By Paul Albani-Burgio, for Denverite
Ask the nearest Denverite about the essential components of a great weekend and they’ll likely mention brunch (at least if the perpetual lines at Snooze and Jelly are any indication).
But what would make that beloved Saturday or Sunday morning ritual even better? How about no limiting brunch to Saturday and Sunday mornings at all and instead making it available every day, from morning to night?
That’s the idea at Bistro Colorado, the new restaurant from Colorado culinary veteran chef Travis Smith slated to open next month at 675 S. Broadway in the Denver Design District.
The restaurant will serve brunch all-day with a menu heavy on morning staples like omelettes and, of course, eggs Benedict, which will come in several variations that will make use of the meats and salmon the restaurant will smoke in-house.
“Anything with poached eggs and hollandaise is going to be killer at Bistro Colorado,” Smith said.
The restaurant’s new space formerly housed Assignments, the student-run restaurant that was part of the culinary school at the Art Institute of Colorado.
Although the design district, which is home mainly to a cluster of furniture wholesalers, might seem an unlikely brunch destination, Smith said he sees it as a natural locale for a spot like Bistro Colorado.
“There’s a number of businesses right there and so I think there is really a need for a restaurant like this there again,” Smith said. “And within a mile you’ve got Wash Park and Baker and multiple other pretty nice neighborhoods.”
There will plenty of lunchtime options, too, including salads, sandwiches, soups and a selection of “signature dishes” such as duck confit, braised lamb chops and a quinoa veggie bowl. Many of those dishes will have a French bent that Smith said is a result of his training in classical French cooking.
Dinner will also eventually be part of Bistro Colorado’s repertoire, although Smith said the restaurant will start out offering breakfast, brunch and lunch. There will also be a small bar that will serve espresso drinks, juices and smoothies as well as cocktails, craft beer, and wine.
The restaurant contains what Smith describes as a cozy dining room with about 50 seats and an outdoor patio with 30 more seats. There is also a small three-seat bar counter. The space is being decorated with an eye toward mixing casual comfort and elegance, Smith said.
“One of the really cool things that I love about the space is that the kitchen is covered in big glass windows that will allow people to see into it from the dining room,” he said.
Bistro Colorado will also employ an unusual service strategy. Breakfast, brunch and coffee will be served from the bar counter during the day before the restaurant transitions to wait service in the evening. Smith said he is hoping to open the restaurant on or around Feb. 10.
The Broadway restaurant will be the second Smith has opened in Colorado. After a lengthy career that included stints as the executive chef at Breckenridge Ski Resort and the founding professor of Metro State University’s hospitality and nutrition program, Smith launched a food truck called Bistro Colorado in 2012. His first restaurant, which was also called Bistro Colorado, opened in Evergreen a year later.
Smith said that though the restaurant developed a loyal following during its five-year run in Evergreen, it never did enough sales volume to make it worthwhile, a problem Smith attributes in part to the small parking lot the restaurant shared with several other businesses.
“When our lease was up there, we determined we would need to make some changes and eventually find a better spot to land,” said Smith.
The location is also a familiar one for Smith, who spent a year serving as a professor in the Art Institute’s culinary program in 2011. That program ended in 2018 after the school shuttered, and it’s been a source of controversy since. Smith is now hoping to recruit some of his former students to join his team, and is already in the process of bringing one on to serve in a management role.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” he said of the opening. “We think Denver will really appreciate having another restaurant where people can go and get brunch pretty much any day of the week. There seems to be a lot of demand for that, and hopefully it will take some of the load off of some of the other very popular breakfast and lunch places.”