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Opening Milk & Honey Bar Kitchen has been a lengthy process for Denver chef-restaurateur Michael Shiell. The construction of the space, which opens in the former Lime location on Larimer Square on Thursday, took more than a year longer than expected. But, in the end, Shiell struck gold—literally. While working on a section of the bar, Shiell’s crew unearthed soil that shimmered with gold flecks. Further digging yielded a large rock that contained 8 carats of gold. The discovery was novel but not wildly profitable: not only does Larimer Associates own the site’s mineral rights, the eight carats only amounted to about 20-something bucks. But it’s a good story, and sometimes that’s what makes a place.
Milk & Honey has many good stories—a cattleman named Snookie who provides the restaurant’s beef, a rum tonic containing health-stoking flaxseed, foie gras bonbons intended to further indoctrinate molecular gastronomy into the Denver dining lexicon, and, of course, a name that irks those who treasured New York’s world-famous Milk & Honey cocktail bar.
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Shiell is quick to distance Denver’s M&H from the NYC original. The Larimer Square restaurant is a “luxury tavern” not a speakeasy, he says. The food, which is overseen by chef de cuisine Lance Barto, is American with global influences. Order the house-made ricotta (pictured) with pea tendrils, caramelized fennel, and cornbread crostini or the roast game hen with black garlic, fresh garbanzos, and saba jus—both offer a taste of the kitchen’s direction. As for Milk & Honey as a whole, Sheill says, “it’s about abundance, plenty, the finest the land can offer.” Which, come to think of it, is what striking gold once symbolized.
1414 Larimer St., 303-997-7590