Instead of a historic brick building in a long-established neighborhood as in Boulder, Denver’s LoDo and Fort Collins, Jax Cherry Creek is in a building so new that a construction crane was still hoisting things to the second story where a club called Hi Jax will soon open offering “views, booze and food.” The décor and the ambiance may be different, but the “sea to table” seafood is as good as I expect from Jax. Also, unique among Jax locations, the new one has a pastry chef, Jennifer Lewis.
The downstairs restaurant has a very cool bar. Hanging from the high ceiling is a wood-cutout art installation resembling the hull of a boat. Food comes from a raw bar, a counter for hot steamers and an open kitchen lined with chalkboard green tiles. One especially clever touch are pillars consisting of wire tubes filled with clean oyster shells. Duane Walker, who came to Colorado for the snowboarding, eventually found his way into restaurant kitchens, most recently as executive chef at LOLA and is now chef de cuisine at this sparkling new Jax, which is also the only one with a pastry chef, Jennifer Lewis.
We were sometimes served family-style and several dishes at a time, which was perfect for sampling, and sometimes got single small-plate portions. Chef Walker popped out from the kitchen before every course and rattled off the long list of ingredients for each — far to many for accurate notes, so here are some images or the creative and interesting dishes with minimal captions — and the freshness that Jax seafood is known for.
From top to bottom: Peppercorn Seared Ahi Tuna, Grilled Heart of Romaine, Lobster Ravioli, Crème Fraîche Roasted Salmon, Shrimp Remoulade and Sweet Corn Fritters, this last being something of a sweet savory.
Again from the top, Sweet Corn Fitters with Caramel Popcorn, Banana Split and Out-of-the-Oven Fruit Cobbler.
Price Check: Lunch plates, $12-$27; Steamers, Soups and Salads, $5-$17; “Between the Bread,” $13-$22; “From the Raw Bar,” $12-$40 (plus Chilled Seafood Platter, $86 or $168). Happy Hour food. $-$6 (plus oysters, $1.25 each). At dinner, starters, $11-$19, plus oysters, $3.50 each; Steamers, Soups and Salads, $5-$11; “Specialties” (entrees), $13-$38; “From the Raw Bar,” $12-$40 (plus Chilled Seafood Platter, $86 or $168 (same price as at lunch); “Caviar & Roe,” $31-$45/1 ounde – $140/ounce; sides $3-$4. Dessert (same price day and evening), $3-$9.