Great things tend to happen when good friends work together. That’s certainly the case at Hearth & Dram, the wood-fire-and-whiskey restaurant located on the ground floor of the Hotel Indigo behind Union Station.

Executive chef Adam Vero, formerly of TAG Restaurant Group, took over the kitchen at Hearth & Dram about a year ago, and through near-constant collaboration with his chef de cuisine Jeff Hickman, also a TAG alum, the two have forged a delicious new path, and a new menu, based on a shared love for wood-fire cooking, as well as “meat, whiskey, and rock ’n roll.”

The “whole beast feasts” that have been a Hearth & Dram staple since it opened in 2017 are now more expansive, but also more focused. Not only are pigs, ducks, and lambs available for these family-style meals, but you can also dig into beef, seafood, and goat menus, each with a distinctive approach that incorporates as much as of the animal as possible. The goat feast, for example, features Latin American techniques and ingredients (al pastor and goat head pupusas), while the duck feast focuses on the flavors of Asia (yakitori duck wings and duck meatball pho).

Dishes on both the lunch and dinner menus change several times each week, but one thing is kept constant: dedication to making most-everything from scratch. That includes house-made tofu, buttery Hawaiian sweet rolls, sourdough pretzels, various pickles, and even corn chips for a take on Frito pie. (There’s also a new weekday-only two-course lunch menu for $16.)

The beverage menu has undergone an overhaul too. Hearth & Dram’s bar still stocks more than 300 whiskeys, but there’s also a flight of private barrel whiskeys and a new cocktail menu that includes delightful sips such as the Romeo & Julep, an herbaceous mix of WhistlePig 12-year-aged rye, Amaro Montenegro, Distillery 291’s the Decc, absinthe, and Leopold Bros.’ tart cherry liqueur.

Here are a few of the spring menu items you don’t want to miss:

Inspired by Vero and Hickman’s annual Friendsgiving menu, which always includes a deli pea salad with cheddar, the duo created this more refined iteration with confit morels, fresh English peas, crème fraîche, and extraordinary two-year-aged cheddar from now-closed Avalanche Cheese Company in Paonia.
Crispy smashed red potatoes are wonderfully creamy inside and dressed up with ají amarillo butter, cotija, and fresh herbs.
Few Denver restaurants make tofu from scratch, but it’s being done at Hearth & Dram. Here, the smoked-and-grilled tofu is served with a vegan roasted vegetable demi-glace, fermented cabbage, maitake mushrooms, and pickled daikon.
Seared scallops are paired with braised oxtail potstickers, Chinese broccoli, house-made XO sauce, and garlic chips.
This showstopper underscores Vero and Hickman’s dedication to nose-to-tail (and fin) cooking: Halibut tail, meant to be picked apart with your fingers, is rich, flavorful, and totally unexpected. Green garbanzo beans, a pea-mint purée, pickled onions, and falafel round out the plate.
It took the team more than 10 tries to get the recipe for this pecan blondie just right. Served with red miso butterscotch and brown butter pecan ice cream, it’s a sweet-and-salty cookie-cake hybrid.
Hearth & Dram’s private-barrel whiskey flight is presented on a WhistlePig stave and served with a dropper of the same Kentucky limestone water used to distill WhistlePig’s spirits. First, try each whiskey straight, and then use the water to dilute and open up the spirit, if you so choose.

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.