JEFFERSON PARK — For months the construction of the new Briar Common brewery intrigued me as I drove towards town on 23rd. Slowly but steadily the rooftop deck overlooking Jefferson Park and the brewing rooms became clear. When it opened, my family dined there several times taking in the rich offerings. And since none of us drink, we invited our beer reviewer Kelli Schermerhorn to add her thoughts about their beer.
This retail space has had many uses over the years. I best knew it as a print shop, but then it became a wedding store and has had many other retails uses over the past century. This current use is by far the most architecturally bold reuse of the space. Two brewing rooms can be seen from the dining area. A bar flanks one wall with a gracious bar and comfortable stools. The main room features modern, bright chandeliers above a muted color palette of tans, grays, and black. A stairwell leads up to the upstairs bar and rooftop deck.
The menu is very pork heavy, although there are a few vegetarian and non-pork options. It is divided into Snacks, Shared, and Main. My father-in-law is a vegetarian, so he selected The Salad, $ 12, with bibb, brassicas, watermelon, spicy candied peanuts, goat crema, tomato, gaufrettes, and a hibiscus vinaigrette. The salad was both beautiful and filling. The goat crema lined the plate allowing him to load up the watermelon chunks with the richness.
My mother-in-law chose the Chicken + Hash, $ 10, fried thigh pieces, corn + sweet potato hash, tomato coulis, with green oil. This arrived set out on a long platter in an artful arrangement. While my mother-in-law enjoyed the chicken, she raved about the hash. It had a nice balance of sweet and savory, crispy and fluffy.
My husband ordered The Burger, $ 16, with house ground, Moroccan spiced, bread and butter watermelon, radish, mushroom, catsup, bibb, pork belly, and goat cheese. Wow, this was a rich burger. My husband loved it, but we both found it extremely rich.
Trying to eat more lightly, I tried the Colorado Trout, $ 20, with pork spiked lentils, citrus, and a brassica salad along with remoulade. The pork spiked I thought would mean lentils stewed in pork broth. Oh no, this was a large serving of shredded pork with tiny lentils. No heart relief in this dish. The trout was nicely seasoned and cooked perfectly. I enjoyed the meal although I was surprised by the amount of pork.
They offered two desserts – a hot, creamy Mexican Chocolate with Churros as well as a Panna Cota. They were both very rich and very delicious.
My husband and I returned alone and sampled a few more of the Snacks. On this visit, we decided upon the Korean Egg, $ 6, pickled egg, pork mandu filling, tempura, and gochujang. This seemed very much like a Scottish Egg but with a more savory, pungent aroma from the gochujang. We also tried the Smoked Portobello Carpaccio, $ 7, drizzled with chile oil, Brassica pesto, and pepitas. I loved this dish. The thin sliced Portobellos held their own in a dish typically made with sliced meat. The pepitas, toasted squash seeds, gave a nice spicy crunch. On this visit, my husband also chose the Smoked Lamb, $ 24, with hickory smoked lamb chops, confit rutabaga, smoked pepper crème Fraiche, mint and nutmeg chutney. Like all of their dishes, this one was generous and flavorful. My husband could only eat a small portion of the meat and enjoyed it the next day as leftovers.
I tried the Harissa Smoked Ribs, $ 15, with soy glaze, furikake, bread and butter watermelon radish. These meaty ribs were very generous. I found the saltiness, however, to overwhelm the other flavors.
On a return visit with our beer writer Kelli, we ate at the bar where we shared the Carnitas Papas Bravas, $ 8, crispy potato, romesco, cilantro, chipotle aioli, with pickles. This shared dish had shredded carnitas piled with architectural flair on top of the crispy potatoes with an overall red hue from the red pepper sauce. We also shared the Pork Belly Platter, $ 16 with a generous pile of Bibb, crispy potato skins, sweet soy, house pickles, jams + sauces. The thick slices of pork belly were to be wrapped in lettuce with jams and potatoes. This was a quite delicious and generous meal made to share.
At long last winter is arriving, so we did not enjoy the rooftop deck. We did appreciate the attentive and knowledgeable service on each outing. The food is flavorful, and my beer expert Kelli remarked that each beer she selected satisfied her. (See her review tomorrow.)
2298 Clay St, Denver, CO 80211
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