What: BSide serves American comfort food with a twist.
Where: 1336 E. 17th Ave Denver, CO
When: Open Daily: 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m.,
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Pros: “Topless” bottle service Mimosas and a regular, seasonally conscious menu that changes to guarantee topflight ingredients
Cons: Be prepared to see some of your favorites disappear from the menu. Rest assured the replacements will also be fresh, palatable fare—new favorites are always in the making.
The BSide evokes a not-so-distant past when record labels were pop culture’s master puppeteers. When the time came for an artist’s compositions to be pressed and released for radio play, the label chose which song would feature as the promotional single on the 45 format. The artist, however, was often left to select the cut on the backside, or B-side, of the record.
According to owner and operator, Justin Lloyd, the name is meant to emphasize the notion that the menu comprises comfort food done the BSide way. Lloyd, with development partners Ken Himel and Jonathan Bush (the team also responsible for the 2010 renovations of The Star Bar in LoDo) dropped the needle on this new venture two months ago. He is dead-set on avoiding the merry-go-round effect where otherwise great eateries get stuck doing the same thing—like a played-out collection of greatest hits—so he plans on frequently changing the menu.
One current specialty is the Biscuits N’ Gravy ($12) made from homemade dough and infused with rosemary and parmesan. Two of these biscuits, smothered in gravy, are topped with sunny side up eggs, oven-roasted tomatoes and slices of avocado. The dish is perfectly portioned and won’t leave you feeling overfull—a tough feat to pull off with any brunch dish in which biscuits play a starring role.
Then, of course, there is the Hot N’ Crispy Fried Chicken ($14) which isn’t going anywhere, and for good reason. You won’t find anything to complain about this gluten-free (thanks to the rice flour and tapioca breading) version of the lunchtime staple. A lot of restaurants brag about their chicken, but BSide backs up the hype with a pressure-fried recipe that makes for crispy skin and juicy meat. The entrée is served with Jalapeno Cornbread and a toasted ancho honey glaze, but if that isn’t quite sweet enough for you, a Chicken and Waffles plate will soon feature on the menu as well.
Lloyd believes that “all food should adhere to a principle of indulgence…but gluttony is gluttony,” he argued.
This reasoning is why the Bside serves up Topless Mimosa ($12) which comes with a bottle of champagne and a selection of rotating juices. Too often are customers tempted to go the distance and get their dollar’s worth by overdoing “bottomless” brunch cocktails—indeed, sometimes, that’s half the fun. But this way you get to make your own drink, mix different flavors and maybe exercise a little self-control for a change.
Remember, change is the driving force behind the BSide’s business model. Living by a “let’s see what happens” mantra, Lloyd wants the BSide to be adaptive and initiate the kind of dialogue often lost in today’s tech-focused interactions. Trying to capture the warmth of home-style cooking and also encourage conversation is a heavy cross to bear, but Lloyd has found a way to use the structural limitations of the BSide’s location—three old houses joined together like the eatery version of “Frankenstein’s monster”—to capitalize on its “rustic character” and has paired it with what fit: something comfortable and unassuming.
Nevertheless, Lloyd is not alone in this venture, and he credits the mutual trust that defines his partnerships with giving him access to great people and great products. “The rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.
All photography by Camille Breslin