The general stigma behind healthy eating is that it always comes at the expense of flavor. In reality, there is a whole world where flavorful and healthy food coexist peacefully. For The Rotary — a local restaurant celebrating open-fire rotisserie meats and fresh vegetables — the menu’s flavor come from seasonally inspired ingredients and subtle waves of oak and charcoal smokiness.
On January 13, The Rotary’s first stand-alone location opened in the Hilltop neighborhood. The team previously occupied a space at Avanti Food and Beverage for about two years from October 2018 to the tumultuous year that was 2020—clouded by various COVID19 related closures and restrictions.
Owners Don Gragg, Brian and Scott Boyd all grew up in Colorado and have been friends since middle school. While Gragg earned his culinary stripes working at prominent kitchens throughout the U.S and the South of France, it wasn’t until his partnership with longtime friends that opened the doors for this fine-casual concept.While the fare features hearty familiar dishes, it was designed to appeal to every eater from vegan and Paleo to gluten-free and Whole30.
“The person who just finished their yoga class and is doing the Whole30 diet can eat with us, the vegan can eat with us, the gluten-free diner can eat with us, the carnivorous biker who wants a ton of meat can eat with us — and so can everyone else,” Brian said, “We have something for everyone, which may sound cliché, but it’s absolutely true.”
Using charcoal and wood, the fire-roasted rotisserie plates include a build-your-own style serving with the choice of protein from slow-roasted pork shoulder and grilled salmon to rotisserie chicken thighs and half pork or chicken. Though the sides are meant to accompany the protein, these handcrafted picks really hold their own from blistered green beans, grilled polenta and house-made potato chips to jasmine rice, grilled broccolini, charred cauliflower and roasted smashed potatoes. Just as flavorful, each plate comes with the choice of three sauces made in house—chimichurri, peri peri and aji verde.With flavors inspired from around the world, each menu item is crafted to enjoy locally as either a quick bite for pickup or a comforting sit-down meal. While restaurants are currently limited to 25% capacity for indoor dining, The Rotary also offers takeout, outdoor seating and delivery within a three-to-five-mile radius.
Just as the menu is crafted locally, the ingredients are also sourced locally. A majority of the greens and herbs are procured in state and the meats are sourced from sustainably raised meat ranchers. While building a flavorful menu is of high importance to the Rotary team, environmental sustainability holds just as much weight.
“We believe the way America currently grows its food is the worst offender of global warming, and the way big agriculture is subsidized and marketed is terrible for our mental and physical health,” Scott said, “The Rotary isn’t as affordable as fast-food, but having a place that serves healthy, tasty and high-quality food in a setting that’s conducive to convenience is a small step toward creating a healthier environment.”While the build-your-own plates lend to diner creativity, the signature plates really showcase the thoughtfulness put into each meal. Some of the more popular menu items include the Peri Peri chicken bowl ($14) with rotisserie chicken, cauliflower fried garlic, pickled onion, brow-butter rice, greens, aji verde and peri peri or the rotisserie chicken sandwich ($13.5) with pickled onion, harissa aioli and arugula in between grilled ciabatta bread from City Bakery.
As in-door dining continues to evolve with varying government-mandated restrictions, The Rotary team encourages the use of their smartphone application to make ordering as seamless as possible.
The Rotary is located at 217 S. Holly St., Denver. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.