No ocean? No worries! That's the tag line for Stoic & Genuine, one of the newest eateries in Denver, which sits about as far from the ocean as is possible in the United States. But luckily, fresh seafood is flown in daily to satisfy Denver's food-savvy residents and showcased brilliantly by the chefs and menu at Stoic & Genuine.
Just outside the restaurant's doors, Amtrak trains roll through and passengers come and go, mingling with LoDo locals and guests of the just opened Crawford Hotel. The city skyline and sharp peaks of the Rocky Mountains are visible through the station's massive arched windows, an emphatic reminder that this is Colorado.
Contemporary with a seaside aesthetic, Stoic & Genuine seats 62 inside and 40 on the patio — Photo courtesy of June Cochran / Stoic & Genuine
But inside it's all about the sea. Part of the lofty ceiling is hung with reclaimed beach fence, slats reminiscent of New England lobster traps. A palette of blues, greens and neutrals evoke sand and sea, and a striking octopus mural along one wall the length of the narrow restaurant provides a whimsical under-the-sea touch.
The open kitchen adds a bustling vibe, all the better to watch oyster shucking or peruse the day’s catch glistening on ice. Oysters come from both coasts, with two varieties grown only for Stoic & Genuine. A refined crudo menu includes such delicately flavored items as California urchin with red and green grapes, strawberry, shiso and evoo.
Among the most talked about features is the granitas bar, where hand-scraped ice is infused with an ever-changing selection of exotic flavors – some to accompany seafood, while others, such as strawberry-basil, are transformed into inventive cocktails.
Raw oysters presented with a boldly hued granita — Photo courtesy of Marc Piscotty / Stoic & Genuine
Somehow, the compact menu manages to be both healthful and decadent. On the light side are a delicious sugar snap slaw and a broccoli salad with avocado, apple, sunflower seeds and a yuzu-sesame dressing. The antithesis of light is the feast-on-a-bun Hangtown Fry Burger (Cardiologists, close your eyes) that's topped with bacon-wrapped fried oysters, fried egg, lettuce and tomato.
Alaskan king crab legs come in half-pound and full-pound servings, while the classic Maine lobster roll is a tasty but diminutive version of its traditional New England self. Nothing says New England like fried clams, and though these are surf clams without the delicious bellies popular along the Atlantic, they will satisfy East Coast visitors yearning for a taste of home.
Fried surf clams accompanied by aioli. Add sugar snap slaw and a Colorado craft beer for meal perfection — Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis
Of course, there’s always the option of going light and decadent in an entirely different way by feasting on caviar and champagne, both staples of the menu. Colorado craft beers and a nicely curated selection of wines, along with port and sake, offer more options.
As for the name, it's a tribute to Chef Jen Jasinski's husband (stoic) and the restaurant's Chef de Cuisine Jorel Pierce (genuine).
Stoic & Genuine is the perfect reason to spend an afternoon or evening in Denver’s lively LoDo neighborhood. You can check out the artfully preserved history and striking architecture of Union Station, mosey into shops or stroll along the streets before or after dining at this welcomed addition from two of Denver’s brightest culinary stars.
Every dish should be accompanied by the cast-iron skillet cornbread, with hints of sweet and a touch of salt — Photo courtesy of Marc Piscotty / Stoic & Genuine