Culinary Cruisin’ in Downtown Golden

Three chefs raising the bar in Western-accented Front
Range town.

Dining-clipartGolden, cozying up to the foothills west of Denver, is known as a charming town that plays up its Western roots, has a robust downtown and features the world’s largest brewery (that would be Coors). It is also boasting an increasingly diverse and tasty food scene. Visit Golden organized a small, intimate itinerary to a trio of interesting downtown restaurants (well, two downtown and one not far away).

Abejas

001Abejas is Spanish for “bees,” but this new restaurant has nothing to do with a honey-centric menu. The partners — Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh — met at the Hill Top Restaurant and went their separate ways when it closed. They rekindled their longtime dream of opening their own place,  whose name subtly references the first letters of the partners’ first names.

Located in a once-upon-a-time-Piggly-Wiggly a few steps off Golden’s main drag,  Shike Design, whose Denver previous restaurant projects include Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Cuba Cuba, Epernay and Root Down, designed the interior. The rustic and responsibly sourced interior features reclaimed barn wood, corrugated metal and old doors from a ranch in Golden that was being sold. The sprightly, modern and creative menu likewise aspires to source as much of the menu locally as possible.

In addition to reclaimed materials, Abejas features a simple room divider or snake plants and red tops threaded on frame.
In addition to reclaimed materials, Abejas features a simple room divider of snake plants and red ropes threaded between the ceiling and a beam.

With Dobesh occupied these days at Brexi and Steakhouse 316 in Aspen, he brought in Nick Ames to helm the Abejas kitchen. The California Culinary Academy grad’s C.V.  includes Duo, an early culinary hotspot in Denver’s Highlands ‘hood.

A lovely and delicious light salt cod fritter, purple sweet potato, celery root, quail egg, borage flower and minced olive.
A lovely and delicious light salt cod fritter, purple sweet potato, celery root, quail egg, borage flower and minced olive.
A wintry combination of baked pork belly pancetta, pumpkin purée, pumpkin crumble and bok choy.
A wintry combination of thickly sliced pork belly pancetta, pumpkin purée, pumpkin crumble and bok choy.

807 13th Street, Golden, 303-952-9745.

Abejas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bridgewater Grill

For a long time, the Bridgewater Grill in the Golden Hotel was one of the few ambitious restaurants in downtown Golden. A changing cast of chefs with different visions was problematic, but now the elevated ambitions and executions of executive chef Mark Willig are bringing new creativity and refinement to the menu.

His career has taken him to major resorts, a cruise ship, the Chicago Bears and Peru, where he ran his own restaurant and catering company. This picaresque career has given him a cosmopolitan outlook and an appreciation of local, fresh and distinctive fare. Like other with-it restaurants there is also an ambitious cocktail program.

Two potent cocktails: the Black Moon Martini made with local Golden Moon gin, muddled blackberries. Triple Sec and lime in a glass with a sugared rim. On the right, a gold fasion made with Gunfighter rye, soda water, muddled cranberries and oranges and a cherry. I had to drive back to Boulder, so I just tasted.
Two potent cocktails: the Black Moon Martini made with local Golden Moon gin, muddled blackberries. Triple Sec and lime in a glass with a sugared rim. On the right, a gold fashion made with Gunfighter rye, soda water, muddled cranberries and oranges and a cherry. I had to drive back to Boulder, so I just tasted.
The clever presentation of three tasting portions was presented on a wood board covered with brown paper on which the dishes were identified. Upper left, shrimp ceviche. Center, beef carpaccio crostini. Right, Colorado wild game meatloaf.
The clever presentation of three tasting portions was presented on a wood board covered with brown paper on which the dishes were identified. Upper left, shrimp ceviche. Center, Colorado wild game meatloaf. Right, beef carpaccio crostini.
Closeup of shrimp ceviche, which comes in a small iron skillet with pineapple salsa, radish, avocado, onion, cucumber and cilantro propped up against wonton crisps.
Closeup of shrimp ceviche, which comes in a small iron skillet with pineapple salsa, radish, avocado, onion, cucumber and cilantro microgreens propped up on  wonton crisps.
The meatloaf is made of Colorado bison and is served with tomato chutney, demi-glace and a crisp potato topper.
The meatloaf is made of Colorado bison and pork, and is served with tomato chutney, demi-glace and a crisp potato topper.
Apple cranberry cobbler served in its iron baking dish with cinnamon ice cream, an inspired fall/winter combo when ice cream is desired.
Apple cranberry cobbler served in its iron baking dish with cinnamon ice cream, an inspired fall/winter combo when ice cream is desired.

The restaurant, which is in the Golden Hotel, is cozy on a winter’s eve but really shines in the warm months with its creekside ambiance. 800 Eleventh Street, Golden; 303-279-0100.

Bridgewater Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Briarwood Inn

BriarwoodInn-logoThe Briarwood Inn is a family-run and family-friendly Golden classic. Reid Pasko founded the restaurant in 1979,  so this venerable restaurant, is pushing 40. Under his daughter, Lisa Patterson, it has matured with style and grace. It remains in the hands of the founding family who have guarded its traditional ambiance and fine service, even as the menus have been updated. It started as a small restaurant, became a supper club with food and dancing, and now is a large restaurant known for its opulent bunch service, holiday dining and décor, its large outdoor patio its place for weddings and other special occasions.

Still, it flies under the Denver area culinary radar. Except for Gabby Gourmet, it  is missing from every local food guidebook that I own, including my own Culinary Colorado. Now that I’ve finally been there, I can’t understand why. The current chef, Jeff Jones, came to the Briarwood from P17 (formerly Parallel 17), so he knows how to prepare contemporary dishes that are as attractive as they are delicious. Duncan Newman, the general manager, gets kudos for perfectly orchestrating front-of-the-house activities.

The signature drink, called the Briarwood Cocktail, is made with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, muddled cherries and Tin Cup Whiskey.
The signature drink, called the Briarwood Cocktail, is made with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, muddled cherries and Tin Cup Whiskey.
This sampling dish appears on the menu as The Medallions, and it's a medal-winner in my book. Left, Maple Farms duck breast with pistachio baklava and pear/parsnip puree. Center, half of a lobster tail over lobster risotto. Right, filet Oskar with a savory Parmesan cheesecake and garlic tuile.
This sampling dish appears on the menu as The Medallions, and it’s a medal-winner in my book. Left, Maple Farms duck breast with pistachio baklava and pear/parsnip puree.
Center, half of a lobster tail over lobster risotto. Right, filet Oskar with a savory Parmesan cheesecake and garlic tuile.

The Briarwood Inn is at 1630 Eighth Street, Golden; 303-279-3121.

The Briarwood Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

3 thoughts on “Culinary Cruisin’ in Downtown Golden”

  1. Thanks, Claire. I was in Golden just yesterday (to visit The Foothills Art Gallery and the Quilt Museum) – wish I’d known about these restaurants!

  2. Well Andy, you know for NEXT time. I’ve enjoyed a number of exhibitions at the Foothills Art Center, but it’s been years since I visited the quilt museum. I heard it has recently expanded and/or relocated.

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