Stowaway Kitchen in RiNo has been popular for breakfast, lunch and great coffee drinks for almost three years. The food isn’t what you would normally find in a cafe setting — thick toasts laden with beet hummus, fresh vegetables and poached eggs, creative sandwiches, an extensive coffee and espresso list and a beautiful bright interior.
But what sets them apart even further is how unique their dishes are. It’s not just normal breakfast toast but house baked apricot and prune toast. Not to mention, the ingredients are all coming from local and trusted farms and fisheries. The dedication to working with local produce, the unique flavors and the quirky interior are what keep people coming back. For the past couple of months, the crew has begun a new venture called Supper Club — dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and we’ll tell you why you need to check it out.
Less than a year ago, owners Amy Cohen and Hayden Barnie along with chef Johnny Naffah who has been at Stowaway since it opened, sat down to discuss adding something different to the restaurant. Naffah, burnt out on just slinging daytime food, wanted to be able to do something where he could experiment and change the menu frequently. Therefore, the crew came up with a three day a week ‘Supper Club.’ This is a well thought out experience from the aromatic cocktails to the soulful music to the ‘out of this world’ flavors. It makes you feel like you’re at a dinner party at your coolest friend’s house.
The Supper Club has been running since March, and it’s different than anything else you will find in the city. Naffah crafted the menu using both Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean influences — his father being from that part of the world.
“We’ve always had some Middle Eastern flair on our daytime menu but haven’t noticed very much of that cuisine in Denver otherwise,” said Cohen. “It may not be familiar comfort food for many in this city, but I feel like people here are hungry for new flavors and ideas. We’re very excited to be able to bring something new to the table and add to the expanding repertoire of this burgeoning city.”
The team works with Berry Patch Farms to get a lot of the produce, and bases the dishes around what’s seasonal and what the farm says is good at the time. The menu contains a series of small plates, big plates and of course — drinks.
Drinks include a small curated list of wines, beers and three featured $10 cocktails crafted by Barnie.
We tried the Isfahan Rose – a mixture of gin, egg white, orgeat, lemon juice and rosemary. It is a frothy, aromatic, all around sensory experience. The smell of the big sprig of fresh rosemary — as you sip this gorgeous drink — is such a nice touch.
If you’re a whiskey drinker, the Old Country made with bourbon, Curacao, allspice dram and vanilla orange simple is for you. The Levant Anise is made with a liquor that you don’t see all too commonly called Arak (Eastern Mediterranean, high-proof, licorice-flavored spirit) along with velvet falernum and lemon juice. Dessert drinks include coffee by Boxcar Roasters and a list of two-ounce Amaro (an Italian bitter herbal liqueur) drinks.
Starting with the small dishes, the choice ranges between six plates that range from $7 to $12. These dishes may be ‘smalls,’ but we agree that they deserve a bigger sized name than that. The selection is an array of fresh and local — a trip to the Mediterranean on your tongue. We tried three out of the six plates.
The house ricotta + zucchini ($9) is Stowaway’s house-made ricotta served with sliced thin veggies — marinated zucchini and Padrone peppers (from the Berry Patch) and summer squash. The ricotta has a lite texture and is surrounded by shallot olive oil and dusted with sumac (a middle-eastern spice similar to lemon or vinegar). For dipping, house-made flatbread covered in fresh parsley, oregano and herbs, which Katelyn Keck, the sous chef, makes daily. In addition, a small side of diced pickles marinated in Arak, gave a sweet note to the dish.
The honey, honeydew + feta salad ($10) is a minty, lemon purée of fresh English peas topped with honeydew melon balls and Bulgarian feta. It is dusted with dukkah, an Egyptian spice of almond, sesame seeds and spices. Lastly, some Turkish pistachios and a little bit of green onion, honeycomb and honey ginger sauce top it off. It’s a cool, sweet dish that’s perfect for a mid-meal course to refresh your palate for the main course.
The falafel board ($12) which Keck calls her favorite dish is house-made Egyptian falafel with a little bit of baba ganoush on the bottom. In addition, fresh garden vegetables like zucchini, carrot, and radish — drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice pair perfectly with the falafel. A little side of Arak cured pickles and dill yogurt for dipping completed the dish. The Egyptian falafel is a mix of soaked garbanzos, with favas as the base, roasted garlic, leeks, minced onion and spices. It has a harder texture, not your normal falafel, but just as delicious — if not more.
On to the big plates — the menu offers four entrees and there is something for everyone. Although some dishes will stay the same week to week, you can expect changes frequently. Currently, the selection includes chicken, shrimp, a vegetarian dish and lamb.
First off, the chicken shawarma ($13) is marinated chicken with herb-infused yogurt sauce, Arak pickles, tomato, smoked fried potato and house-made flatbread. Second, the shrimp tagine ($14) is a Morrocan dish with red pepper couscous, fresh garbanzo, sorrel yogurt, crispy fennel, spring onion and fresh oregano. Third, the saffron braised garbanzos ($14) with grilled zucchini, couscous, Bulgarian feta, fresh mint and sorrel.
We tried the divine lamb kofta ($15) a spice ground lamb with Romanos and yellow beans from the Berry Patch with a shallot confit, olive oil and a mint aioli topping it. A bed of beet hummus cradles the lamb and the plate is drizzled with pomegranate honey molasses. Lastly, a dusting of sumac and a heap of house-made flatbread finish the plate. The texture is perfect and everything complements each other.
If you’re still hungry, dessert offerings change weekly, but you can expect to see items like house-made ice cream ($6) and baklava ($9).
Stowaway Kitchen’s crew is a dream team and the Supper Club really brings out their shine. As we’ve seen during the daytime, the food and environment of Stowaway have made it a place to seek out in Denver. But, dinner at Stowaway has brought out new talent, capabilities and flavors.
Barnie manages and makes drinks. Cohen, the wife of Barnie and co-owner, manages during the day but she is definitely a part of the vision of Supper Club. To learn more about their story, read our previous article. Long story short — they’ve been all over the world and know a thing or two about coffee and food and we’re lucky to have the pair in Denver.
Naffah and Keck run the kitchen like a delicate, well-oiled machine. Naffah is a Colorado native, and before joining Stowaway, worked for Mercantile Dining & Provisions. His culinary training, heritage and dedication makes for something rare and special. Keck is from outside of Chicago but came to Denver to go to Johnson & Wales Culinary School. “Culinary school brought me to Colorado,” said Keck, “and the mountains are what kept me here.”
The servers are very knowledgeable as well. Long-time server Crystal Vera Eastmond knows all about where the food is coming from and can tell you her opinion on all dishes and drinks. Two of the servers work at Berry Patch Farms during the summer, therefore Stowaway has an intimate relationship with the farms.
Everything feels connected and comfortable — it’s like having a family member or friend serve you supper. The whole crew wants to engage and help you find the best drinks and dishes for you and make your dining experience the best possible. “We want people to feel like they can come up and talk to the chefs after their meal,” said Barnie.
Stowaway Kitchen is located at 2528 Walnut St., Denver. The Supper Club happens Thursday through Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.