Viva, Viand!

Former fondue place now a “modern American” eatery.

Viand-logoThe co-joined restaurants at 15th and Arapahoe have been several things. Until recently, the corner space was a steakhouse, a place that looked uninviting due to lattice obscuring the windows, and the next space along 15th specialized in fondue. Now, the steak space that was Gallagher’s then Hickory Prime and then just Prime Steakhouse has become the “Cheers”-like, lattice-free Reunion Gastropub + Wine Bar, and the old La Fondue/Le Chateau space is the light and attractive Viand Modern American.  Where’s my scorecard?

Rodriguez and Menu over the head of one of Viand's media guests.
Rodriguez and Menu over the head of one of Viand’s media guests.

I went to Reunion for lunch on November 13 and had a long chat with manager Martin Hammer, a Front Range veteran restaurateur. By the time I returned for a media gathering at Viand on December 1, both Hammer and the young chef were gone. The current headliners are consulting chef Dana Rodriguez and executive chef Victor Mena. Both go back a long way, when they worked together at Tamayo, at Rioja and most recently at Work & Class, Rodriguez’s  brainchild/dream-come-true on the southern reaches of RiNo.

House-made burrata with a house-made pretzel, a curl of sweet red pepper and walnut pesto star on this board.
House-made burrata with a house-made pretzel, a curl of sweet red pepper and walnut pesto star on this board.
Poached pear with shaved Pecorino, grilled radicchio, hazelnut vinaigrette and pomegranate reduction.
Poached pear with shaved Pecorino, grilled radicchio, hazelnut vinaigrette and pomegranate reduction.
Asparagus, pork belly and poached egg with strips of shaved Pecorino.
Asparagus, pork belly and poached egg with strips of shaved Pecorino.
Beautifully seared scallops atop zucchini cakes with a nut-free Romesco-style tomato sauce and a few olives alongside.
Beautifully seared scallops atop zucchini cakes with a nut-free Romesco-style tomato sauce and a few olives alongside.
The menu calls this unusual and delicious dessert,
The menu calls this unusual and delicious dessert, “Avocado-Lime Pie.” It’s a combo of avocado and lime topped with crunchy pistachios and whipped cream — served in a coffee cup.

Price check: Small plates, $8-$12 (plus $18 for large risotto); #14-$21 (plus $28 for New York strip).

Zomato.com has not yet discovered Viand, which is at 1040 Fifteenth Street, Denver, just a block from the Denver Performing Arts Center. I’m hoping they will soon offer a pre-theater menu.