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The Way Back Opens Softly in Berkeley

Dinner coming April 8

Chad Michael George

Owner Chad Michael George doing what he does best behind The Way Back bar

Two words: Snail Stroganoff. We just can’t stop imagining what this dish on The Way Back’s menu will taste like since we learned of its existence. This funky, yet technically capable, neighborhood spot vibe is what will set The Way Back apart when it begins food service on or around the weekend of April 8—think Rebel Restaurant meets Table 6 meets Williams & Graham.

On Monday, March 28, The Way Back opened softly for drinks only and we stopped by to chat with the owners and chefs to get the pulse on The Way Back {4132 West 38th Avenue, Denver; 720.728.8156}:

Location and space

The Way Back

Right next door to the relatively new Revelry Kitchen in Berkeley, The Way Back takes off where The Bark Bar left off, minus the dogs, plus seriously legit food. The rectangular dining room includes a long bar, high top lounge seating, and a more intimate dining space toward the back. Two garage doors will open to a forthcoming fenced-off 1,700-square-foot patio, which should be complete by the end of the week and ready for seating as soon as a nice day comes along.

The décor’s mantra? Black and tan. Black walls and tables contrast with light wood ceiling beams, bar, and chairs. RawCreative, the design-build firm The Way Back worked with, masterminded pretty much everything from construction to design.

All of the tables and the bar are made from a single white maple tree from Wheat Ridge. A flora-filled painting behind the bar adds a lush vibe to the space, while funky light fixtures come to life after the ample natural sunlight that pours in by day dims.

The Way Back team


Chef Marcus Eng (left) and Samuel Charles (right) jamming together in the kitchen

Three partners bring different skills to this concept. Chad Michael George, president of the Colorado Bartenders Guild and former bartender at Williams & Graham (as well as numerous other local spots), brings the beverage sensibility. Kade Gianinetti and Jared Schwartz bring an edgy, savvy vibe to the mix from their backgrounds as food truck entrepreneurs.

Chef team Marcus Eng—a member of the DO Chef Panel—and Samuel Charles lead the charge on the hyper-seasonal grub. Eng, who sources inspiration from his childhood travels in Southeast Asia, has cooked in the kitchens of Twelve, Acorn, and The Nickel at Hotel Teatro. Pastry Chef Paige Steiner creates housemade sweets, confections, and breads.

What’s for supper?


You’ll want to start with Essentials like the house Trail Mix with peaches, House Beef Jerky, or Trout Rillette.

For Supper, you can chart any number of paths, conservative or adventurous …

Adventurous: Chilled Mussel Salad with potato, celery, and snow peas.

Playful: Green Eggs and Ham with green chile, soubise, hominy, and cilantro.

Exotic: Beef Tartare with quail egg, ancho, and flax.

Comforting: Roasted chicken with creamed greens, potatoes, and jus.

Eastern European mama meets Italian nonna: Ravioli with ricotta, preserved lemon, and poppy.

EXTREME eating: Snail Stroganoff with snails from Oregon cooked in white wine with housemade dried shiitake pasta, fresh local shiitakes, and cream. Because it’s illegal to ship live snails across state lines (read: invasive species), The Way Back actually considered raising its own snails. Turns out, that’s kind of a challenge.

For dessert, try one of the house confections like a macaroon or get down with the Espresso Pudding with cocoa nibs and banana biscotti.

Drinking at The Way Back

The way back cocktail

It’s no surprise that Chad Michael George has compiled a lively and brilliant drink list. No doubt, The Way Back will be as much a destination for its drinks as for its food. Cocktails with descriptions that read like movie teasers. Consider “The Woodshed: Rittenhouse Rye on a picnic under an apple tree; tart and bright with baked apple and alpine herb notes.” Or try the “I’d Buy That Drink a Drink,” which serves two and comes in a copper pineapple, a symbol of hospitality. The Way Back also has a long spirit list if none of the house creations strikes your fancy.

The Way Back offers a respectable list of wines by the glass, mostly from California and Europe, with a couple outliers like a bottle from South Africa.

Beer-wise, choose from one of eight mostly local draughts (including omnipresent Ratio Brewing and New Belgium rotating picks) or head for the cans, which include an Infinite Monkey Theorem Pear Cider. The bar also stocks a selection of bottled ciders and bombers.

And if you just can’t choose between beer or liquor, try one of the “Combo Meals” like the Moose Drool (Coors Banquet and Colorado bourbon).

The Way Back will be open on weekdays from 4-11pm and on Saturdays from 4pm (or possibly even as early as 2pm) until midnight. Beginning in May, The Way Back will host a ticketed, themed supper every Sunday, such as a Crawfish Boil or Clambake.

By Maya Silver | Editor 

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