1 0 Tag Archives: Jennifer Jasinski

Rioja’s redesign is ready for its close-up

February 11, 2015

Rioja owners Beth Gruitch and Jennifer Jasinski threw a “coming out” party Monday night to show off the extensive remodel of the 10-year-old restaurant on Larimer Square.

Drinks flowed, bites were passed and local movers and shakers – including Larimer Square boss Jeff Hermanson – came to ogle the new digs.

“We’ve grown up,” Jasinski said about the sleeker, sparer and more sophisticated restaurant decor from Denver-based Boss Architecture.

James Beard award-winning chef Jasinski and business partner Gruitch reopened their flagship restaurant on Feb. 4 after a nearly-one month complete renovation.

“Our food, service and wine program have never been better,” Jasinski said. “Now, we’ve got a sexy new design to show off our skills. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Jordy Construction was assigned the task of demolishing the existing Rioja down to the raw brick and stud walls and building a brand new space, all in less than a month.

“Boss designed our newest restaurant, Stoic & Genuine at Union Station, and we love what the team did with that space,” Gruitch said. “It was an easy decision to use the Boss and Jordy combo for the Rioja remodel and they did not disappoint.”

A fully re-envisioned seating concept complete with chairs and booths covered in a sage green crushed velvet, multiple booth and banquette seating options, and a more intimate lounge area are all part of the new look.

To celebrate the robust nature of the wine program at Rioja, the wine display is the centerpiece of the new design as it moved out from the edge of the space into the center of the room.

The lighting in the space is now located primarily at the guest level to create a soft intimate atmosphere. A rich color palette reflects the history of Rioja, both the restaurant and the region for which the restaurant is named, featuring warm woods, gold and brass accents including a gold leaf style wall covering, and deep rich accent colors used on the seating and screens throughout. The distinctive brick wall that separates the two dining areas has been white-washed.

Rioja is the flagship restaurant of Crafted Concepts and is located at 1431 Larimer St. More information at www.riojadenver.com or by calling 303-820-2282. Other Crafted Concepts restaurants include Bistro Vendôme, Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen in Larimer Square, and Stoic & Genuine in Denver’s historic Union Station.

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Remodel will rock Rioja

January 21, 2015

In more restaurant remodeling news, the popular Larimer Square spot Rioja closed recently for a major makeover following its 10-year anniversary last November.

The restaurant, owned by Chef Jennifer Jasinski and business partner Beth Gruitch, is scheduled to reopen with its updated look including new furniture, wall coverings, ceiling treatments and floors on Feb. 2.

The redesign is by Boss Architects who did Stoic & Genuine; construction by Jordy Construction.

“Beth and Jen understand how difficult it is to stay relevant in the fickle restaurant world after 10 years,” said Rioja spokesman John Imbergamo. “Menu, wines and service have been constantly upgraded. A major remodel seemed appropriate in their effort to stay on top.”

For reservations, go to www.riojadenver.com or call 303-820-2282.

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NPR gives national nod to Denver’s restaurant scene

December 17, 2014

One of the nicest nods to Denver’s bustling restaurant scene came from Tuesday’s piece by National Public Radio. The reporter sought the answer to the popular question “What makes Denver so tasty?” when it comes to the dining business, which has doubled in sales over the past 10 years.

He interviewed Food Network star chef Keegan Gerhard, who rolled the proverbial dice on Denver when he opted to open D Bar, the tiny 17th Street eatery with the longest lines. Gerhard and his pastry chef wife, Lisa Bailey, quickly outgrew the original D Bar space and last month opened a spot three times larger in Uptown. The couple shunned the bright lights and big cities in favor of building a business where they wanted to live.

NPR interviewed other top chefs including Jennifer Jasinski, who with business partner Beth Gruitch, owns Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall, and most recently Stoic & Genuine in the redeveloped Union Station. Jasinski upped Denver’s restaurant cred by winning a James Beard Award and competing on “Top Chef Masters”.

