& That lit­tle is a trend in metro Den­ver restau­rant names

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Allyson Reedy

It’s a sexy lit­tle sym­bol, curvy and exotic, throw­ing it­self at us from above the No. 7 key on a key­board. It’s the am­per­sand (&), and, if you lis­ten care­fully, you can al­most make out the sound of hip­ster restau­rant name-gen­er­a­tors across the land firing up and spit­ting them out, brand­ing new(ish) eater­ies like Hearth & Dram, Milk & Honey and Stoic & Gen­uine with the trend­ing foodie ty­pog­ra­phy of choice.

There it is, dropped smack-dab in the mid­dle — the fas­tener, the lig­a­ment, the glue — uni­fy­ing two of­ten-un­re­lated words. The am­per­sand is to restau­rant names as the com­mu­nity ta­ble is to restau­rant de­sign, or the wood­burn­ing stove is to restau­rant food: a pop­u­lar de­vice in­dica­tive of what’s go­ing on in mod­ern-day food cul­ture meant to take us back to our ori­gins.

The sym­bol calls to mind a time when hand­made, be­spo­ken goods were a ne­ces­sity, not a trend — a.k.a. the so-called golden age of ar­ti­sanal pro­duc­tion with which to­day’s restau­rants long to as­so­ciate.

Wikipedia tells me that the am­per­sand sym­bol can be traced back to the first cen­tury. It all started in old Ro­man cur­sive, where the let­ters e and t (“et” is Latin for “and”) were oc­ca­sion­ally smushed to­gether to form a sin­gle sym­bol. Over the cen­turies, the e-t combo be­came in­creas­ingly styl­ized and even­tu­ally turned into the mod­ern-day & sym­bol that restau­rants know and love.

The lat­est restau­rant to em­ploy the & in its moniker is Broom­field’s Hick­ory & Ash. The new­est spot from the

Kevin Tay­lor Restau­rant Group fea­tures Kevin’s son, Ryan Tay­lor, as ex­ec­u­tive chef and part­ner. So why the &?

“My take on our name has a few dif­fer­ent sym­bol­isms,” Ryan Tay­lor said in an email. “My orig­i­nal thought was sort of the ‘be­fore and af­ter,’ i.e. hick­ory wood burn­ing and turn­ing into ash, which sym­bol­izes the com­pany (Kevin Tay­lor Restau­rant Group) be­ing born again. We’re mov­ing from our fine-din­ing roots into some­thing more play­ful, unique, ca­sual and ap­proach­able. The two-part name also sym­bol­izes the part­ner­ship be­tween me and my dad, i.e. two dif­fer­ent culi­nary per­spec­tives com­ing to­gether to cre­ate one great prod­uct.”

With so many restau­rants abus­ing the se­duc­tive lit­tle &, it can get con­fus­ing. Is it Fork & Spoon, Hutch & Spoon or Rise & Shine that does the great bis­cuits? Which Union Sta­tion am­per­sand restau­rant does seafood: Stoic & Gen­uine or Hearth & Dram?

In what will prob­a­bly be­come our great­est con­tri­bu­tion to hu­mankind, we put to­gether a guide to metro Den­ver’s & restau­rants* so you will never again feel the be­fud­dle­ment of not know­ing your Colt & Gray from your Beatrice & Wood­s­ley. Be­cause, like that come-hither lit­tle sym­bol, we’re all about bring­ing things to­gether. Metro Den­ver Area’s “&” Restau­rants Trans­la­tion: Non­hu­man An­i­mal & Con­tainer for Hold­ing Liq­uids Food: Sea­sonal fine din­ing that cov­ers all the food groups (and taste buds). “Beasts” are typ­i­cally pigs, cows and sheep, while “Bot­tles” are, well, any­thing you can pour down your throat.

Vibe: It may be fine din­ing, but this is the restau­rant that hosts Ge­orge Michael-themed din­ners, so it’s not ex­actly fussy fine din­ing.

719 E. 17th Ave., Den­ver, 303-623-3223; bea­s­tand­bot­ Trans­la­tion: Girl’s Name & Boy’s Name

Food: A lit­tle French (menu items in­clude Es­car­got and Chicken Liver Paté), a lit­tle Ital­ian (think Egg­plant Risotto and Pis­ta­chio Ravi­olo) and a whole lot of clever (The Tor­toise and the Hare small plate coats tur­tle dumplings with rab­bit ragu).

Vibe: The restau­rant is named af­ter a fic­ti­tious love story be­tween a wine­maker’s daugh­ter and the hand­some, hired hand. So yeah, it’s ec­cen­tric and whim­si­cal, and it also has one of the coolest bath­rooms in town. (Look up, and pull the chains.) Trans­la­tion: Counter on Which to Cut & Pantry in Which to Store What You Cut

Food: There’s a big em­pha­sis on in-house butch­ery and, as a re­sult, meat. Pork, lamb and beef reign supreme; whiskey washes it down. Vibe: If a butcher shop and steak­house got to­gether, this would be their spawn.

