alums), and owner Craig Lieberman (of 34 Degrees Crisps), who collectively take a thoughtful approach to casual fare. Think of Beckon as Call’s more formal, fine-dining sibling.
You’ll book and pre-pay for your dinner as if buying a ticket for a show
Beckon only accepts prepaid reservations through Tock. This changes the game in a few ways: It allows the team to create highly personalized experiences for each diner, reduce food waste, and, perhaps most important in such a tiny restaurant, assure that folks don’t skip out on their reservations and leave seats empty. It also means that after enjoying the leisurely tasting menu, you don’t have to whip out your wallet and calculate the tip. What happens if you can’t make your reservation? While you can’t get a refund, you can transfer your reservation to another person or even reschedule your dinner for another date in the same month. The $95 price ticket does not include service gratuity and tax (you’ll pay those through Tock at the time of booking), and group size is capped at four.
Expect eight courses of Scandinavian-influenced fare
Call’s Scandinavian influence continues at Beckon. In fact, Holmes begins each meal with a familiar amouse-bouche: a savory abelskiver. (The bite-size pancake has been on the menu at Call since day one.) From there, diners can expect a parade of carefully constructed bites presented on beautiful ceramics. Think: rye-bread-crumb-encrusted fried oysters with Siberian sturgeon caviar, two types of seaweed, and creamy dill sauce; tender shelled langoustine with poached potato; and squab (pigeon) cooked two ways with foie gras mousse and lingonberry compote. The menu changes nightly, and while the food is undoubtably fancy, Holmes manages to imbue each dish with a comforting, easy-to-eat quality. Bonus: Save room for the heavenly house bread, a small round of sourdough infused with the slightly sweet flavor of aspen bark and served with salted cultured butter.
You can pre-pay for the booze, too—or not
For the ultimate Beckon experience, you’ll want to augment your meal with the the optional beverage pairings ($65 per diner). You can can go for wine pairings (sommelier Zach Byers tends to focus on Old World vinos) or the cider and beer pairing option, which looks beyond Colorado for brews like Blackberry Farm Brewery’s classic saison. If the idea of eight courses and eight drinks sounds like too much, you can also order cocktails, wines, and beers a la carte. Non-alcoholic beverages, including coffee and tea service, are included in the $95 ticket price.
The vibe is hygge heavy and pared down
“Hygge,” a Danish concept of coziness and small pleasures, abounds at Beckon. You’ll enter through a fence to find a fire pit encircled with blanket-strewn chairs. Once inside, you’ll be greeted in a small foyer before you move to your roomy seat around the chef’s counter in the dining room. The high A-frame ceiling, wood countertop, and abundance of candles give the space a lodge-esque feel, while a striking black mural and artful floral arrangements lend an urban vibe. Most impressively, the lighting is somehow bright enough to accommodate the chefs at work while still feeling soft and low. Even with music, the noise level is still relatively quiet and conducive to conversation.
Beckon is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Go here to buy your tickets.
2843 Larimer St., 303-502-5800