Here’s what NPR said, “When you think of the restaurant scene, Denver probably doesn’t come to mind. But that’s just the latest change for a city whose population has ballooned in the last couple of years, thanks in part to a nearby oil and gas boom. Top chefs are beginning to take notice.”

John Imbergamo, perhaps the most trusted man in Denver’s restaurant business, was interviewed for the story on background. Here’s what NPR didn’t discuss, Imbergamo said. “The fast casual segment was ignored but Denver is a hotbed of innovation in that segment of the industry. Chipotle, Qdoba, Tokyo Joes, Noodles, Garbanzos, Pizzeria Locale. Smashburger, the list goes on.  Many of these with elevated quick food are consumer stepping stones to fine dining.”

To read or listen to the rest of the report, go to www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/12/16/371126181/top-chefs-discover-denvers-fast-growing-restaurant-scene?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social.

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Stoic & Genuine fish house opens today

July 9, 2014

OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation site (www.opentable.com), hosted a pre-opening VIP party at Stoic & Genuine, the Jennifer Jasinski-Beth Gruitch seafood and granita bar concept at the Union Station location Monday night.

In a previous column, I wrote about sampling S&G menu items at Jasinski-Gruitch’s original eatery Rioja on Larimer Square. The menu runs the gamut from fried whole-belly clams to caviar.

The place is tiny (62 seats inside; 40 on the patio), so getting a reservation early on may be a challenge. But going to any restaurant on opening week is risky business. Best to wait until all the kinks are worked out.

The restaurant, with the kitchen helmed by chef de cuisine Jorel Pierce, opens to the public on today serving lunch and dinner daily.

“It’s gorgeous, stunning like an executive suite in a train!” said party patron Pat “Gabby Gourmet” Miller, whose been to more restaurant pre-openings than she’d care to count. “It’s super looking, great fun and the food was divine. The open kitchen and the bars are focal points.”

The fourth restaurant from owners Jasinski, a James Beard award-winning chef and business partner Gruitch, owners of Rioja, Bistro Vendôme and Euclid Hall, Stoic & Genuine is committed to impeccably fresh, sustainable and creative seafood preparations set in the grand ambiance of Denver’s newly renovated historic Union Station. 

Gruitch, general manager Alaina Silva and bar manager Jessica Cann crafted beverages centered on a granita bar, craft and classic cocktails. estate wines and a broad champagne selection by the bottle and glass.

Designed by Denver’s Boss Architecture, an exhibition kitchen opens up to a fresh bar with an ever-changing selection of shellfish. Clean lines and basic colors provide the backdrop for finishes and architectural elements that might surprise including the colorful original art octopus mural hand painted by Denver artist Lui Ferreyra that pops off one wall and the “float wall” – a glass “sandwich” of green and blue reclaimed fishing net floats gathered from the beaches of Alaska, LED lighted from above and below.

A ceiling backdrop of classic beach sand fencing stained with a recycled combination of iron filings and vinegar sets the stage and a stained concrete floor provides a base. Lighting reminiscent of barnacles dot the ceiling above and around the raw bar. Other lights that suggest shrimp boat outriggers decorate and light various areas of the dining room. Local millwork company Fin Art Co. executed many of the interior elements including the “float wall”, a unique wine wall, the sand fencing, host stand and the raw bar and cocktail bar counter tops from solid reclaimed wood, sanded, stained and finished.

Stoic & Genuine is located at 1701 Wynkoop St. and will be open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. serving food Sunday-Thursday until 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday until 11 p.m. The bar will remain open one hour after these times. For more information, go to www.stoicandgenuine.com or call 303.640.FISH (3474).

Jennifer Jasinski, left, and Beth Gruitch (Bryan Grat photo). Below, menu items from Stoic and Genuine (Pat 'Babby Gourmet' Miller photos)

Jennifer Jasinski, left, and Beth Gruitch (Bryan Grant photo). Below, menu items from Stoic & Genuine (Pat ‘Gabby Gourmet’ Miller photos)stoiclobsterroll stoicoysters

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Jasinski swims into the fish restaurant school

June 18, 2014

Celebrated Denver chef Jennifer Jasinski is out to smash what she calls “the myth of coastal superiority” when it comes to catching fresh fish in this land-locked state. “When (restaurants) fly oysters from the West Coast to the East Coast, they fly over us and we wave at them,” she said. “The idea that we can’t get great fish (is a myth).”

