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Walking into Uptown’s Coperta when it’s hosting the new Sunday pop-up Margot from chef Justin Fulton is an elegant experience. The exposed brick wall, wooden floors, and the view of the action from the chef’s counter indicate the evening full of character that you’re about to enjoy—and the 10-course meal that follows lives up to expectations, with beautifully plated dishes like Kusshi oysters dotted with trout roe and duck croquettes topped with a tomato cooked in duck fat. The one-month-old pop-up is a hot reservation in town, yet maintains a come-as-you-are vibe, due in part Fulton’s background as a Colorado snowboarder turned fine-dining chef.
Fulton, who was born in Colorado, spent his adolescent years competitive snowboarding in Summit County and bussing tables at Edgewater Café in Keystone. In 2001, He moved with his family to North Carolina, where he attended culinary school. Since graduating, Fulton started his career at Fearrington House Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; spent a year learning about French food and culture as a private chef in France; and worked as chef de partie at Michelin-starred Daniel in New York City.
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When the restaurant industry was paralyzed at the onset of the pandemic, Fulton was living and working in Detroit. He talked his wife into taking their infant son on a 19-hour road trip to Denver just to “see if she could ever move here,” he says. The Colorado sunshine appealed to the family, and they moved to the Mile High City in November 2020. Fulton landed a job at Mercantile Dining & Provision, which gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in the local dining scene. He met Paul C. Reilly, chef-owner of Apple Blossom and Coperta, at a Meals on Wheels charity event in 2021, and the two immediately hit it off. “He was like the big brother I always wanted,” Fulton says.
When Fulton visited Coperta for the first time, he even pitched in to help the team during one of their busiest days of reopening after the pandemic shutdowns. While spending time within the exposed brick walls, something clicked. “I always knew I wanted to open my own concept, and I had found the place [to start],” Fulton says.
Reilly agreed to let Fulton offer a pop-up dinner experience at Coperta on Sundays, and Margot was born this past September. As for the name? “It’s a bit of a chicken and egg story,” Fulton says. “My wife’s name is Margaret, and I’ve always loved the name Margot, which is a French derivative of Margaret. Did I have the name in mind for a restaurant before I met my wife? Yes. Does my wife believe me? Unclear. Either way, Margot is a lot like my wife. She’s classy without being stuffy, and she’s definitely the life of the party.”
The fête takes place each Sunday, when guests can revel in Fulton’s technique-driven, contemporary American cuisine in a laid-back environment (That means no dress code, an affordable price, and friendly, conversational service.) “We want to do things the right way,” Fulton says. “We want it to be a fine-dining experience with a comfortable, come-as-you-are attitude.”
For the 10-course tasting menu, Fulton serves a combination of tried-and-true items like fluffy, flour-based Parisian gnocchi as well as some that highlight local ingredients such as lamb from Buckner Family Farm and charred Castelfranco radicchio from Esoterra Culinary Garden. “This fall, we’ll be focusing on smoky, umami flavors alongside really nurturing dishes that incorporate everyone’s favorite seasonal vegetables,” Fulton says.
And for this Colorado-born chef, highlighting and celebrating the local culinary scene is what it’s all about. “Bringing my culinary experience back to my home state has been really exciting for me,” Fulton says. “I love how chefs like Taylor Stark at the Wolf’s Tailor are pushing boundaries and creating delicious menus in Denver, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to bring my vision to this city.”
Margot will be at Coperta indefinitely while hoping to find backing for a brick-and-mortar location. You can currently make reservations online for their Sunday tasting menu at $105 per person (drinking pairings are also available).