On Feb. 17, Chez Maggy celebrated its grand opening in the newly-minted Thompson Hotel. Situated on the lower end of the 16th Street Mall, Thompson is a grand 216-room expression of downtown’s shift towards all things boutique. It features not only the elegant French bistro but a fabulous classic cocktail-heavy lobby bar and a sixth-floor apres-ski-leaning lounge by the name of Reynard Social. Denver’s iteration is the latest in a string of locations that successfully opened during the pandemic, which have included San Antonio, Dallas, Savannah, Hollywood and Austin.
However, only Thompson Denver has been blessed with Chez Maggy. Helmed by award-winning chef Ludo Lefebvre, Chez Maggy offers a range of brilliantly-executed cuisine standards including escargot, steak frites, several omelets and duck l’orange. “I always wanted to open a restaurant in Denver,” grinned the chef, noting that his wife Krissy had grown up in Colorado.
Lefebvre — a native of Burgundy who relocated to Los Angeles after cutting his teeth in some of the finest kitchens in both the region and then Paris — gained early acclaim stateside for his work at both L’Orangerie and Bastide. But it wasn’t until he opened his own locations — first Trois Mec and then the neighboring Petite Trois — that his cooking would become viewed as some of the more iconic representations of French cuisine not only in LA but in the United States at large. The Los Angeles Times’ virtuosic reviewer Jonathan Gold loved dining at Petite Trois, as did Justin Timberlake. That Chez Maggy’s opening menu has more than a few similarities to Petite’s bodes well for a city that has never necessarily been at the forefront of French cookery. “Petite Trois is a classic French restaurant; Chez Maggy is based on classic French dishes. We are going to keep some classics but I want the menu to be alive,” said Lefebvre, noting that he plans to make the menu more playful as he continues to get acquainted with local preferences.
The menu is decidedly rich, each dish a sumptuous ode to unfettered decadence. Everything is good, though there are a few truly unmissable essentials. The escargot ($19) — that comes bathed in a rich broth of butter, garlic, chopped parsley and piquant Piment d’Espelette — is one of Lefebvre’s real specialties, with a slightly different version having helped propel him into SoCal stardom. The Pâté Campagne ($17) — cornichon, crushed pistachios and crisp country toast — is another classic that absolutely sings due to Lefebvre’s nuanced approach. The Burger a la Francaise ($27) — with American cheese, pepper gravy, pickled mustard seed, smoked mayonnaise and beer-braised onions — is a real fork and knife affair, the sheer heft alone justifying the rather substantial price tag. Dinner at Chez Maggy is all romance, though the fact that there is brunch served every day is a good sign of the place’s commitment to real sophistication.
That Denver is now attracting Lefebvre’s level of celebrity is a good sign for the city at large. “I was very impressed by how welcoming the chef community in Denver was,” he smiled.
Chez Maggy is located in the Thompson Denver at 1616 Market St., Denver. It is open Monday – Thursday from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m, and Sunday from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.