4000 Ten­nyson St., Den­ver, 303-4334063; blockand­ Trans­la­tion: Prickly Shrub & Rab­bit Food: Con­sid­er­ing the restau­rant ex­ists solely to uti­lize the fresh pro­duce and her­itage breed an­i­mals raised on Black Cat Farm, the menu is fresh and al­ways chang­ing. Vibe: Ag-fab! Very Amer­i­can Pas­toral, but in a mod­ern, au­then­tic way. 1970 13th St., Boul­der, 303-444-9110; bram­ble­and­ Trans­la­tion: Young Male Horse & Color Be­tween Black and White Food: If there’s a theme to these am­per­sand restau­rants, it just might be meat. C&G is carp­ing the diem out of its own butch­ery and cur­ing fa­cil­ity, serv­ing must-or­der coppa, speck, guan­ciale and duck pro­sciutto. Vibe: You know how Colorado is both re­ally cos­mopoli­tan at times but still a lit­tle coun­try? It’s kind of like that.

1553 Platte St., Den­ver, 303-477-1447; Trans­la­tion: Zy­gote-Bear­ing Or­gan­ism From Which a Mul­ti­tude of Species Are De­rived & Me

Food: Fairly tra­di­tional break­fast menu. You’ve got your Bene­dicts, your scram­bles, your omelets, your waf­fles — you know the drill.

Vibe: This is a break­fast chain. They’re not ex­actly chal­leng­ing our no­tions of de­sign over here. Var­i­ous lo­ca­tions; theeg­gandirestau­ Trans­la­tion: Pronged Flat­ware & Curved Flat­ware

Food: Good break­fast, com­plete with the Den­ver brunch sta­ple of bot­tom­less mi­mosas. (Se­ri­ously, is this a city or­di­nance or some­thing?) Vibe: This would be con­sid­ered a fairly no-frills café in the trendier parts of town, but since this is Col­fax, it’s down­right classy.

341 E. Col­fax Ave., Den­ver, 303-8470345; forkand­spoon­den­ (OK, so it’s an “and” and not a “&”; we’re in­clud­ing it any­way be­cause we can.)

Trans­la­tion: Chef Troy & Chef Troy’s Daugh­ter

Food: An over-the-top steak­house. Just how over-the-top, you ask? There’s a $71 Filet Mignon Flight. Vibe: If Guard and Grace was a Spice Girl, it’d be Posh all the way. Up­scale, chic and full of ex­pen­sive wine -just like Vic­to­ria Beck­ham her­self. 1801 Cal­i­for­nia St., Den­ver, 303-2938500; guardand­ Trans­la­tion: Fire­place & Booze Mea­sure­ment

Food: In­ven­tive, quirky menu that in­cludes the stand­out Crab Beignet ap­pe­tizer, Hen of the Woods (a type of mush­room) side and some­thing called the Whole Beast Feast.

Vibe: Strangely, I saw no hearth. I did, how­ever, see a wall of whiskey ... and an empty ta­ble be­cause it can take awhile for food to get out of the kitchen.

1801 We­watta St., Den­ver, 303-6230979; hearthand­ Trans­la­tion: Type of Wood & Byprod­uct of Wood

Food: Dubbed a “mod­ern Amer­i­can meatery,” this is where you go when you’ve got a han­ker­ing for short rib pas­trami.

Vibe: Woodsy, yet in­dus­trial. Sort of like if Bambi’s for­est was put in a ware­house and churned out wid­gets on the side. And there’s a cow skull. 8001 Arista Place, Broom­field, 720390-4400; hick­o­ryan­ Trans­la­tion: Beer & Pizza

Food: Yes, it’s got one of the best beer selections go­ing, but it also puts beer in the pizza. The crust is a 50/50 blend of wa­ter and IPA, which gives it a unique, ro­bust fla­vor. Vibe: Peo­ple tend to re­ally like pizza and beer, and Hops & Pie re­flects that. Happy peo­ple, and lots of them. 3920 Ten­nyson St., Den­ver, 303-4777000; hop­sand­ Trans­la­tion: Cabi­net & Curved Eat­ing Uten­sil

Food: Whole­some, com­fort­ing break­fasts, sand­wiches and soups, plus a great se­lec­tion of cof­fee drinks.

Vibe: Friendly neigh­bor­hood café that gets a lit­tle less friendly on busy week­ends when lo­cals bat­tle it out for the last piece of ba­nana wal­nut bread.

3090 Larimer St., Den­ver, 303-2962317; hutchand­ Trans­la­tion: Some Guy & An­other Guy

Food: Steak, seafood and one of the best happy hours around. (Se­ri­ously, a cheese­burger and fries goes for $5 Mon­day-Fri­day 3-7 p.m. and week­ends 4-7 p.m.)

