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Departure Opens in Cherry Creek

The aviation inspired restaurant opens today in the Halycon Hotel

Departure Restaurant

Departure Restaurant

Departure Restaurant {249 Columbine Street, Denver; 720.772.5020} the swanky, lounge-styled restaurant opens today, introducing pan-Asian fare to the Cherry Creek area. The aviation-inspired restaurant, crafted by Skylab Architecture, encompasses the feeling of an old school hangar, with a large airplane installment hovering over the buzzing bar. Sepia-toned photos adorn the walls, with two large abstract murals of an airplane tarmac running the length of the restaurant.



Artwork at Departure

Keeping with the aviation theme, the hangar inspired cocktails crafted by the Director of Beverage Brandon Wise. Wise drew inspiration not only from the flavors of Asia, but from the professionalism of the bartenders he met while visiting the continent. Throughout his travels, he was drawn to the technique and knowledge of staff, from taking precise measurements to effortless execution. Flying the concept to Denver, Wise found no issue recruiting top-notch bar staffrecruiting bartenders from St. Ellie’s and Bar Faustogiving him the luxury of exploring a cocktail menu that can be enjoyed on any occasion.


Coral Cityscape


The Coral Cityscape, is a bubbly, light cocktail crafted with American small batch gin with hints of grapefruit, lime, a splash of melon liqueur and an earthy element of Fever Tree tonic, finished with blue curaçao. If the bright color isn’t enough to catch your eye, the sugar-rimmed flute is sure to garner a second look.



A perfect late-night cocktail that hits the spot is the Shinobi, made with Knob Creek Bourbon, Leopold fernet, L’Afrique vermouth, ginger syrup, lime, and ginger beer, garnished with berries and mint.

Gregory Gourdet

Photo credit: The Eater

Chef and Food

Overseeing both kitchens, Gregory Gourdet was initially tapped as chef de cuisine at the Portland location and has worked his way up to culinary director of the entire Departure concept. Although Gourdet has taken on his own challengessuch as competing in “Top Chef” last year and finishing as a finalistthe trials of opening his own restaurant was a feat in itself. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he admits. “It’s very intensive and I’ve taken on a lot of things I’ve never had to consider. I’ve worked closely with the team to develop a brand, to make it even better, and introduce something new to this part of town to spice things up.”

After touring Asia earlier this year to research the cuisine and culinary techniques of the region, Gourdet composed an authentic Asian menu for Departure—with a few personal touches, of course. “My time in Asia inspired me to create a menu that pays homage to the people, cultures, and cooking styles I encountered throughout my time overseas,” he says. “Much like we have done in Portland, the goal for Departure Denver is to offer a diverse range of Asian dishes and flavors in a way that is authentic and credible, yet slightly unexpected.”


Departure Wings

The full-service menu features a wide range of masterfully rolled sushiwith a commitment to serving sustainable seafoodto expertly crafted Bibimbap made with koshihikari (rice), Wagyu beef, egg, kimchee, and gochujang sauce. With a focus on shareable plates, Departure serves up delightful dishes such as the Departure Wings, great for sharing (but you won’t want to), cooked in a sweet chile glaze.


Roasted Beet

On the green and raw side of the menu, guests can opt for the Roasted Beet medley made with nam prik pao (pureed chiles), roasted ginger beets, and Thai basil topped with puffed rice.


Kurobuta Pork

Kushiyaki (skewered meat or vegetables) has its own section on the menu, centered around the Japanese grill. The Korubuta Pork, made with pork shoulder, is grilled to perfection painted with a glaze made with gochujang, sesame, sugar, and soy sauce.

Departure strikes a soothing balance between classic dining and approachable fare. In the coming months, they plan to open their rooftop concept, which will include its own bar and a smattering of small plates. For now, enjoy the tastes of Asia as you take flight at the newly minted Departure.

Departure Denver is open Monday through Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday 11am-11pm serving lunch and dinner; and Saturday and Sunday 10am-11pm with weekend brunch offered 10am-2pm.

By Morgan Carter | Editor