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Chef Kelly Whitaker is opening two new restaurants in downtown Denver this spring. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hunt

Kelly Whitaker Brings Brutø and BØH to the Dairy Block

The two grain-based eateries—a restaurant and a cafe—are located inside the new Free Market at 18th and Blake.

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Downtown Denver has been buzzing more than usual over the past few weeks, with both the Nuggets and Avalanche launching deep playoff runs. Now that both teams’ seasons have come to (heartbreaking) ends, there’s good LoDo dining news to help Denverites pick up the pieces: Dairy Block—the expansive, mixed-use development near Coors Field—is finally expanding its offerings to the property’s Blake Street side. Run for the Roses, a Derby-inspired, underground cocktail bar opened on May 2, and two new retail outlets, Heyday and Free Market, have their grand openings this weekend, May 18 and 19.

Free Market, which encompasses nine retailers, also includes chef Kelly Whitaker’s two latest additions to the local dining scene. (A busy bee, Whitaker opened the Wolf’s Tailor in Sunnyside in September and Dry Storage in Boulder just in the past few weeks.)

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Bruto
Kelly Whitaker stands in front of Brutø’s grand dame, a Stefano Ferrara oven. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hunt

Brutø is a small, order-at-the-wood-counter restaurant that further underscores Whitaker’s commitment to bringing heritage grains into the mainstream. (He expects it to fully open in mid-June, although there are preview events this weekend; see below.) Every dish at Brutø and BØH (more on that below, too) will be crafted with grains that are house-milled either at Free Market or at Dry Storage.

The open-concept restaurant’s centerpiece is a Stefano Ferrara pizza oven from Naples. Except Whitaker and his team won’t be baking pizzas inside it. The menu is still in flux, but expect breads, including a flatbread of the day (rolled from a variety of grains and pulled through a pasta machine to make it super thin), and whole grain-based dishes such as farro risotto or congee.

There will also a raw bar along one counter that will go beyond serving oysters (though you’ll find those and other seafood, too). Whitaker’s team will be taking advantage of the nearby Union Station Farmers’ Market and offering an array of crudités.

Bruto’s liquor license will extend throughout Free Market—a perk Whitaker will be taking full advantage of by filling an antique rolling cart with snacks, vermouth, and bubbles and taking it around the space so shoppers and those getting a cut at the barbershop can grab a nibble or a sip.

It’s this mix of retail and food that has Whitaker most excited. “I want to blend hospitality with lifestyle all the time,” he says.

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Down a few stairs, facing the alley, Whitaker is also operating BØH (which stands for “back of house,” the hospitality industry term for kitchen staff). The cafe—which has been in soft opening phase for a week or so—is serving Devoción, “farm fresh coffee” from Colombia. (The company imports and roasts all of the beans served at the esteemed Eleven Madison Park in New York City).

The food menu at BØH, again focused on house-milled grains, will feature toasts, porridges, pastry chef Jeb Breakell’s creations (expect some treats from Dry Storage, such as brown butter masa tea cakes), and soft-serve ice cream, much of which will be dairy-free and some of which will have grain bases, such as oats. BØH will also have a full bar with taps for beer, cider, and sake. Diners can grab-and-go or relax on one of the eight bar stools.

Look out for BØH to host workshops and guest appearances too… because Whitaker is always happy with more on his plate.


If you go: Free Market and Heyday are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Saturday, May 18: Meet the Makers @ BØH with a chocolate and beverage pairing menu, noon-close; Brutø aperitivo hour with raw bar, 3-7 p.m.; pop-up cocktail bar from the Family Jones Spirit House, 7-11 p.m.
Sunday, May 19: Vinyl brunch with okonomiyaki bar and Dry Storage toasts, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Brutø aperitivo hour with raw bar, 3-7 p.m.

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