Where: 494 East 19th Ave., Denver, CO
Pros: An expanded dining space, as well as a new coffee bar and full bar will be a welcome sight for patrons who frequented the original tiny space. Both the dessert and savory menus have been expanded. Desserts are still the star of the show, however.
Cons: It seems as if the kitchen is still working through a few small flaws–but these mistakes were confined to tiny details that didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the experience.
Pro Tips: Keep your eyes peeled for the arrival of the imported Italian case that will soon display the house made ice creams, gelatos, and sorbets (all of which will be available for purchase a la carte). Also, check out the coffee bar, which features a separate entrance off of 19th and opens at 6:30 Tuesday-Friday and 8 on weekends. Pop in to grab an espresso drink and some beautiful pastries to go.
Dessert lovers rejoice: D Bar, Denver’s preeminent spot for playful yet impeccably executed sweets, has finally reopened for business. The doors of the original location were shuttered last March, and owners Keegan Gerhard and Lisa Bailey planned to reopen a bigger, better rendition of D Bar just a mile away from the original in Uptown. Though D Bar was supposed to open in August, the new location didn’t end up opening for business until late November.
A recent visit confirmed that the anticipation of the new space has been well worth the wait. D Bar’s concept hasn’t changed, but it is certainly bigger and better than ever. While D Bar had always been famous for incredible desserts, it was also infamous for being hard to get into. A long line typically graced the sidewalk outside the formerly tiny location. Those who waited in those long lines (or simply went elsewhere for their sugar fix) will be delighted to see that the new space features a significantly larger dining room, as well as other new features.
Gerhard explained that the larger space allows D Bar to do some exciting and different things. One of the most notable is the coffee bar, which features a separate entrance off of 19th, and opens early in the morning for espresso drinks, pastries and some packaged items. The new D Bar also features a full bar, meaning that cocktails and libations will be flowing, something that wasn’t possible in the old space. As for the dining room itself, the light blue and brown color palette lives on, yet there is far more seating room, much of it with great views of the open kitchen and dessert bar. Careful design gives the dining area a bevy of private nooks and crannies, so that diners can still experience the same tucked away “jewel box” effect of the original space. The kitchen itself is bigger, too, which means that D Bar has the freedom to offer an expanded menu of both desserts as well as savory options.
While you may have thought that the “D” in D bar stood for desserts, it also encompasses “dining” and “drinks.” And the dining is something you won’t want to miss, with a menu full of elevated comfort food classics. The food is accessible, with staples like paninis, sandwiches, sliders, and fresh seasonal salads all dressed up for the adult palate. Take the crispy Brussels sprouts, a food most of us hated growing up. Gerhard wanted to make them downright irresistible when he put them on the menu. The combination of flash-fried Brussels sprouts, deeply toasted hazelnuts, fresh Brussels leaves, and a honey-sriracha sauce would have been transcendent—if there had been about an eighth as much honey sauce on the plate as there was. That didn’t stop me from going back in for bite after bite, but the dish did end up on the sweet side of the spectrum.
One of the menu staples that D Bar kept around is the famous bacon mac and cheese, which can (and should) be topped with tempura lobster, and always comes blanketed with a thick, crispy layer of Cheez-It crumbs. This is mac and cheese at its finest—a rich, silky cheese sauce and al dente pasta come together for ideal comfort food. Portion sizes here are generous, luckily, because you’ll want the entire bowl of mac and cheese for yourself. Another notable D Bar staple diners will recognize is the Southern fried Belgian. The Southern fried Belgian offers a new take on chicken and waffles as a sandwich. A fluffy maple bacon waffle encases a buttermilk fried chicken breast, tomato slice, and lettuce leaf, making for a satisfying lunch choice, had the chicken not been under seasoned. Gerhard told me that many of the savory staples have stuck around, though they may be modified with flavor changes or seasonal tweaks based on ingredients available.
As for the cocktails, the new beverage menu focuses on simple creations. Adrienne Chavez, the beverage director, designed to the cocktails to “taste good with food, as well as desserts.” My favorite was the tail chaser, a season-appropriate concoction of local Dancing Pines bourbon, all spice dram, honey and lemon. Overall, the drinks are refreshingly simple, pared-down, and approachable—designed for those who aren’t interested in the dizzying-complicated, ten-ingredient cocktails that are fashionable nowadays. “We’re not going for flashy,” Chavez said. “Keegan is all about bringing in the best of what we can bring. If we can do it better, we do, but if someone else is already doing it best, we have no qualms with bringing it in.”
While I did enjoy the savory offerings and the drinks, the desserts are still what D bar does best. With two pastry chefs running the restaurant, desserts are featured prominently, and they shine in the spotlight. Longtime D Bar fans will recognize some of the favorites: the cake n’ shake, milk n’ cookies, crème brûlèe, and molten cake thingy are all here to stay. Gerhard and his team keep them fresh by rotating the surrounding components on the plate, changing them frequently with the seasons. The current rendition of the molten chocolate cake is indeed a chocolate-lover’s delight: the moist cake filled with a melty dark chocolate truffle, gorgeously plated alongside a cocoa nib dentelle, raspberry compote, and Sicilian pistachio ice cream. D Bar always has some form of a donut on the menu, as well. Currently, it’s the ch-ch-ch-churro, served hot and fresh with dark chocolate dipping sauce and a oven-roasted white chocolate ice cream. The caramelized milk notes in the roasted white chocolate ice cream echoed the flavor of a dulce de leche, with the silkiness of the cocoa butter making for a unique indulgence.
My favorite dessert of the day, however, was Breezy’s gone bananas: a disc of banana caked flanked by a lush chocolate mousse, caramelized bananas, chocolate passion ganache, crunchy chocolate crumbs, and a lively tropical banana passion fruit sorbet. Desserts like this are what make D Bar worth a stop for sweets alone.
Overall, the new D Bar has high aspirations, as well as the facilities and vision to match. While the kitchen is still in the process of perfecting all the details, the desserts are always sure to please. As time goes on, D Bar is sure to get better and better, and the expanded space means that more people will get to enjoy it.
All photography by Kiddest Metaferia