It has been a busy year for the people over at Culinary Creative. Between Morin opening at the end of 2018 and Maine Shack opening in July, there has not been much rest for Juan Padro and his expert cohort. This November, Chef Blake Edmunds — executive chef and part-owner over at Señor Bear — will introduce Mister Oso in the location formerly housed by neighborhood-favorite The Populist. The concept is billed as a younger brother to the existing Señor Bear and will focus on Latin-inspired menu favoring smoked meats and ceviche.
On Thursday, September 19 the Oso team — including chef de cuisine Russell Stippich, who previously helmed The Populist’s kitchen — took over the garden at Infinite Monkey Theorem, presenting some items from the impending menu as part of a pop-up celebrating the harvest. A six-item, wine-paired dinner debuted some truly inspired dishes from the crew, confirming Mister Oso’s position as one of the more hotly-anticipated restaurants opening this fall.
The smoked pork belly — served atop butter lettuce and laced with tamarind, pickled vegetable escabeche and herbs — was astoundingly tender, the lettuce providing a crunchy spine for a dish that otherwise might melt right onto the plate. Even something as simple as the mini wedge salad provided a surprising amount of excitement. Neatly dashed with chile buttermilk dressing, jalapeno, radish, bacon bits and herbs, the two-bite slice was a refreshing complement to the meat and fish-heavy spread. The piece de resistance was the smoked beef cheek taco with oyster mushrooms, avocado and charred onion. The fatty cheek was perfectly crisped to buttery perfection, with the onions augmenting the char to brilliant effect.
Everything Culinary Creative has a hand in has wound up being exceptional, and by every indication, Mister Oso will be no different. The collaborative effort between Edmunds and Stippich is clearly yielding nice results and the smooth transition that finds Stippich continuing at the same location is comforting. And fortunately, while diners wait on the cub, the original Bear is still in full effect.
Mister Oso will be located at 3163 Larimer St., Denver. It is scheduled to open early November.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.