Fine Brunch at The Nickel

Restaurant in the Hotel Teatro shines on a weekday morning.

008I attended The Nickel’s opening party last summer. The restaurant in the Hotel Teatro was jam-packed. I could tell that it was interesting-looking, the bites and sips I was able to sample were promising, but I had no real sense of what it looked like or how day-to-day food tasted. In fact, I didn’t know enough to write a coherent post for this blog. But a friend and I had brunch there this past weekend, and now I have a true idea of what it’s like, and it’s all good.

Contemporary elegance includes both new and repurposed materials.
Contemporary elegance includes both new and repurposed materials.

The hotel is located in the 1911 Tramway Building, and the restaurant is named after the streetcar’s nickel fares from that era that were stored in the building’s vault. Today, the place is attractive with light streaming in from windows on two sides, lofty ceilings, commodious but unfussy tables, wood floors, large lighting fixtures and a choice of seats (banquettes, long communal tables surrounded by stools and upholstered chairs with winglets — not quite wingchairs but not straight ones either). Barrel-aged spirits are done in-house, and the barrels decorate the bar. The cocktail program looks divine, but it was too early.

Much is house-made, and many ingredients come from Colorado. Telluride-raised Chris Thompson is the talented executive chef who has a way with meat and brings  butchering and charcuterie/salumi to the restaurant. Our waiter was professional, efficient and knowledgeable. And he didn’t address us as “You guys,” which is all too common these days, especially in the college town of Boulder where I live, and which always gets my back up.

The house-cured meats, cheeses, pickles such “goodies” as marcona almonds and  house-made jams appear on a sushi-style menu and are priced by the 1-, 2- or 4-ounce portion.

The sushi-style charcuterie menu is held to a metal plate by a nickel to which a small magnet has been glued.
The sushi-style charcuterie menu is held to a metal plate by a nickel to which a small magnet has been glued.
Our selections beautifully presented on board included jamon Iberico, Midnight Blue cheese from Colorado's Avalanche Ranch. Grana Padano Parmesan and jam, along with bread from Grateful Bread.
Our selections on beautifully presented on board included jamon Iberico, Midnight Blue cheese from Colorado’s Avalanche Ranch. Grana Padano Parmesan and jam, along with bread from Grateful Bread.
Neither of us had room for a full sandwich, so we shared a Porchetta sandwich. Its star was pork belly, rotisserie-roasted for six hours to delicious crispness, and stuffed into a Grateful Bread ciabatta roll along with fresh greens and Castelvetrano olive aioli. Fine-skin-on fries are in a paper cone alongside.
Neither of us had room for a full sandwich, so we shared a Porchetta sandwich. Its star was pork belly, rotisserie-roasted for six hours to delicious crispness, and stuffed into a Grateful Bread ciabatta roll along with fresh greens and Castelvetrano olive aioli. Fine-skin-on fries are in a paper cone alongside.

Price check: At brunch, “To Start,” $8-$13; sandwiches, $13-$18; plates, $13-$16; sides, $3-$5; charcuterie, priced by the ounce.

The Hotel Teatro is at 1100 14th Street, Denver; 303-228-1100.

 

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