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Bang Up to the Elephant! has Arrived in Capitol Hill

Discover Calypso cuisine and more at the tropical restaurant

Long-time restaurateur Kevin Delk has a knack for transporting guests to somewhere completely new. His longstanding Double Daughter’s was one of the first cocktail lounges to land in Denver. Beatrice & Woodsley with its aspen-tree lined interior and delicately draped booths brings a whimsical woodlands to South Broadway. For a much needed island getaway during these snowy times, his latest venture brings a slice of the Caribbean to Denver. Opening this Saturday, January 27, make a plan to visit Bang Up to the Elephant! {1310 Pearl Street, Denver}.

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Interior of Bang Up to the Elephant! | Photo courtesy of Ryan Dearth

Inspired by his frequent travels to the Caribbean, Bang Up to the Elephant! brings the islands to the center of Capitol Hill. Named after a Victorian-era slang term implying “complete, perfect, and properly-done,” Bang Up to the Elephant! is Delk’s fourth restaurant concept in the Denver area, one that he says is just right. “I’ve taken all that I’ve learned and turned it into one big festival,” says Delk.

Picnic tables, five skylights, and numerous living plants—846 to be exact—create a noted tropical atmosphere. Along with music from a live guitarist, bird noises chirp throughout the space sourced from Delk’s own bird watching tapes while in the Caribbean. In the morning, the restaurant entrance will function as a cafe, serving chicory coffee and doughnuts. But come nightfall, island vibes will be felt by all.

The food

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It wouldn’t be Caribbean fare without jerk chicken. The Pimento Wood Smoked Jerk Chicken dish is served atop a helpful serving of rice, peas, slaw, and grilled pineapple wedges.

To match with island-style environs, the restaurant features playfully dubbed “Calypso” style cuisine, reinterpreting cuisine favorites from Trinidad and the Caribbean. “Calypso is a type of Afro-Caribbean music found in Trinidad that uses a lot of steel drums,” explains Delk. “It sort of turned into the punk rock of Caribbean. That is what we wanted to do with our cuisine, take something and turn it into something else.”

To tackle Calypso style cuisine, Delk reeled in Chef Travis Messervey. Chef Messervey—who sharpened his skills at Luca and Mizuna as well as the kitchens of San Francisco—has had a long tenure with Delk and currently serves as Executive Chef at Beatrice & Woodsley. Always looking for a challenge, Chef Messervey’s approach to Caribbean cuisine toes the line between authentic preparations with new interpretations.

Take the Pimento Wood Smoked Jerk Chicken. Jerk chicken, a staple in any Caribbean restaurant, Messervey slow roasts his bird over wood from the allspice tree. A tree native to the Caribbean, Messervey keeps it authentic, sourcing wood from the islands specifically for this dish.

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Shark sandwiches? Try the Bake & Shark, a sandwich made with the spiny dogfish shark, trini pepper, green seasoning, slaw, and sliced tomato

Another noted Trinidadian cuisine? Shark sandwiches. In Trinidad, hundreds of vendors regularly fish and fry sharks, vying for the top sandwich on the island. But there is no need to fret about sustainability while dining here. Abiding by the Monterey Bay Aquarium standards to ensure responsible sourcing, The Bake & Shark sandwich utilizes the spiny dogfish shark, an invasive species. Fried and puffed to a crisp, this sandwich comes with trini pepper, green seasoning, slaw, and sliced tomato. Based on availability, this dish will rotate with other sustainable fish like catfish or kingfish.

Highlighting the melting pot cuisine of the Caribbean, guests can find spicy, curried channa with goat in the Mack the Knife to the Asian-style Bowl-o-Chow Mein. On the lighter side, try the Kale & Plantains with fried sweet plantains and a kick of spice thanks to the jicama and hot vinaigrette or the refreshing Grilled Pineapple Chow with cucumbers, arugula, and pickled red fresno.

The drinks

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Drinking out of a coconut is the name of the game.

What’s a tropical getaway without a few cocktails? Manned by Dylan Holcomb of Beatrice & Woodsley, guests can sip on island-inspired cocktail creations underneath the illuminated bar, which Delk designed himself. Served out of a fresh cracked coconut, try the tropical Nose Ender with reposado tequila, cream of coconut, lime, and a hint of serrano pepper. The Under & Over uses tequila infused with Andy Cap Hot Fries, a snack found in the islands, with cream of coconut, hibiscus syrup, and pineapple. The drink is rimmed with Oaxacan worm salt, which balances this sweet cocktail with a kick of heat.

Bang Up to the Elephant! will host its grand opening party this Saturday, January 27 at 5pm. The cafe will be open starting Monday, January 29th from 7am-2pm. Dinner service will begin at 5pm from 11pm.

Morgan Carter,  Managing Editor