(Pictured above: Castle Marne’s romantic formal dining room)
by Jeanne Brei
Founded by gold miners in 1858, Denver’s historical side includes dining. One of the most popular restaurants for time travelers is The Buckhorn Exchange. Opened in 1893 by “Shorty” Zeitz, and designated as a historic landmark, its walls are adorned with more than 500 stuffed game animals from all over the world. Glass enclosures are everywhere containing a large collection of antique pistols and rifles. Near downtown, Denver’s original steakhouse, with the first liquor license issued in the state, offers wild game dishes—platters containing buffalo, elk, quail, duck, alligator, Cornish game hen and rattlesnake—as well as steak, ribs, sandwiches, sausage and the infamous Rocky Mountain oysters (bull testicles). Dishes are deliciously prepared as they were back in 1893 and five U.S. Presidents have dined at the landmark including Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
Or you could eat indoors with an outdoor theme at Beatrice & Woodsley. Created by artist and retauranteur Kevin Delk, Beatrice & Woodsley was completed in 2008. His vision of a remote rustic cabin design with a small aspen grove inside set aglow by lantern light is a romantic tribute to two lovers from the 1800s. The atmosphere is very private and cozy with faux aspen trees seemingly growing from floor to ceiling.
Or you could dine in a giant teepee! Forest Room 5 in the LoHi area was designed to be a family friendly place where you can sit on a tree trunk stool and enjoy the woodsy atmosphere. The surreal indoor/outdoor eatery has a serene brook beneath a tree house and features outdoor fire pits as well as large teepees guests can dine in. Guests can even make their own s’mores and breakfast is served all day.
Another only-in-Denver experience includes restaurateur Justin Cucci’s macabre Linger and sexy Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Linger‘s décor embraces the restaurant’s past as the old mortuary Olinger (that once held the remains of Buffalo Bill), with a former church pew as the host table, coffin-shaped menus, vintage photographs, funeral fans and drinks served out of formaldehyde bottles. Known for its rooftop lounge and tapas, the “Olinger Mortuaries” sign by day changes to “Linger Eatuaries” at night when it lights up.
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is located in an 1894-era Victorian brownstone on the National Register of Historic Places, that was once a brothel, turned peep show, turned adult video library. Ophelia’s is now a restaurant, bar and live music venue, with a boudoir-style décor that honors the building’s past, and Ophelia, the muse. The sunken stage embodies a swanky Moroccan speakeasy feel as the multi-level “gastro-brothel” has stellar cocktails, bands, an outdoor patio, throwback peep shows and great brunches and dinners, featuring local, sustainably-sourced and organic products.
Finally, one of Denver’s most romantic meals is at the historic and romantic inn and B&B, Castle Marne. It’s an exclusive meal for two served in Castle Marne’s evocative formal dining room (pictured above). The four-course candlelight dinner is prepared by one of Denver’s top personal chefs, custom tailored to a couple’s preferences and includes soup, salad, entree and dessert with a focus on local, fresh ingredients. Couples are welcome to bring their own beverages and there’s no corkage fee.
The Buckhorn Exchange, 1000 Osage St., Denver 80204; (303) 534-9505; buckhorn.com
Beatrice and Woodsley, 38 S. Broadway St., Denver 80209; (303) 777-3505; beatriceandwoodsley.com
Forest Room 5, 2532 15th St., Denver 80211; (303) 433-7001; forestroom5.com
Linger Eatuary, 2030 W 30th Ave., Denver 80211; (303) 993-3120; lingerdenver.com
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, 1215 20th St., Denver 80202; (303) 993-8023; opheliasdenver.com
Castle Marne, 1572 Race St., Denver 80206; (303) 331-0621; castlemarne.com/candlelight-dinners/
This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of Exhibit City News, p. 82. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_septoct_2019_web