Denver’s culinary scene has come a long way in the past decade with chefs creating exciting concepts in both food and drinks. However, it wasn’t until Beckon opened in November 2018 that Denver had a true jewel in its foodie crown. The city’s only chef’s counter restaurant, Beckon is known for its seasonal menus, exclusivity (the restaurant welcomes just 36 guests each night) and style.
Situated next to its sister restaurant, Call, Beckon is a play without a program: You don’t know what will happen. Wander through the gate and a cozy patio awaits, replete with a fire pit and blankets for chilly evenings. Guests can congregate here with a cocktail before dinner or linger here after the culinary journey. The waiting room is also the bar, stocked with glassware and welcoming smiles from Allison Anderson, director of experience.
But it’s after the (literal) curtain is lifted that the true stage appears. A U-shaped counter accommodates 18 guests for two seatings. At the head, the range is manned by several chefs while the interior bustles with even more activity: chopping, slicing, pouring … quenelleing. At one point, the ratio of guests to staff was two to one. But to execute a show like Beckon does twice each evening, the choreography has to be perfect.
Nine courses from Chef Duncan Holmes are presented over two-and-a-half hours, some delivered and some handed over the underlit counter, fresh from plating. However, first things first: Beverages are in order.
In addition to classy cocktails, Beckon offers wine both by the glass and as a pairing with each course. Life is short—opt for the pairing, which is offered at two tiers. Sommelier Zach Byers has that envious task, which he approaches as both an opportunity and a challenge. The menu is seasonal, incorporating the freshest ingredients; dishes are rotated in and out, depending on what’s ripe and availability.
Wine pairings change often, too.
“If there’s a particular dish on the menu for a month or a month and a half, we might change the wine two or three times within that to keep it fresh and keep new things happening,” Byers said. “It might be the case where we can only get one case of something; that lasts us about a week on a pairing menu. And so I would rather pick something really special like that and play with it for a week and then find something different.”
But it’s also a challenge—after all, it’s not often that one has to pair with chicory or monkfish.
Each menu features that month’s moon: hay, fruit, crow. But that comes later—guests won’t see the menu until the end of the meal. That’s one of the joys of dining at Beckon: It’s the thrill of discovery and the sense of anticipation as each course is presented. And though each dinner is different, some elements are nods to Call next door: Aebleskiver, a savory Scandinavia doughnut bite, starts the meal; Tamara Tompkins’ (Call’s master baker) birch bread with cultured butter.
But there the familiar ends.
You might be presented with a Harukai turnip with ice plant, topped with trout roe. A fantastic play of texture, color and flavor, the accompanying turnip oil is bright green, emphasizing the orange roe that bursts in your mouth. Or maybe the all-in-one soup and salad, created from bright summer greens topping a snap pea, onion and herb soup with buttermilk ricotta. Served in a chilled bowl, it’s both simple and complex, rendering conversation almost obsolete as each element is considered and enjoyed. The meal continues, highlighting both fish (monkfish and Colorado trout) and meat (venison and lamb); there’s at least one—if not two—dessert courses to finish the meal.
As with the ingredients gathered from local farms, foragers and purveyors, every element in the dance is considered. The dishware is handcrafted pottery from Denver-based Fenway Clayworks, who once had a studio near Beckon. The flowers are from Beet & Yarrow; even the check presenters are made from reclaimed copper. The murals, which give the space a contemporary feel without rendering it museum-like, are perfect. In total, the design makes Beckon feel as if it’s someone’s home—granted, a home unlike mine, but home, nonetheless.
That’s what Beckon is creating: a sense of welcome, a sense of conviviality, a warmth that goes beyond the belly. Several times, the idea that “our home is your home” was offered. After dinner, guests are encouraged to linger on the patio, sipping on coffee or an after-dinner drink.
And just as it is after an amazing dinner with friends, parting is such sweet sorrow … until the next experience is planned.
843 Larimer St., Denver, CO 80205
Reservations go on sale the first of the month before the month on offer at 10 a.m. Reservations are $115 per person, paid in advance.
Katie Coakley is a freelance writer based in Denver covering travel, beer and outdoor adventure. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications both in print and online; you can see her work at katiecoakley.com. She now thinks that every meal should start with a savory doughnut hole topped with caviar.
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