Local Lists: Chef Eric Johnson

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Chef Eric and his son doing some conscious camping

Sometimes when I come home from the bars, I play Top Drunk Chef.

This basically entails me taking the items that I happen to have in my fridge and my cupboards, and trying to make the most delicious (and gourmet?) meal possible.  The next morning I come out to my kitchen, see the mess (which usually involves a lot of nutritional yeast), remember the previous night’s “episode”, and ponder how I didn’t slice off a finger or burn my kitchen down to the ground.

I am actually sort of surprised that concept doesn’t already exist on TV.  And if it did, I would totes watch it.

I have always thought that chefs were really cool.  If there was a restaurant where I could eat a meal off of Tom Colicchio’s bald head, I would pay top dollar to do so.

In my mind, chefs are like musicians, writers, artists, and drug dealers – they can not only whisk you off to a faraway place, but they can also greatly influence how you feel.  That’s a lot of power and a lot of grace to be wielding.

Meet Chef Eric Johson, current Executive Chef at The Curtis Club, which if you don’t already know is the reincarnated Old Curtis Street Bar (and also one of 5280 Magazine’s best new restaurants of 2014).  There have been numerous reviews of The Curtis Club already, so I will just take this opportunity to highlight a few key points about this newish venue:

  1. The Curtis Club offers one of the best interiors in town – kind of like if the Buckhorn Exchange met the former Lost Lake Lounge.  Clean, classy, Western, and refined.
  2. Although it’s location has been criticized (wha?), I think it totally works.  Welcome to the Wild West, y’all.  Time to explore some new frontiers, son.
  3. I don’t eat meat so I cannot comment on the alpaca loin chops, duck pâté, nor the bacon-wrapped rabbit, but I will say that their veggie burger is seriously one of the best I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve had my share Denvah!)
  4. Along with their newly-completed patio, The Curtis Club has also just introduced a new summertime menu.
  5. Every Tuesday, enjoy 50% off all bottles of wine – red, white, and bubbly.
  6. Check-out these before and after photos; cray.

Since Eric actually lives in Eldorado Canyon, this Local List includes some spots outside of Denver.  Road trip!  Read on for what’s good from Chef Eric, and stop by the Curtis Club sometime to check-out this reinvented haunt.

Name: Eric Johnson

Occupation & a little about yourself: I am a professional chef, avid rock climber, husband, and father to an amazing boy adopted from Ethiopia.

What is unique about The Curtis Club? The Curtis Club is unique in its honest approach to sustainability in both the food and the decor. [Editor’s note: The Curtis Club currently partners with Cure Organic Farm, Springtree Farms Rabbitory, Turtle Mountain Mushrooms, Weather’d T Ranch, and Colorful Ranch for many of their ingredients.]

What is your hope for this space? It is my hope for this space to be known as a go-to spot for understated quality in a casual and friendly atmosphere.

Favorite restaurant in Denver (or in Boulder): WE LOVE…Mesob, an Ethiopian spot in Denver.

Favorite watering hole in Denver (or in Boulder): Bucksnort Saloon, Sphinx Park, Co.

Favorite overall place in Denver (or in Colorado): Eldorado Canyon State Park, Eldorado Springs, Co.

Best event in Denver (or in Colorado): African Caribbean Heritage Camp

Best new trend in Denver (or in Boulder/Colorado): Beats me.  I’m not trendy.

Worst new trend in Denver (or in Boulder/Colorado): Restaurants charging much more than they should for what they provide.

What’s missing in Denver (or in Boulder/Colorado): Nothing; Denver has is it all.

A friend has three hours to kill in Denver (or in Boulder), what should they do?  In Boulder: 1st hour – Pearl Street Mall and Boulder Creek Trail; 2nd hour – quick hike at Chautauqua Park at the base of the Flatirons; 3rd hour – catch happy hour on the deck at the Flagstaff House Restaurant.

New, proposed slogan for Denver: Colorado: High on Life

The now-closed restaurant/bar/business in Denver (or Boulder) that you miss the most: Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Que in Boulder

Anything you want to plug? Cure Organic Farm in Boulder…They are the BEST!