The gist: In the who’s who of chefs and restaurateurs leading the Front Range farm-to-table movement, Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk come first. The commitments they made to responsible and transparent sourcing, energy conservation, waste reduction and recycling when they opened The Kitchen in Boulder in 2004 broke ground that, today, everybody treads. Since then, they’ve launched projects designed to return control of America’s foodways to local communities nationwide — from Learning Gardens in underserved school districts to the urban-farming initiative Square Roots — all while turning The Kitchen and its gastropub spin-off, Next Door, into multistate franchises under the trademarked motto “Real Food for Everyone.” And now they’ve got one more model for living up to that motto: Hedge Row, which opened in Cherry Creek on July 10 even as construction began on an Indianapolis outpost.
The look: Entering Hedge Row, fans of its siblings will instantly see the family resemblance. With soaring ceilings and mod chandeliers, arty chalkboards and pillow-lined banquettes, lots of blond wood and pops of color, the Coda Building ground-floor space conveys that urban loft–meets-farmhouse sensibility we’ve come to expect. In a morphed image of The Kitchen and Next Door, Hedge Row would represent the halfway point: refined enough for a Friday night date, casual enough for a family outing.
The food: The same goes for the New American menu, a subtle hybrid of Matheson and Musk’s other brands with a wood-fired twist of its own. Early crowd favorites, we’re told, include the Greek-inspired lamb meatballs, lettuce-wrapped fried fish “tacos," roast chicken with curried couscous and yogurt, and the whole roasted artichoke with dry-cured olives. (The Kitchen's famous tomato soup and sticky toffee pudding should go without saying.) But we’re partial so far to the dirty-rice fritters pictured above and the mole-braised short rib in the gallery below.
The drinks: Simple yet not boring. Sure, there’s Sauvignon Blanc and domestic Pinot Noir by the glass, but they’re from Alto Adige and Santa Barbara, respectively, rather than New Zealand and Oregon. (And the bottle list is as stylish as could be, if not cheap.) Local staples like Avery Lilikoi and Telluride Face Down Brown dominate the beer selection. And cocktails skew classic and breezy: think Aperol spritzes and daiquiris, perfect for an afternoon spent soaking up the sun on the patio.
The details: 100 Steele St.; 720-642-8292. Hedge Row is now open from 11 AM until last call daily.