The former chef behind Root Down, Linger and Ophelia’s is bringing an Israeli restaurant to LoHi and our mouths are already watering. Opening in what was formerly Bremen’s Wine & Tap — Ash’ Kara will serve food from across the Middle East such as fresh pita, lavash breads, homemade hummus and baba ghanoush. Most recently Daniel Asher went north with his own restaurant in Boulder (Rivers and Woods) along with spearheading the kitchen at Stem Cider’s Acreage in Lafayette. Now he’s returning to the Mile High and he’s bringing a piece of his childhood with him.
“I was born in Montreal, Canada. It’s just beautiful melting pot of Middle Eastern culture,” explained Asher. “These are flavors that I was enjoying when I was six, seven years old. Eating pomegranate syrup and turnips and roasted eggplant and wood-fired flatbreads, chicken Shawarma, and spit-roasted lamb.”
In addition to his time in Montreal, Asher grew up visiting his family in Tel Aviv, and in Western Galilee on their community farm (kibbutz.)–
“I spent time out there and cooked in the kitchen three meals a day. That part of Israel is just magical. It has incredible tropical fruits and dairy products. I’m just, it’s just an amazing growing region. It’s a very fertile part of Israel and being able to spend time up there and work in the field harvesting bananas, avocados and citrus was pretty remarkable. There’s a tremendous amount of conflicts in that area but there’s also a tremendous potential for peace. And the dynamic energy of all these cultures coming together creates an amazing culinary expression and it’s electric. It’s electric, it’s vibrant and it’s passionate.”
This is Asher’s first solo Denver restaurant and he will partner with a long list of iconic local names including the partners of Culinary Creative Group — behind concepts such as Señor Bear and Bar Dough. The menu will focus on modern Israeli cuisine with flavors from across the Middle East, and while he draws his inspiration from places across the globe, Asher plans to utilize local ingredients in the creation of his Ash’ Kara’s food.
“My mission is as a chef is to communicate that the true heroes of our food system are the American family farmer’s, the ranchers and all our wonderful artists that make up the bustling Colorado community. So through the lens of Middle Eastern cuisine, I want to keep pushing the needle forward on sustainability, supporting local agriculture, animal husbandry, regenerative agriculture, holistic way of management. These are all things that are deeply important to me. I’m going to be using Colorado chicken, lamb and pork and Colorado-grown ingredients wherever I can. And there’s a way of doing Middle Eastern Cuisine using Colorado ingredients.”
In addition to bringing the Middle East to Denver through food Asher and his team plan to bring the Middle East to Denver in their design. They’re aiming to “create an experience most restaurant spaces in the area don’t have,” as Asher explained, and really “show the electricity of Middle Eastern culture in the design.
Asher won’t be the only one bringing Israeli food to the Mile High this year. The highly anticipated Safta from James Beard Award-winning, Alon Shaya, is said to open sometime this year. But considering the lack of high-end Middle Eastern food in the city, both will be a welcomed addition.
Ash’ Kara will open in the former Breman’s Wine & Tap in LoHi (2005 West 33rd Avenue, Denver). And while the team has not released a specific opening date, Asher says “it’s safe to say they’ll open in October.” For more information regarding Ash’Kara stay tuned with us, here.