Local Jones Revamps Former Departure Space with Finely Crafted American Cuisine

For anyone who frequented the last restaurant connected to Cherry Creek’s Halcyon Hotel — Gregory Gourdet’s futuristic, aviation-themed, pan-Asian lounge Departure — the first arrival at Local Jones may be something of a shock.

What was once, not so long ago, a dimly lit, Singapore-chic cocktail bar has made way for a bright, cottage-house interior that still retains all of the class the previous space was known for. While Departure was decidedly sexy, Local Jones opts for a neighborhood hangout vibe — the 177-seat interior being divided into three sections for optimum coziness. On July 8, Jones will begin breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch services, with plans to expand into lunch as safety concerns and capacity restrictions ease up.

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While the menu looks straightforward on paper, chef Josh Sutcliff — whose resume includes stints at FT33 and Mirador in Dallas and San Francisco’s Bix and the now-shuttered Baker and Banker — refashions the dishes with calculated restraint, letting the ingredients shine. The shrimp “cocktail” ($16) arrives more resembling ceviche than its traditional counterpart — with a mix of chopped shrimp, guajillo chili, lime, lettuce and creamy parsnip being surrounded by a side of seasoned tortilla chips. The organic Verlasso salmon ($28) comes with green curry, cabbage, trout roe and dill — the buttery nature of the Patagonian fish being nicely complemented by the subtle spice. The roasted half chicken ($26) receives similar treatment — the lavender butter, wilted greens and chicken jus delivering just enough gentle accompaniment to let the perfectly-crisped bird shine. While all of the menu is excellent, the show-stealing beet hummus ($12) achieves culinary synesthesia — photographer Adrienne Thomas rightly noting “it tastes like you might imagine the color would.”

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Fitting nicely with the rest Local Jones’ aesthetic, the cocktail program — helmed by Micah Emerson, who cut his teeth over many years working for Bonnano Concepts — is both formidable and forward-thinking without ever being intimidating. The City Park ($15) combines Leopold’s Summer gin, lilac and lemon with a float of sparkling rosé. The Desert Bloom ($16) is watermelon-infused mezcal, ginger liqueur, prickly pear and lime. Perhaps the most exciting of the bunch, Jonesin’ blends Buffalo Trace, a shot of espresso, strawberry juice, vanilla syrup and lemon for an appropriately decadent dessert drink.

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While Departure has been sorely missed, Local Jones seems to be a more compatible fit with the atmosphere the hotel has been cultivating. With cuisine favoring the approachable and the wholesome, Jones does a good job of sneaking in impressive technique under the guise of comfort food.

Local Jones is located at 249 Columbine St., Denver. It is open for breakfast Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m then again for dinner Monday – Saturday from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Weekend brunch will be served on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. The restaurant is currently limited to seating 50 people at a time, so reservations are highly recommended.

All photography by Adrienne Thomas.