On April 1, 2022, fieldTRIP hosted its grand opening. Having originally debuted at the tail end of 2021, the Hawaiian and Polynesian barbecue that adjoins Recess Beer Garden relaunched just in time for spring. Helmed by executive chef Aaron Lowe, the new project from Recess founders William Frankland, Owen Olson and Ryan Donizio serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a range of staples that include loco moco, spam musubi, katsu curry and island-style burnt ends. This will be the group’s third venture, the trio having opened Recess in 2015. They then acquired the venerated Campus Lounge in 2020. All three grew up in the Wash Park area and have since built a reputation for their community-oriented approach toward business ownership.
“It always came back to the Hawaiian thing,” said Frankland, noting that the menu was partially inspired by Donizio’s wife’s Hawaiian heritage. Lowe — who previously acted as chef at the neighboring Bamboo Sushi before a stint at Campus Lounge — does a good job of doing largely unembellished renditions of the classics, opting for bold flavors and an ingredient-forward approach. While the menu is stationary for now, Frankland has expressed that the concept is open to modification, even suggesting that a full-scale overhaul could be possible if that’s what the neighborhood seems to desire. “Who knows, maybe we’ll switch it up,” grinned the co-owner. For now, however, the current menu has been a hit.
The menu has Spam-a-plenty, though it’s the house-smoked meats that really underpin the whole affair. The Kalua pork combo plate ($16) sees succulent shoulder served with a Hawaiian roll, grilled pineapple ring and a side of pineapple chili barbecue sauce. This is robust luau fare and fits in nicely with Recess’ everlasting patio aesthetic. Having at least one Spam musubi ($4) per beverage is encouraged if a proper feast is on the agenda. For dessert, the pineapple soft serve Dole Whip ($4) is a must.
Lowe does the majority of his creative stretching on the breakfast menu, with items like the banana macadamia pancakes ($12) — served with pineapple-infused syrup — showing the chef’s penchant for downright jubilant flavors. Bud’s Stoner Sandwich ($12) — a Shokupan-laden triumph complete with two fried eggs, bacon, strawberry preserves and American cheese — continues in that same vein.
Drink-wise, Recess is still doing most of the heavy lifting — boasting 24 taps to fieldTRIP’s four. Even so, the cocktail selection is nothing to sneeze at. Favoring tiki, the concoctions include the Flying Foster’s Gin Punch ($10) — with Askur gin, Campari, Kraken rum, lime, simple and pineapple — and the equally spiritous Navy Grog ($10), which deftly blends Gosling’s dark rum, Cruzan rum, Deki Amaretto, lime and simple syrup. In a city that seems to have an endless escalating cap on cocktail prices, fieldTRIP delivers a proper bang for the buck. There are also jello shots.
While the menus are currently separate, the ability to do continuous ordering across the whole of the Recess/fieldTrip campus is set to be added in the coming months.
fieldTRIP is located at 1900 West 32nd Ave., Unit 10, Denver. It is open every day from 8 a.m. – 2 a.m.
All photography by Roxanna Carrasco.