New gastropub features rustic-style decor, tightly focused pork- and seafood-centric menu and keg wines
There’s a literary reference to the name Old Major, chef Justin Brunson’s latest venture in the neighboring red hot restaurant districts west of the South Platte and I-25. In Highland, Old Major, named after the featured porker in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, sports the trendy rustic look utilizing reclaimed wood and hefty furniture, has a small menu (changing every two or three months, says Brunson) and a big vision of featuring the distinctive tastes of “seafood, swine and wine.” A cool slogan, and the adjective “fine” could accurately be attached to each.
The upscale gastropub’s buzz built instantly from a soft opening over the weekend, a couple of private parties and a mid-day media preview today. The food at Old Major is both robust and sophisticated, but what also really impressed me is the restaurant’s ground-breaking policies in the food service biz. There are no runners or bussers (those who bring the food-laden dishes also take the dirty ones away). In fact, there are just two levels of servers, a word that general manager Jonathan Greschler says actually isn’t used. because it implies a class system that is eschewed.
Along the same egalitarian line, Brunson says they’ve hired cooks who might become chefs and waitstaff who might become restaurant owners. Additionally, to help staff on the road financial stability should they want to take out a loan or a mortgage, tips are added to each person’s paycheck rather than distributed nightly in cash. Real admirable policy which Greschler calls revolutionary in the restaurant industry. In other words, policy copycats welcomed.
For the media preview, along with fine adult beverages at each place, tasting plates were set on the table – one for every four guests. We happily sampled what was put in front of us, but dining guests are going to be using iPads while the bar menu will be printed on conventional paper.
Price check: Small plates, $9-$17 (plus pan-seared foie gras for $25); The Farmer (vegetarian), salads, $8 plus 3-course tasting menu, $30; The Butcher (meat entrées), $27-$30, plus 24-ounce bone-in ribeye, $60; The Monger (seafood entrées), $26-$30; sides $7.