Vibe: A lit­tle fancy. It screams “cor­po­rate ex­pense ac­count din­ner for peo­ple too busy to look for sim­i­lar lo­cal, in­de­pen­dent restau­rants.” 8100 E. Union Ave., Den­ver, 720-2009339; mc­cormickand­ Trans­la­tion: Mam­mary Gland-Se­creted Lac­tose & Sweet, De­light­ful Nec­tar

Food: It’s fancy. Not just bone mar­row, but bone mar­row brûlée. No mere cala­mari, but pret­zel dusted cala­mari.

Vibe: Lounge-y and dark, be­cause, come on, you’re not eat­ing bone mar­row brûlée un­der flu­o­res­cent lights from Ikea.

1414 Larimer St., Den­ver, 303-9977590; milka­nd­honey­bark­ Trans­la­tion: Small, Bit­ter Fruit & Com­mon Pet Bird

Food: Of all the “chef-driven,” “farmto-ta­ble” eater­ies out there, this is one of the best. The ca­sual café makes great break­fasts and lunches 1552 E. 17th Ave., Den­ver, 303-832-8663 and 3390 E. First Ave., Den­ver, 303955-0455; olive­ Trans­la­tion: Pork & Veg­gies

Food: Treat your­self — or not — with a menu split be­tween in­dul­gent, meat-cen­tric fare (there’s some­thing called “Ba­con Candy” on the menu) and health­ier veg­e­tar­ian en­trees (like Smoked Beet Carpac­cio and Tofu Fried Riced Cauliflower). Vibe: Ex­actly what you’d ex­pect from a new restau­rant in the Union Sta­tion area: in­dus­trial and trendy, with a gi­ant “Oink” sign thrown in for good mea­sure.

1900 Ch­est­nut Place, Den­ver, 720-5359719; pi­gand­ Trans­la­tion: Get Up & Glow

Food: Bis­cuits! Chicken bis­cuits, beer bis­cuits, bis­cuit sand­wiches, bis­cuit cin­na­mon rolls, bis­cuits of the day wor­thy of ex­cla­ma­tion points! Vibe: Sim­ple neigh­bor­hood spot with a sim­ple menu. If you want rein­vented eggs Bene­dict, go wait two hours for Snooze.

5126 W. 29th Ave., Den­ver, 720-8550540; rise­and­shine­den­ Trans­la­tion: Sodium Chlo­ride & Sand­wich

Food: East Coast-style, bring-on-the­meat sand­wiches in­spired by chef Frank Bo­nanno’s child­hood in Jer­sey. Vibe: Li­brary meets deli, be­cause why not?

3609 W. 32nd Ave., Den­ver, 303-9454200; saltand­ Trans­la­tion: Pasta & The Stuff You Put on Pasta

Food: Yes, there’s pasta (a lot of pasta), but there is also a good se­lec­tion of non-pasta Ital­ian sta­ples like pizza, chicken parmi­giana (OK, that one is served with pasta) and saltim­bo­cas (al­right, fine, that’s served with pasta, too -- like I said, there’s a lot of pasta).

Vibe: Sim­ple, fairly old-school Ital­ian bistro with a big bar and nice pa­tio. There will be pasta.

2600 12th Ave., Den­ver, 303-377-2091; shell­sand­ Trans­la­tion: Ap­a­thetic & Sin­cere Food: Su­per-fresh, in­no­va­tive seafood dishes, plus caviar and oys­ters ga­lore.

Vibe: The open kitchen — and Union Sta­tion set­ting — are hop­ping. Where else can you watch oys­ters be­ing shucked, drink a lilikoi granita cocktail and hear peo­ple curse at their missed train con­nec­tions all in the same spot?

1701 Wynkoop St., Den­ver; 303-6403474; sto­ican­d­gen­ Trans­la­tion: Em­ploy­ment & So­cial Stra­tum Sharing Ba­sic Eco­nomic Char­ac­ter­is­tics

Food: Cozy, Latin and Amer­i­can mash-up of meats (red-chile braised pork, ro­tis­serie chicken, roasted goat) and apps (def­i­nitely get the Pep­pers Five Ways).

Vibe: Com­fort­able and un­pre­ten­tious; the name is Work & Class, for good­ness’ sake.

2500 Larimer St., Den­ver, 303-2920700; workand­class­den­

Pa­trons dine on Stoic & Gen­uine’s out­door pa­tio.

Rachel Adams, pro­vided by Hick­ory & Ash

A lob­ster dish from Hick­ory & Ash in Broom­field.

Den­ver Post file

Delores Tronco de­liv­ers a plate from the kitchen of Work & Class in Den­ver.

Den­ver Post file

Crab cakes at Milk & Honey on 14th and Larimer streets.

* It’s not just restau­rants get­ting in on the & game. We left out es­tab­lish­ments bet­ter-known for drinks than food, like Wil­liams & Gra­ham, Millers & Rossi, Bull & Bush and Dave & Buster’s.

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