In LoDo’s historic Saddlery building, a structure oozing with Denver’s past, The Velvet Cellar has quietly claimed its territory. This isn’t just another restaurant launch; it’s a sophisticated reboot of a space that’s seen more life chapters than a well-thumbed novel.
Breathing life into a space that once housed the Squeaky Bean and Chow Morso, The Velvet Cellar is the newest place to go in LoDo for flavorful food, artisan cocktails, wine, and celebration in the heart of LoDo. The venue opened its doors mid-December for a soft opening before celebrating the grand opening to great fanfare (and a great turnout) last Wednesday, January 24.
1500 Wynkoop St #101, Denver, CO 80202
The interior is a tasteful mash-up of the building’s original timber and brick with modern accouterments like a show-stopping wine wall and a gleaming sleek black bar. Grab a seat in the velvet banquettes along 15th Street for prime real estate for people-watching.
At the helm of this culinary escapade are childhood friends Reully Chunn and Chris Dominey. Chunn is at the helm in the kitchen, while Dominey oversees the wine program, which boasts 300–400 different labels at any given time. (Dominey is working toward his Master Sommelier designation, a title that only some 168 professionals have earned as part of the Americas chapter of Master Sommeliers since its inception, with 273 Master Somms worldwide.)
The chef’s southern roots weave through the menu—shrimp & grits, anyone?—which is a compact 10 seasonal and scratch-made dishes. During our visit last Wednesday on the grand opening night, we sat at a high-top table in the bar area, where the bar staff were our servers. We asked each person who visited the table to recommend their favorite dishes and one by one, every menu item got the nod.
On opening night, every table was served a welcome cocktail and an amuse-bouche in the form of a scotch olive—a playful take on a scotch egg that’s delightful and a must-try. They’re ricotta-stuffed Cerignola olives, dry-aged beef, Spanish pork, seasoned breadcrumbs, Calabrian honey, and smoked tomato crema. Seriously, it’s a must-order.
We started our meal with the Ahi Aguachile—ahi tuna, Aguachile, pickled Fresnos, cucumber, and red onion—which had a spicy kick that’s totally divine. We followed that course up with the Korean Lollipops—hickory smoked chicken drums coated in gochujang barbecue sauce and kimchi slaw. My friend was literally sucking on the bones once she was done, they were so good. Compliments to the chef!
We finished off our meal with the Steak Frites dish that could give The Velvet Cellar’s nearby steakhouse neighbor a run for its money. It consists of centennial cuts of beef coulotte in a whiskey barrel shoyu glaze served with Peking duck frites and duck cracklings served with sweet mirin aioli that gave me strong bearnaise sauce vibes. And I love me a good bearnaise sauce.
If all this isn’t enough to make you add The Velvet Cellar to your “must-try” list, perhaps their upcoming event calendar will: on February 6, they’re hosting a whiskey-paired dinner with the team from Woody Creek, pairing four courses with the Colorado distillery’s award-winning spirits.