Yesterday, I got to peek inside Beast & Bottle, the restaurant that has taken over the Olivéa space on 17th Avenue. It’s still a construction zone, but siblings Paul and Aileen Reilly (who were behind the late Encore Restaurant) are beginning to see their vision come into focus. The duo has amassed their team, and it’s a talented one: chefs Wade Kirwan (formerly of Vesta Dipping Grill and Adrift) and James Rugile (who helmed the burners at Venue before leaving to cook at Mizuna) will join Paul in the kitchen. Aileen will head up the front of the house and the wine program, and Dean Copeland, who managed the bar at Encore, will reclaim his spot behind the stick.

When Beast & Bottle opens in March, the “rustic American craft restaurant,” as Aileen calls it, will serve dinner and brunch Tuesday through Sunday. (Brunch service will begin about 10 days after the opening). The idea, says Paul, “is to take the best elements of Encore and elevate them.” A couple dishes will make the move (namely the fig ’n’ pig flatbread and the legendary fries) but the Reillys are steadfast that this is not Encore reincarnated. The dinner menu will be smaller and more focused: small plates, vegetables, flatbreads, and six entrées—and all selections will be based on “sustainability and versatility.” Paul will butcher his meats on-site (a new walk-in fridge outside the back door will serve as a meat locker) and his fish selections will reflect the knowledge he gained under his Jean-Louis Palladin work/study grant. Expect choices such as turbot, fluke, and Maine pollock. The Reillys have also taken up a flock of egg-laying hens at Cottonwood Creek Farms in Merino, near Sterling.

The Reilly’s attention to quality and accessibility also extends to the beer and wine lists. City Star Brewing in Berthoud is making Beast & Bottle’s house beer: a saison called Barn House Ale. Aileen’s wine program is based on the European style of drinking (look for 6-ounce, 120-millileter, and liter pours) and the bottle list will be divided into five affordable price points.

The restaurant’s decor, which will be largely white with gray, brown, and burgundy accents, will reflect the simplicity of the menu. Booths will flank the east wall, a banquette will line the back wall, and distressed tables and chairs will fill the middle. Gone is Olivéa’s awkward partition between the dining room and the bar—the seating will be more open and a high-top community table near the front will help extend the bar. Eventually, the Reillys will add an accordion-style front window so, in nice weather, the patio and dining room will become one.

As a casual neighborhood spot, Beast & Bottle appears destined to fill the void left by Olivéa. Thus, it seems only fitting that the restaurant will open in the spring, a season that’s rich with new growth and potential.

Chef Trivia: Paul Reilly, Wade Kirwan, and James Rugile have all worked together at one time or another—Paul and James at Black Pearl, Paul and Wade at Encore, and Wade and James at Vesta—but never as a team of three.

719 E. 17th Ave.

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.