It’s been more than two years since Robert Thompson closed his smash hit Argyll Gastropub in Cherry Creek with the pledge to reopen in a bigger, better location. Now, at long last, the restaurateur (who also owns Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar and Punch Bowl Social) is about to make good on that promise. Housed in the Uptown space long occupied by Las Margaritas, Argyll Whisky Beer is set to launch at the beginning of June - and it’s going to be every bit the inspired mash-up of U.K. tradition and local trendsetting Thompson first teased in our 2014 Preview of Most-Anticipated Restaurants, according to executive chef John Broening, if “more charcuterie-intensive and with a greater variety of fish dishes” than its predecessor. Here, in his own words, are five plates to get excited for:
Potted shrimp. "If you’ve never had English potted shrimp, it’s basically shrimp cooked in butter, seasoned with sweet spices and served in a jar with congealed, melted butter on top. I thought, 'This is interesting, but why not do it a little differently?' So I’m making more of a paste with shrimp, sherry, shallots, smoked paprika, butter and lemon. Then I put green-olive tapenade on top, so you have these beautiful layers of pink and green, served with a wedge of lemon and toast."
Bangers and mash. "One of our sous chefs, Aaron Faulkner, is kind of a charcuterie genius. We’re featuring three different sausages - smoked-cranberry kielbasa, merguez and boudin blanc - in a Guinness-onion jus with colcannon-style potatoes, or parsley-and-scallion mash. We’re just taking something that’s traditional, tweaking it and giving it a lot of homemade love."
Curry. "Indian food is considered England’s second cuisine, so we’ll do both a vegetarian cauliflower-potato curry and a chicken-tamarind curry that are big enough to share, accompanied by rice with shaved coconut and almonds as well as cilantro chutney and mango chutney."
A bevy of salads. "For research, we went to Chicago and ate at quite a few gastropubs that left me with an overstuffed, nauseous feeling; I want plenty of things that are light and fresh. So there’ll be a pickled-trout salad with almost no fat but lots of vibrant, crisp vegetables, and a salad of oranges and olives in blood-orange vinaigrette with mint. My favorite, though, is made with local Persian cucumbers that I get from Oxford Gardens and baby red beets. They’re tossed separately in a lightly toasted caraway vinaigrette and placed side by side with a little garlic bread crumb and a horseradish-lime sour cream, plus a little dill. So you've got those Northern European flavors, minus the heaviness."
Masala milk-chocolate tart. "I have to add one more: our pastry chef, Emily Rasmussen-Goodwin, makes this with apricot-ginger confit and cilantro syrup in another takeoff on Indian cooking."
What to pair it all with? “It’s funny you should mention that,” says Broening. “Our beer-and-whiskey cicerone, Ryan Conklin [ex-Euclid Hall, Ste. Ellie], is really a master at bringing food and drink so close together that they're kissing. For a recent event, we did a short rib with cheddar mash that we served with a Station 26 porter, and Ryan showed me just how to add a couple of elements to make the pairing pop - a little sour cherry and a little bit of hot pepper. All the time, he and I are doing tastings to make sure there’s a drink that goes exactly with a dish, and we’ll do that for our guests too - probably starting with small, intimate dinners where we’ll talk about the pairings as they come out. Our whole goal is to take that element to the next level.”
1035 E. 17th Ave.