The Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group is set to open a new Mediterranean concept to the public next Tuesday, September 4. Executive chef Austin Cueto — partner and 10-year veteran contributor at Kevin Taylor’s at Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Palate at the Denver Art Museum — is heading culinary operations at Mila. Cueto is excited to introduce a menu that reflects his background in fine dining and his passion for fresh seafood, house-made pasta, and hand-tossed pizzas.
“I’ve enjoyed growing with Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group over the last decade, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to conceive, construct and introduce this new concept in partnership with the group,” said Cuerto
Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group has been a long–time name in Denver’s fine dining community and the surfacing of a new concept always creates high expectations. 303 Magazine got a sneak preview a week before the grand opening to get a heads-up on what to expect from the city’s freshest Mediterranean venue.
Mila is located on the ground level of Denver Place on 19th and Curtis, adjacent from the Ritz Carlton building in the heart of LoDo. Interior design plays a coastal tune in an attempt to recreate beach vibes inside a landlocked retail building. A polished wood-grain bar top fit for 16 guests is inviting and well lit. Walls are backed with teal tile set in white grouting for a beachy feel. The space is illuminated by a series hanging whitewashed pendant light fixtures that lack chandelier shimmer but carry a similar sense of detailed adornment. Leather bar stools, blue suede booth seating and wicker high backs offer guests a range of options for accommodation in the dining room.
The 6,000-square-foot venue includes a polished table top suitable to accommodate a casual get together or a formal, suit-and-tie business meeting. The highlight is the 100-seat patio that is visible from the curbside. Outdoor seating is backed by floor to ceiling windows that frame the bar front from the sidewalk and also provides the restaurant with its only source of natural lighting.
“From the menu to the design, Mila will be a Mediterranean escape in the heart of downtown Denver,” said Cueto.
Mila will open with a lunch and dinner menu inspired by coastal Mediterranean cuisine, expanding on the traditional Italian and Greek fundamentals. Menu items range from family–style craft pizzas that start around $14 to sophisticated multi-element composed plates that are expected to range between $15 and $36 per dish.
Mila’s menu emphasizes a seafood and puts to use Cueto’s background in fine dining. Cueto has rendered several noteworthy compositions for the opening menu like the ahi tuna crudo that is plated with pine nuts, pickled shallot, herbed oil and a house tapenade. The seared halibut is paired with a poached pear, a puckering port wine reduction, fingerling potatoes and al dente asparagus which is a prime example of plating and attention to detail that turns food to art. Other offerings from the sea include oysters on the half-shell, calamari and shrimp escabeche fixed with Meyer lemon, fresh avocado and Tahini.
A Meridio “medium” subsection of the menu is dedicated to the vegetarian dinner. While various proteins make the menu at Mila, Cueto has given equal attention to the vegan and vegetarian compositions. Items like the Burrata plated with apple and red pepper jam and the roasted cauliflower with saffron–raisin compote and pistachio gremolata are executed with intention and take a front–and–center seat with the rest of the menu offerings.
The bar offers wines by the glass accompanied by eight beers on tap that include local microbrews and foreign imports. Cocktails riff old-school Italian favorites. Expect a mean shaken martini made with local Leopold Brothers Vodka but make the trip for the “Figroni” — a fruity counterpart to the traditional Negroni which incorporates a blend of Malfi Italian Gin, Carpano Antico, Campari and fig. The bar also offers a Denver Place Lemonade that muddles apricot, mint and a dry anise aperitif Ouzo a sort of lemon licorice mojito that is an unusual but in the same moment intriguing.
Mila opens September 4, inside of the Denver Place building located at 999 18th St., Denver. The kitchen will open for lunch and dinner service Monday – Saturday with a Happy hour available from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 5-6 p.m.Saturday. Mila will be closed on Sundays.
All Photography by Rebecca Grant.