The Brown Palace first opened its doors to horse-drawn carriages back in 1892. The Palace Arm’s –one of 6 on-site dining options – parallels its historical prowess in Denver. After more than a century-long stint, a pandemic wouldn’t be able to shut its doors for good. Instead, the museum-quality mementos have been freshly dusted and await the eyes of excited guests.
But this ode to the old school Napoleon era isn’t fixated only on tradition, the reopening includes a new head chef, modern plating and fresh ideas. It seems juxtaposed at first but underlining it all is the strive for an excellent hospitable experience.
As the Palace Arm’s begin to usher in new guests and seasoned veterans, they have a larger welcome to give that goes to the new head chef for the hotel, Kim Moyle. As the hotel’s first woman executive chef, she oversees all the restaurants on-site. Her extensive experience in hotel restaurants prepares her well. Under her guidance, she shifts the menu to prioritize farm-to-table, locally sourced cooking. With the abundance of produce that surrounds Denvers and neighboring towns, Moyle knew incorporating freshness was a Colorado mentality.
Moyle creates strong relationships with farmers from Parshall, Colorado’s Fitch Ranch as their organic beef purveyors. Fitch Ranch curates their steak section of the menu with upscale cuts like ribeye cap – often called “Butcher’s Butter” because of its irresistible richness. The more traditional cuts, beef tenderloin and NY strip still make the menu as well. Steaks sell by the ounce with five ounces as is the minimum per order. A demi, béarnaise or bleu cheese butter are their signature finishing touch, but diners can feast on a fancier experience by upgrading to add umami-packed foie butter, caviar and shaved truffles.
These additions can be added anywhere along with the meal – with recommendations for adding truffle to their laminated herb ravioli ($30). The ravioli build upon the velvety ricotta inside each square with the earthiness within both truffles and mushrooms making their union undeniable. Even without any additions the ravioli and the wild Mystic mushroom Tart and spring pea soup ($15)are highly praised as they make a meal out of organic, locally sourced Mystic Mountains mushrooms. Mystic Mountain farm sees the beautiful view of Grand Lake as well as rows of mushroom varieties from little white buds of enoki to turkey tail — with a print similar to the ombre ridges on a shell.
While seafood isn’t always accessible among the mountains – the Palace Arms puts only the best on their menu which can encourage offerings beyond beef to be beloved options. One of Moyle’s favorites – the Chilean sea bass – glistens with its golden sear. This seemly simple dish holds a surprise underneath. Flaking away the fish reveals a light pink king crab waiting to add an extra sweet sea taste.
Surf and turf carpaccio. Photo courtesy of the Brown Palace.For an upscale surf and turf, they turn away from steak and lobster for a duo of carpaccios as a refreshing beginning to the menu. A refined yin and yang appearance pairs the deep red filet from Fitch Farms alongside almost translucent hamachi. The hamachi is drizzled with a yuzu vinaigrette while the filet has the black garlic aioli to stand up against the meatiness.
Moyle noticed that many menus make vegetarian options but wanted to go a bit further by having a rotating vegan option. It boasts the best of the local produce that Moyle and her staff can find. She hopes it can be something people want to explore rather than see it as their only dietary option.
This switch from the supermarket standard to the livelihood of local independent farms matches the eloquent plating and sophisticated standard the Palace Arms seeks to uphold. They care for their farmer equally to that of the customer. This sense of unity comes through in their table-side presentation of caesar salad. The waitstaff engages with guests throughout the meal to further the creation of community.
The Palace Arms is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.