Jasinski, who along with business partner Beth Gruitch, will open Stoic & Genuine, a fancy fish house, inside the renovated historic Union Station next month.

Last week, media members were invited to lunch at Rioja, another Jasinski-Gruitch restaurant, to sample menu items from the S&G menu.

If you can get past the stodgy name, you’ll find a fish and oyster place swimming in creativity and downright deliciousness.

We sampled oysters on the half-shell topped with flavored granitas, a Jasinski favorite since she cooked at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Granita in Southern California. The granita theme is carried over to the bar where several signature cocktails contain the shaved ice.

Another welcome menu item are the whole belly fried clams and non-goopy lobster roll. Jasinski’s take on Crab Louie throws out the traditional Russian or Thousand Island dressing in favor of Green Goddess.

Corn bread is served in a corn-cob-shaped cast iron tray. Other offerings include Billi Bi, a classic-mussel soup with grilled ciabatta and aioli; tuna avocado roulate – yellowfin tuna tartare, smoked jalapeno and radish; broccoli salad with toasted sunflower seeds, avocado, honey crisp apple and ponzu-sesame vinaigrette, and strawberries and cream in a jar with whipped mascarpone cream, doughnut sticks and basil.

The sample lunch left is craving for more. Jorel Pierce (of Jasinski-Gruitch-owned Euclid Hall) is S&G’s chef de cuisine, and Alaina Silva is the general manager. More information at www.stoicandgenuine.com.

(Marc Piscotty photos)

(Marc Piscotty photos)Stoic & Genuine Fish menu items and drinks Stoic & Genuine Fish menu items and drinks

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Denver ‘insiders’ tell the ‘Wall Street Journal’ their top spots

May 9, 2014

The Wall Street Journal’s weekend print edition features an “Insider’s Guide to Denver” where actress AnnaSophia Robb, MCA museum director and former star square dancer Adam Lerner, chef/restaurateur Jennifer Jasinski and retailer Mark Hansen weigh in on their favorite restaurants, shops, hotels and museums in the Mile High City.

The article, which is posted at http://on.wsj.com/RwrgWJ, asks each “insider” to name a few of their favorite things in Denver.

Robb’s picks: Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Clyfford Still Museum, Sweet Action Ice Cream, Snooze restaurants and The Grizzly Rose.

Lerner’s list: The Source collection of restaurants and specialty shops on Brighton Boulevard, the beer walk from the lower Highland across the pedestrian bridge to 16th Street and the Denver Beer Company, Colt & Gray restaurant, The Populist eatery and Fancy Tiger Clothing.

Jasinski chose: Williams & Graham speakeasy, The Bluebird Theater, JJ Chinese Dim Sum Seafood Restaurant, Garbarini and TRVE Brewing Co.

Hansen faves: Cafe Europa for breakfast, Sputnik Cocktails, Washington Park, Larimer Lounge and Devil’s Head Fire Lookout for hiking.

The WSJ added “don’t miss” recommendations: The Brown Palace Hotel, the Squeaky Bean restaurant and Tribella women’s clothing shop geared toward female triathletes.

Red Rocks Amphitheater was one of the top choices for Denver insiders in a Wall Street guide to the Mile High City.

Red Rocks Amphitheater was one of the top choices for Denver insiders in a Wall Street Journal guide to the Mile High City’s top places to see.

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Travel + Leisure cites Euclid Hall as top beer bar

April 18, 2014

Denver’s Euclid Hall has been praised for its food, mainly because of James Beard Award-nominated chef Jorel Pierce and co-owner Jennifer Jasinski, a “Top Chef Masters” finalist.

Add one of America’s best beer bars to the accolades, courtesy of Travel + Leisure magazine.

