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When Cooper Lounge, Union Station‘s swanky, hidden-from-view cocktail bar opened in August, it did so with a menu of pristine oysters and caviar provided by Stoic & Genuine. Now, seven months in, the lounge is shifting to a larger—and even more glamorous—menu in hopes of getting patrons to linger beyond a drink or two. The chef behind this transition is Lon Symensma, co-owner of ChoLon and soon-to-open Cho77.
Symensma is best known in Denver for his modern Asian fare, but his first love is French cuisine. In 1996, he competed at the Culinary Olympics in Berlin as part of the American Culinary Federation team (they took silver), and a year later he was named National Junior Chef of the Year by the federation. Symensma spent a year in France cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants (Roger Vergé’s Le Moulin de Mougins and Jacques Chibois’ La Bastide Saint Antoine) and lived with French super chef Daniel Boulud‘s family in Lyon.
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Those years spent steeped in French tradition are what Symensma is tapping for Cooper Lounge. “[This] is not ChoLon, it’s not Cho77, it’s me doing something on my own,” he says. “I’ve been doing research on the era of train travel—it was a time of luxury, haute cuisine, caviar, lobster, and foie gras.” Cooper Lounge’s menu will reflect such extravagance.
Look for tableside Colorado wagyu steak tartare with truffled yolk, Caesar salad with Parmigiano Reggiano fondue and sourdough crumbles, as well as bananas Foster and French macarons. But just because the menu trends toward classical cuisine doesn’t mean Symensma is eschewing modernity: The seared foie gras terrine with caramelized onion jam and spiced pear, employs a technique developed by Momofuku powerhouse David Chang that turns a blow torch into a hand-held broiler. The bananas Foster will come with Saigon cinnamon ice cream.
Under Symensma, Cooper Lounge is also expanding its hours to include an all-day menu that includes continental breakfast (7 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and mid-day service (10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) with a three-tiered platter of sandwiches and charcuterie. Look for the new menus to roll out Monday, March 9.
1701 Wynkoop St., 720-460-3738