How a small restaurant in Aurora became nationally recognized.
When the James Beard Award nominations were announced, Chef Caroline Glover didn’t bother to peruse the list. With her Aurora restaurant, Annette, still brand-new, awards weren’t really on her radar. Later, a friend emailed Glover to congratulate her on her — not one — but two nominations, that Glover found out.
“It was shock and surprise,” she says. “I was elated, but then was like ‘Oh my god this is big. Are we ready for this?’”
The small restaurant, located in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace, opened up in February 2017 and was nominated for Best New Restaurant this year, and Glover herself was nominated for Best Chef: Southwest (along with Colorado locals Alex Seidel and Dana Rodriguez).
Glover’s career didn’t start out the way you might be expecting: she worked as the Chili’s to-go girl when she was 18, and that was enough for her to catch the restaurant bug. After that, she attended the Culinary Institute of America, worked at the Spotted Pig in New York, branched out and worked on a few farms across America, before landing in Colorado.
Her love of (and dedication to) seasonal menus started at the Spotted Pig. She says that the time spent at the restaurant was the first time she started to consciously consider seasonal items on a menu. Working on the farms was the point of no return for her work with seasonal menus.
“… when I was working on farms I depended on restaurants to depend on us all year round. So that opened my eyes even more,” she says.
One of the challenges of a seasonal menu can be the lack of choice — restaurants that focus on seasonal ingredients only have so many options at their disposal. But Glover says that restaurants just need to be creative with their ingredients, “We need to be doing a better job of using things when we can, when they’re in season, even if we’re tired of zucchini, find different ways to use it.”
One thing you might notice about Annette that stands out from the other restaurants opening up in and around Denver is that it is billed as a “scratch-to-table” restaurant, rather than the buzz-y farm-to-table label we’ve come to expect.
Glover, who is dedicated to farms and seasonal ingredients, says that she couldn’t bring herself to use the term farm-to-table because Annette isn’t 100% farm-to-table.
“I’m always hesitant to use the term farm-to-table just because I think there are people who are doing it and it is hard,” she says. “And sometimes farm to table is used so much that it takes away from the people who are doing it because it’s not an easy feat.”
What Annette promises is unique in Denver. Annette makes as much as humanly possible from scratch — from the pasta to the crème fraiche to the sauerkraut.
And if you’re a first time diner at Annette? Glover says that she always recommends going for the vegetables at Annette. Try the half-chicken, beautifully dressed in a sherry and butter sauce and the seasonal salad, currently a base of bibb lettuce enhanced with pickled ramps, radishes, ricotta salata, and dressed in a creamy tarragon dressing.
2501 Dallas St #108, Aurora, CO