Here’s some of what T+L wrote about Euclid Hall: “Beer Bitches” Jessica Cann and Jules Bouchard‘s expert sourcing have made this brick-walled 1863 landmark building one of the best beer halls in all of Colorado — and according to Food & Wine, one of America’s best gastropubs in one of America’s best cities for foodies. Locals belly up for 12 taps, beer cocktails, and an extensive menu of bottles and cans quirkily ranked by mathematical difficulty (“Arithmetic” session beers to strong, complex bad boys under “Quantum Mechanics”). Bestsellers like Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and Avery IPA get paired with way-above-average bar bites by Jorel Pierce.

Visit  www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-beer-bars/9 for more information or go to www.EuclidHall.com to learn more about the restaurant.

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Enter to win VIP tickets to the sold-out Cochon 555

March 7, 2014

One of the biggest food events in March, Cochon 555, will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Denver at 1881 Curtis St. It’s a sold-out event, but you can enter to win two tickets courtesy of www.eaterdenver.com.

An all-star lineup of five chefs —  Paul Reilly of Beast & Bottle; Bill Greenwood of Beano’s Cabin; Justin Brunson of Old Major; Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja, Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall and Steve Redzikowski of Oak On Fourteenth in Boulder and Acorn — will compete to become Prince or Princess of Porc. The five chefs will compete by preparing a maximum of six dishes, each from one whole heritage breed pig, to win votes from the crowd.

You can win two VIP tickets to this pig-centric extravaganza.

Here’s what to do: go to the Eater Denver Facebook page, like the page, and leave a comment on this photo promoting the event. Tell Eater why you should win the tickets. A drawing will take place today (Friday).

More information at Eater Denver on Facebook, or at www.Cochon555.com.

Cochon 555

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Chef Coohill heads to Iceland to compete in the 2014 Food and Fun Festival

February 19, 2014

Tom Coohill, chef/owner of Coohills  at 1400 Wewatta St. has been invited to compete in Iceland’s Food and Fun Festival. He has accepted and will attend.

The festival takes place in Reykjavik from Feb. 26 through March 2, and includes 13 guest chefs and finest restaurants.

Coohill is paired with Rub 23, a restaurant that specializes in ingredients from Icelandic fishermen and farmers and serves a wide selection of sushi.

The other food element of the festival is the chef competition, which takes place on the last day. The chefs compete by creating three courses from Icelandic-only ingredients.

Fellow chef, Jennifer Jasinski, a “Top Chef Masters” contender and chef/owner of Rioja and other restaurants, will be serving as a judge at the festival, adding another Denver connection to the event.

Chef Coohill said he is elated about being asked to compete in the Food and Fun Festival, partly because he and his wife and business partner, Diane, have made strong bonds with the Icelandic chefs who have come to collaborate in the Coohills’ kitchen.

In the two years since Coohills opened, the restaurant has been selected to host Icelandic chefs for the national “A Taste of Iceland” event, part of a promotional campaign sponsored by Iceland Naturally.  In Denver, the Taste of Iceland dinners are culinary collaborations between Coohill and an Icelandic chef.  In 2012, Coohills welcomed Hakon Mar Orvarsson and in 2013, chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon, captain of the Icelandic Culinary Team.

“Working with both chefs Hakon and Thrainn over the past two years has been an amazing experience.” Tom said, adding, “Joining forces with other chefs in the kitchen is one of the great joys of being in this business and now, to be invited to Iceland to compete with 12 extremely talented chefs, is humbling and extremely exciting. I can’t wait to cook and create.”

Chef Coohill studied under masters of French cuisine and opened the famed Ciboulette restaurant in Atlanta in 1992. Ciboulette was praised for its modern French fare, featured in “Gourmet” and named to “Esquire Magazine’s” list of Top 25 Restaurants in the country. Chef Coohill was invited to be a guest chef at Cordon Bleu in Paris and The James Beard House in New York City.

Tom Coohill, owner and chef of Coohills, is headed to Iceland to compete in a cooking challenge.

Tom Coohill, owner and chef of Coohills, is headed to Iceland to compete in a cooking challenge.

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