Beatrice & Woodsley, Executive Chef Eric Hiob
38 South Broadway, Denver, CO 80209
Why you should go: playfully puzzling bathroom inside a fascinating physical space, all of which is easily trumped by some of the best brunch fare we’ve ever tasted
We’re going to come out and say it: the brunch date is far superior to the dinner date. When you’re worn out by a day, reaching for that second wind so you can adjust your hair and freshen your makeup, a dinner date can be exhausting. Part of you wishes you could just change into pajamas instead of earrings and heels. The brunch date, on the other hand, catches you at your best, freshly awake from a good night’s sleep and ready to harness the energy of the sun. When you’re a parent, the brunch date likely indicates that you’ve spent an infrequent night without child. And when you’re not, brunch suggests that you’ve enjoyed a lovely evening-into-morning together, while the dinner date is often racked with the tense anticipation of what might or might not occur. Finally, if you can safely have a drink in the morning, a significant highlight of the brunch date, you know it’s going to be a good day.
Jenn: Of course, a restaurant inspired by a D.H. Lawrence poem with a concept that revolves around a love story is an obvious choice for a romantic brunch. Paired with an Overflow amuse-bouche from Pink House, it hearkens back to our BDD (before daughter days), when our ardor could be crystallized in the weekend wake-and-bake walk to a delicious destination…
Chad: I agree: I don’t think there is a more passionate meal than brunch. It’s the thing you eat when you couldn’t get out of bed in time for breakfast but know that you simply will not survive until lunch. Brunch is escape. An amorous flight of passion toward the space – intimate, private, non-normative – that can only be created by the unique appetites of those truly in love. You feel that retreat, that specialness, as soon as you cross the Beatrice & Woodsley threshold. You know you have come to a place as rare and rarefied as your affection. Thoughts?
Jenn: This place is clearly going for an experience, with food at the center. You’re transported, when you enter, into a story, to a remote cabin in the woods, surrounded by bare aspens, adorned with gauzy curtains and suspended lanterns. The wood plank overhangs envelope each table, enclosing you in a rustic yet luxurious capsule of loungeable seating that feels far removed from everyone else in the restaurant. The bar, fabricated from repurposed fireplaces and wine bottles, adds to the coziness and whimsy. The cohesive design is overlaid with an antique sensibility, of vintage objects infused with precious meaning, and no detail of the décor was overlooked. Even the restrooms are noteworthy, set into the back wall of the restaurant, with their old-fashioned, pulley activated rain chain sink mechanism and powdered borax soap. Actually, it’s quite possibly the most remarkable restroom I’ve ever used.
Chad: And yet, somehow, no part of the interior is more remarkable than what’s on the menu. The cocktails range from the how-did-they-come-up-with-that-idea-unique Apollo’s Creed (pear and apple vodkas, ginger liqueur, honey-chamomile syrup, lemon juice, and Greek yogurt) to the refined-twist-on-an-old-classic fresh squeezed Blood Orange Mimosa. As for the food: the care that went into designing and constructing Beatrice & Woodsely is reflected not just in Chef Eric Hiob’s dishes, but in every single ingredient of each individual plate. It was bitterly cold on the day we went, and the menu was in the process of transitioning into winter, yet somehow the Watermelon and Beet Salad looked impressively bold, a declaration of love in yellow and red glowing vibrant, and tasted the same. It could have been gathered that morning from a fresh garden grown just for us.
The entrées were no different. Steak N’Eggs, warmly covered in an herbed hollandaise sauce, carried the red and yellow palette from the first course to the second, and brought together the subtle (caramelized onion omelet) and the robust (hangar steak) perfectly. While enchanting, it was still not my favorite dish of the brunch.
In my life I have been blessed with the capacity to love things deeply and to pursue those devotions to ends out of the reach of those less adoring. I have sampled the biscuits and gravy offered up from Southern greasy spoons to chain diners along Route 40, from mother’s kitchens to the breakfast boutiques of Northern Vermont, and when I die, hopefully next to you in bed, thinking of all the love and food we shared together, one of the things I will remember will be these Biscuits and Gravy. How about you?
Jenn: Where to start? I could write a sonnet to the beets, but since you already covered that, I’ll mention the Monkey Brains, B & W’s take on the doughy, sticky, nut-encrusted breakfast favorite that some call monkey bread, and melt-in-your-mouth delicate Crawfish Beignets. Both satisfied that calling for brunchtime comfort food and served as a rich complement to the clean flavors of the salad. For my entrée, I chose the hearty Buttermilk and Amaranth Pancakes. Sold on the dish when my waiter described their earthy flavor and crunchy, whole grain texture, I was not disappointed. I also loved that they offer a morning restorative (B & W for “soup”) and that they have extensive vegan and gluten free menus as well. Service was topnotch, attentive without being overbearing, and the staff was well versed in both the menu items and the Beatrice & Woodsley mythology. It was really a complete experience, don’t you think?
Chad: “A complete experience” is exactly how I would describe our brunch. Complete in the sense that every element felt like it had been prepared especially for us, and complete in how well fed I was when I left. The full realization of a visionary concept, Beatrice & Woodsley transforms brunch from a meal to an all-encompassing event, one that feels both exquisitely arranged and full of boisterous affirmation. It’s easy to get swept up in Beatrice & Woodsley’s atmospheric fiction; the décor-as-prologue perfectly prepares you for what is clearly at the heart of this tale, food made with the courage and confidence of a madman in love.
Jenn: And, certainly, that’s part of the appeal for people like us. There’s a unified concept that we can relate to, because we like to dive into these kinds of experiences; we like to imagine and play and partake. My advice if you’re heading here for the first time: approach it like you would your favorite novel, and participate in the story, willingly suspend your disbelief. When you step through those doors, you’re not in the city anymore; let yourself be carried away, and you will be richly rewarded.