In February Zeppelin Station’s international retail concept Made in a City welcomed 22 new brands from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. The space — which rotates its lines every three months — is personally curated by Mathieu Mudie, former owner of Montreal-based streetwear brand Lowell and the current retail director for Zeppelin Station, The Source and The Source Hotel. With each incoming destination, the store completely replaces its existing stock with products from a new city — so far representing Montreal, Portland and Iceland, with Mexico City to follow at the end of Reykjavik’s tenure. Clothing, accessories, jewelry and home goods make up the bulk of the boutique’s stock.
Mudie hand-selects the merchandise from lesser-known labels during a visit to each city, where he develops the relationships organically. Beginning with Iceland, what had previously only been conceived of as a retail idea began incorporating a food component. Over the course of the 90-day Nordic tenure, a couple rotating restaurants and a two-day pop-up from one of Iceland’s only Michelin-starred restaurant will bring their cuisine. In order to properly round out a complete Viking feast, both of the station’s in-house bars are stocked up with brennivin — an Icelandic aquavit-like liquor — and Einstock beer. Next weekend will also feature a cocktail class, a stand-up comedy show and a concert highlighting some of the volcanic island’s most promising talent. Going forward, the restaurant element is expected to continue with each new city.
SKAL!, a Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient, will occupy the space until April 10. Then Systir — sister-restaurant to the Michelin-starred Dill — takes over on April 16. Finally, Dill will serve a seated dinner with limited availability on April 20 and 21.
The menu at SKAL! — like all of Zeppelin’s others — is short, sweet and affordable. The nine-item list features two sandwiches, a hot dog, beef tartare, spicy celeriac, fried fingerling potatoes, a skirt steak, glazed lamb belly and a vegan mousse for dessert. Like much of the country’s cuisine, meat plays a large role, with a fair bit of dairy and aromatic seasonings like fennel, horseradish, caraway and dill giving the dishes complexity and depth. Even the vegan chocolate mousse ($5) is covered in bay leaf granita and drenched in rapeseed oil and licorice salt.
The Reykjavik hot dog ($8) is covered in crispy onions, spicy ketchup, remoulade, grained mustard, pickled cucumbers and dill. The delightful abundance of sauce is heavy but doesn’t drown the dog, and the onions and pickled cucumbers bring the appropriate crunch. The beef tartare ($12) comes with macadamias, watercress, beetroot glaze and fennel crackers. Once again the bold flavors and copious crunch make for an impressive and surprisingly intricate plate. The same intricacy goes for the drinks like The Viking blood ($9) — made with brennivin, Campari, Cocchi Torino and orange bitters. The brennivin amplifies the floral flavor of negroni-like cocktail, and knocking a few back will inspire vanquishing.
For anyone interested in learning the ins and outs of brennivin based drinks, guest bartender Kári Sigurðsson will teach a cocktail class on Thursday, March 21 at 5:30 p.m.— free with RSVP. Friday will feature stand-up comedy from Hugleikur Dagsson from 8 – 9 p.m., and on Saturday upstairs bar Big Trouble will host Kælan Mikla and Mammút for a night of music and dancing from 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Mudie’s dedication to Made in a City is all-encompassing, but he believes the outcome has been worth every minute. “The goal is culture building,” he said. He trusts that the cosmopolitan presence is well-suited to Denver’s blooming sophistication. The shop aspires to be a cultural destination — the multifaceted approach and the event-heavy schedule have been doing a good job of making it so.
Made in a City is open Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 – 6 p.m. Skal! is open Sunday – Monday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.