Chef Alex Seidel (a 2010 Food & Wine Best New Chef and the owner of Fruition) just opened Mercantile Dining & Provision in Union Station. Here's what to know before you go.
The Gist: The largest restaurant in the spectacularly remodeled train depot, the 5,000-sq.-ft. space includes an artisanal market, state-of-the-art barista station, chef’s counter, two patios, wine library and open kitchen. “For years, I’ve wanted to do a restaurant with a market to give us chefs unique opportunities to educate the community about sourcing and ingredients,” explains Seidel, who, along with chef de cuisine and Zagat 30 under 30 honoree Matthew Vawter, opened the restaurant. “We want our chefs and guests to have conversations about recipes, spices, food and cooking,” adds Seidel, who deliberately designed his kitchen so that patrons and cooks would engage in conversation.
The Space: Think of Mercantile as a culinary museum: a hallway of jarred spices, dried fruits, nuts and legumes that double as a pantry for the kitchen intersects with burlap-topped canning jars revealing housemade apple butter, giardiniera, bread-and-butter pickles and cinnamon-poached peaches — all part of the daily changing provisions the market sells. Tempting charcuterie and a spread of cheeses, some of which are crafted at Seidel’s dairy farm and creamery in Elizabeth, are displayed next to house-baked croissants and morning blueberry-studded muffins. The dining room is bordered by elegantly tall windows and flanked by a narrow alcove with a long community table and floor-to-ceiling wine cellar.
The Food: For breakfast, go for the heavenly chocolate croissant ($5) or the croque madame ($8), made with cave-aged Gruyère, ham and a soft, yolk-dribbling egg. Dinner boasts sharable snacks like smoked salmon rillettes ($7) and pot au foie gras with fig marmalade and cipollini onions ($17), along with housemade pastas and vegetarian, seafood and meat entrees. The kitchen rewards larger tables with family-style dinners: a 32-oz. bone-in rib-eye ($85) paired with confit fingerling potatoes and grilled cauliflower, and roasted Colorado lamb shoulder pooled in lamb jus with fresh rosemary and roasted shallots ($65). And, of course, charcuterie and cheese abound.
The Drink: There are fresh-squeezed juices and jolts of java from Commonwealth Coffee (try the coffee flight!). Stuart Jensen, formerly of Green Russell, oversees the cocktail lineup. Six craft cocktails, including the Shotgun Wedding (tequila, fresh cantaloupe and lime juice, grapefruit-and-tarragon shrub and soda water). The beverage roster also includes a foursome of tap beers and a handful of hard-to-find bombers, all of which are brewed in Colorado. Fourteen wines — bubbles, reds and whites — are poured by the glass, and the compelling wine list, curated by sommelier Patrick Houghton, flows wide and deep with nearly 200 selections, most of which are priced between $50 and $90.
The Details: 1701 Wynkoop St.; 720-460-3733
Hours: The market is open daily from 7 AM, and dinner is served from 5 to 10 PM, Monday through Thursday and until 11 PM on Friday and Saturday.
Baguette with butter, cheese and French ham
Coffee flight from Commonwealth Coffee
Jarred spices, dried fruits, nuts and legumes are available at the market
The space is enclosed by elegant, tall windows
The bar and adjoining market's glass-enclosed shelves are visible in the main dining room
Chef de cuisine Matthew Vawter and owner-chef Alex Seidel