When Jarred Russell worked at Napa’s lauded French Laundry, he was used to farm-fresh produce and cooking with the seasons. In the summer of 2022, he took that experience and ethos to Denver’s Fruition.
“If the ingredients are good, the food is good,” Russell said during a recent dinner.
His straightforward approach to highlighting ingredients has been welcomed with open arms: Fruition was recently recognized in Colorado’s first Michelin Guide.
It’s easy to understand why when the first starters hit the table. Smoked trout rillette comes topped with dollops of roe and crème fraîche alongside latkes made with Colorado potatoes that are fried until perfectly crispy. The buttermilk fried maitake mushroom, also known as hen of the woods, sits inside a soft roll for a delectable meat-free slider.
Seafood features heavily through the menu, like the big eye tuna poke small plate with avocado, cucumber, and a lightly salted black rice chip. Then there’s the agnolotti—pasta stuffed with shrimp and served in a shrimp bisque with fennel root and loads of truffle. For the main course, a thick cut of sautéed barramundi (sometimes called Asian sea bass) over buttered spinach, baby artichokes, and a smoked trout roe emulsion more than satisfies.
“Today’s diners are pretty adventurous, especially in Denver,” Russell said. “It’s not the same steak and potatoes everywhere.”
Terrestrial options are just as well executed. Veal sweetbreads, for example, are soft and served in a rich sauce with capers that belies the cut of the protein. With so many options diners aren’t able to find on typical Denver restaurant menus, it’d be easy to overlook the roasted half chicken. Yet the crispy outside and juicy inside speaks for itself. You can design your own multicourse meal with à la carte orders, or put your experience in the hands of the chefs with the five-course Kitchen’s Choice.
Even as the main dishes wrap up, experiences that set Fruition apart continue. Wine and beverage director Timothy Hershberger designed a brandy focused after-dinner drinks menu that covers the gamut of fruit-based distillates: cognac, an extensive selection of rare Armagnacs (France’s older grape brandy region), Calvados (French apple brandy), and eaux-de-vies made from pear, carrot, apricot, and other surprising ingredients.
“Brandy is my passion, and I like to use our platform to broaden the horizons of both people who love it and those who don’t know they love it yet,” Hershberger explained.
Broadening horizons about what a Denver dining experience can be, it turns out, is what Fruition does best.