Denver’s fiery fine-dining spot
The flame aspect at Fire, the restaurant located inside The Art, a Hotel, can be experienced in three ways. The first is obvious: a roaring fire pit on the terrace is actually an art piece titled Internal Flame by Bill Butler. The second comes in the form of artist Larry Bell's Light Knots, a Mylar, metal and quartz sculpture inside the main dining room that shimmers like flames, especially at night. And the third manifests in the kitchen with the help of executive chef Chris Jakubiec's modern American dishes.
Much of Fire revolves around commissioned and curated artwork, just like the boutique hotel in which it’s housed.
The menu Jakubiec has come up with proves fun and approachable, meaning just about anyone can find something on it that they want to eat. Only, instead of getting run-of-the-mill American food, the chef adds more finesse and high-quality ingredients and local flair to each plate.
For example, the croque-monsieur at lunch sings with bubbling Swiss Gruyère and applewood-smoked ham pressed between griddled slices of sourdough; and Colorado lamb sliders with red pepper relish make one salivate with each bite.
Dinner brings to the table dishes like Boulder-raised chicken with mushroom risotto, grilled octopus and Rocky Mountain trout with brown butter sauce. You will also find truffle-laced macaroni and cheese, Fire’s signature burger with bacon and aged cheddar, a lemon-tinged beet and ricotta salad, and duck rillettes (also available at lunch).
The fine-dining restaurant also serves breakfast and a stellar weekend brunch (think buttermilk malted pancakes and steel-cut oatmeal with dried cherries, almonds and wildflower honey). Each meal can be delivered to your room if you happen to be a guest of the hotel.
Cap off a meal with art-inspired desserts, such as a melting sphere filled with chocolate and orange mousse or festive mini cupcakes in flavors like lemon-blueberry, banana-Nutella and turtle. Cocktails, too, can end an evening well, and the Jackson Pollock with rosemary-infused gin, muddled strawberry, basil and a balsamic reduction speaks well to the setting. The lounge is also a good place to try an array of Colorado spirits, as it offers a three-part whiskey tasting.
One glance at this airy space and you might not believe it seats 160 people. Plenty of room allows each table to feel intimate, and you have the choice between parking at one of the plush booths or taking in the street scene at one of the stand alone tables lining the windows.
Halo lights dangle delicately over the main dining room, though in the day you only need the natural light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows to illuminate your carrot curry soup and glass of chilled rosé. The view overlooks Broadway and 12th Avenue, and you can see both from your table or by grabbing a pint of local craft beer on the grand terrace.
And, oh, is that terrace worth a visit. Fire sits on the fourth floor of the hotel so the views of the city are up close — you won’t feel as if you’re hovering from far above. Aside from the main flaming attraction, a few smaller fire pits are surrounded by comfortable seating from which you can take in those stunning vistas.
The adjacent lounge serves innovative takes on classic cocktails and also boasts floor-to-ceiling windows for a singular vantage point.
For starters, on the way to your table you can view John Baldessari's Eight Soups, a series of colorful paintings that pay homage to Andy Warhol's famous Pop art image of a can. Next, you can see Bell's glittering installation, which sits in the heart of the restaurant working as a divider between the dining room and the lounge, as if it's one of those grand fireplaces that normally fill a similar space.
Other works of art at Fire are found inside the private dining rooms. Each of the two spaces are named after the works featured, and in this case that includes the Bear Room, displaying Sean Landers' plaid bear paintings, and Bottoms Up, the name of both the space and the 2013 sculpture by Joel Otterson.