What: farm-to-table cuisine in a comfortably rustic space, right in the heart of the Highlands neighborhood.
Where: 2413 W. 32nd Ave., Denver
When: Saturday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Ten years ago, when Stephanie Bonin and her husband Keith Arnold secured the space for their restaurant Duo, concerned friends and acquaintances put it to them bluntly: the real estate was on the wrong side of Federal. But they had made their decision and, eager to embrace their appreciation for the farm-to-table movement, the couple were moving forward with the concept no matter what anyone had to say about the location. In any event, given that Z Cuisine and Gallop Café also opened around the same time, gradually the weight behind any such cautionary advice all but dissolved. Now the restaurant is poised at the forefront of a rejuvenated Highlands neighborhood — an area that is currently home to some of Denver’s most prized restaurants.
A wall of pane-less window frames suspended from the ceiling splits the large room in two, with the bar tucked to the far right corner of the room and the left a series of tables all in view of the open kitchen at the back. In terms of how the restaurant is run in the day-t0-day, Bonin is ever mindful of handling the transition between meals on the weekends. Unwilling to relegate brunch service to second place — as if “an after-party or a hangover” — she and her staff work hard to revitalize the space from dinner to brunch. “People strongly identify with dinner here,” said Bonin, so she felt it important to encourage a corollary for the morning hours, leaning toward a “whimsical and colorful” feel. You’ll immediately recognize the bright place settings and the quote from A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” placed prominently on the menus as evidence of this theme. All of it is meant to encourage relaxation: “Brunch is habitual,” said Bonin. “It’s almost the American siesta.”
Executive Chef Tyler Skrivanek has been with Duo from the very beginning and continues to serve an integral role in the further development of the menus. Skrivanek recently wrote an array of new recipes for brunch, all of which are well-placed within the traditions of the meal and are in tune with Duo’s previous offerings. The new additions to the brunch menu as of last month include the sourdough French toast ($12), buttermilk chicken fried sandwich ($11), strata — roasted tomato, mozzarella and basil on a baguette — ($11), egg & biscuit sandwich ($9) and the buffalo brisket crock ($14).
Protein centerpiece dishes like the cider glazed pork benedict ($13) and buffalo brisket crock are well worth the brunch investment, but sweet-tooth or no, the winning entree is the sourdough French toast. The lemon chantilly cream and almond oat crumble provide excellent texture while the wild blueberry glaze and mint garnish set it apart from most other plates of French toast you’ll find anywhere else.
All photography by Kiddest Metaferia.