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Representations of Southern food in Denver tend to be fairly predictable: fried chicken, barbecue, biscuits. Not so at Julep, a new modern Southern spot in RiNo that’s reinvigorating the genre’s over-played themes.
Kyle Foster, formerly of Colt & Gray and Rebel Restaurant, along with his wife, Katy Foster, owner of Stir Cooking School, opened the sophisticated eatery yesterday. The restaurant’s design combines stately touches (regal wood chairs, a sparkly chandelier above the host stand) with all the requisite hipster nods (greenery, exposed ductwork, a garage door that slides open to the patio). The best table in the house is unequivocally the two-top perched on the mezzanine overlooking the kitchen, from which you can peer down through the glass and watch as Foster and his crew work their magic.
I say magic because they must know some to render turnips so delicious. The seared, halved root vegetables are bathed in a creamy, peanut butter-inflected sauce, spiked with a hit of thyme vinegar, and served with their own greens. The dish is a study in balance. In fact, it came as a bit of a surprise to me that Foster—a Southerner known for his skills with meat and charcuterie—has devoted so much of Julep’s menu to these types of composed vegetable plates. Another must-order: Lightly charred, wood-fired broccoli set atop parsnip purée, accented with blood orange, shavings of cured egg yolk, and benne seed (akin to sesame seed). Also, the rutabaga and onion tart with sorghum syrup and sage, which is akin to a sweet-and-savory tarte tatin. And if it’s meat you’re after, you’ll find it in the form of deviled snails in a Worcestershire-heavy sauce or the juicy pork and oyster sausage served with malted barley and hopped celery.
If that all sounds a bit intimidating, you might consider dropping by for lunch or brunch—Julep is already open for both—rather than dinner. During those daytime meals, you can ease into Foster’s take on Southern flavors with more approachable items such as chicken-fried steak smothered in country gravy and a (house-made) bologna sandwich with butterbean chow chow. The weekend brunch even has fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits on the menu. But my recommendation is to order adventurously and enjoy the delicious ride.
3258 Larimer St., 303-295-8977