The information was unhappy the day that restaurateur Bryan Dayton announced the closing of Acorn, the wood-fired restaurant that had wowed clients for seven years on the Supply earlier than calling it quits the primary week of September. However on the time, Dayton promised a fast turnaround on a brand new undertaking, and he was good on his phrase: Bellota, Spanish for “acorn,” opens this Friday, October 30, with a menu of Mexican delicacies overseen by government chef Manny Barella.
The opening workforce marks considerably of a reunion between Dayton, Steve Redzikowski and Invoice Espiricueta, with Barella as the latest member. Dayton and Redzikowski opened their first restaurant, Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, in 2011; Espiricueta, who now owns Smok Barbecue (proper subsequent door to Bellota), additionally labored there.
“Six or seven years in the past, once I was at Oak, Bryan and Steve and I talked about doing a Mexican place,” Espiricueta recollects, including that his dad’s facet of the household hails from Mexico. “I grew up in Austin, and once I was actually younger my grandfather had a fruit and vegetable stand in Brownsville. That is one thing deeply rooted in my historical past.”
Cochinita pibil, carnitas and lobster mushroom pastor tacos are just some of the choices.
And Barella’s connection to Mexico is even nearer: He was born and raised in Monterrey, and solely moved to the U.S. when he was 24. The chef attended school and regulation faculty in Mexico, and whereas at school labored varied jobs to assist himself. A type of jobs was managing a kitchen, and it was there he realized that his true calling was cooking. So he spent a while at eating places in Toluca (which he equates to Boulder, if Mexico Metropolis is Denver) earlier than transferring to the U.S., the place he started his profession in advantageous eating, studying Italian and Asian delicacies alongside the way in which.
Barella’s résumé consists of two and a half years in Napa, California, after which he moved to Colorado to pursue his dream job — at Frasca Meals and Wine. “I utilized and so they supplied me a job, however not the cash I needed,” he explains. “So I did not take it. It was like breaking apart with the most popular lady on the town.”
The chef later returned to Frasca, the place he labored for a 12 months earlier than transferring on to Uchi, the place he was working when he obtained the decision from Espiricueta to affix the Bellota workforce. The 2 started placing collectively a menu virtually instantly after Acorn closed. “We went via testing together with his recipes and my recipes, and he received about 90 p.c of the time,” Espiricueta says of Barella.
Sikil pak (left) is like pumpkin-seed hummus.
However Barella says that the collaboration has cemented his outlook on cooking — “honoring the origins of the dish” — in addition to bettering each side of the menu, and that he is realized an incredible deal from listening to Espiricueta. For instance, he factors to the shatteringly crisp coating on the chiles rellenos made with a tempura batter as an alternative of a extra normal gentle batter. The rellenos are full of an in any other case conventional mix of queso Chihuahua, epazote and onion. “I used to be very insistent on getting contemporary epazote, as a result of I can use it in plenty of totally different dishes,” the chef provides.
For the remainder of the menu, Barella attracts from varied areas of Mexico, in addition to from his personal upbringing within the northern state of Nuevo Leon. An appetizer of chips and 4 salsas features a creamy salsa verde that, surprisingly, consists of no avocado or dairy. The recipe comes from his childhood finest buddy’s mother; they ate a lot of the salsa that she ultimately taught the boys how one can make it themselves. Barella says the key is so as to add just a little oil whereas the blender is working in order that the salsa emulsifies and beneficial properties a silky texture.
The Mexico Metropolis Martini makes use of Codigo Rose Tequila as its base.
There are street-style dishes reminiscent of tortas, tacos and esquites, in addition to bigger plates like pollo en mole negro and two kinds of enchiladas. Lots of the appetizers and taco fillings are acquainted — from queso fundido to carnitas — however there are additionally a number of surprises. An appetizer referred to as sikil pak is a Yucatecan specialty of seasoned pumpkin-seed purée served with flour tortilla chips, whereas the pastor is made with lobster mushrooms as an alternative of pork. And epazote exhibits up once more in a quesadilla full of requesón (Mexican ricotta; Bellota makes it from scratch), onion, epazote and jalapeño. Barella says that is typical state fair-style meals in Mexico, however on a Denver menu it stands out as distinctive.
Dayton obtained his begin within the restaurant business as a bartender, and cocktails are nonetheless his ardour. “My love of agave spirits got here from my first bartending job at Juanita’s in Boulder,” he says, including that the fashion of the drinks menu at his new restaurant is “playful however critical.”
Bellota’s margarita is a basic — and it is on faucet.
There is a basic margarita on faucet (and a Paloma too), whereas different authentic concoctions, such because the Oaxacan Marigold and the Mexico Metropolis Martini, evoke classics, however with distinct flavors of Mexico. Frozen drinks embrace a boozy rum-chata that drinks like a liquid model of vacation cookies.
Dayton says the choice to shut Acorn was based mostly on buyer wants and the issue of sustaining a fine-dining restaurant throughout the pandemic. “On daily basis we’re making an attempt to determine what the visitor needs,” he notes. “Folks is likely to be going out as soon as every week as an alternative of 3 times every week. However we’re nonetheless aiming for what we at all times have — healthful, genuine. I by no means wish to use the phrase ‘idea.'”
Bellota will not be onerous to seek out for these acquainted with Acorn and the Supply.
For Dayton and the remainder of the Bellota workforce, Mexican meals is reassuring and acquainted, even when among the dishes and substances are new. And the menu is designed for straightforward ordering and takeout. “It is about hospitality and tradition, and never our egos,” Espiricueta provides.
Bellota opens at 3350 Brighton Boulevard (contained in the Supply) on Friday, and will probably be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday via Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Name 720-256-6991 or go to the restaurant’s website for menus, ordering and particulars.