(by Hanna Schoenrock) At once elegant and comfortable, fancy and familiar: ChillFire Grill, which opened its doors on May 29, 2013, is truly Denver’s treasure. ChillFire, a locally-owned and locally-patronized fine-dining establishment, is for the community; that is the vision that the owners, Jim Morasso, Larry Griffin, and John Spencer, had for this eatery. When I sat down to talk about the story behind this beautiful establishment with the general manager, Thomas Jones, I learned about the passion that the owners, the managers, and the entire staff have for the atmosphere they create, the food and beverages they serve, and, most of all, the guests who dine at every meal. The staff of ChillFire means to provide an experience and not just a meal, and they do a beautiful job of accomplishing just that.
The 1673 (cucumber-infused Topa vodka, St. Germaine, club soda, lime, and simple syrup) is the perfect summer craft cocktail. Photo cred: ChillFire Grill
Offered as a First Plate, the Carpetbagger Medallion is served with asparagus, crisp fried oysters, and bernaise sauce. Photo cred: ChillFire Grill
Jones described to me a restaurant that has evolved because the goal of the owners and the manager has always been to meet the community at the door. When ChillFire first opened its doors, they didn’t know what the Denver community was going to expect. Denver doesn’t have a restaurant like ChillFire, so the owners knew they were breaking new ground. At first, they thought it would be a Denver version of Epic Chophouse, which is partly owned by one of the owners of ChillFire. After 2-3 months, the menu was changing along with the desires of the community. They wanted, for example, more seafood offerings and fewer steak entrees. Management was happy to oblige; after all, the Denver community was supportive in the beginning and remains supportive now “even after the newness wore off,” shared Jones.
Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops are served with grilled artichoke-fennel-potato-meyer lemon salad and champagne-leek beurre blanc. Photo cred: ChillFire Grill
ChillFire Grill takes the pork chop to an artisan level. The Lynchburg Laquered Heritage Pork Chop is served over sweet potatoes with mango-habanero salsa. Photo cred: ChillFire Grill
According to Jones, the story of ChillFire “. . . revolves around how we view our guests. We treat them like they are coming to our home—we give them a warm welcome at the door, we talk to them at their tables because we truly care, and we are flexible and willing to cater to our guests on the spot.”
It’s true; a guest can walk into the restaurant in jeans and a t-shirt, pull up a stool at the well-appointed bar, order a delicious bite to eat with a favorite beverage, and feel completely welcomed, or a party can celebrate a special occasion, dressed to the nines, and be made to feel as if they were the only patrons in the restaurant. With its spacious outdoor seating, the ever-present fireplace roaring on the inside, the elegant furnishings conceptualized and put in place completely by one of the owners, Sherri Griffin, and the knowledgeable and impeccably-trained staff, a person needs to go no further than ChillFire to find the perfect dining experience for any occasion. In addition to the dining room which boasts warm hardwood floors and picture windows across its entire front, the restaurant offers a stunning private dining room that is the perfect venue for, according to Jones, “the best things in life”: wedding rehearsals, birthdays, bridal showers, business functions—any reason to celebrate.
For steak lovers, there’s the Center Cut Certified Angus Beef Filet Mignon. Photo cred: ChillFire Grill
The restaurant is proud to offer some of the best of the area’s local fare: organic and gluten-free chicken from Stanley, NC-raised pork, and produce from Black’s. The bar offers a well-known and fantastic wine selection as well as mixed drinks and a draft beer selection that includes local breweries. Even the staff are “95% from this area” because management believes that having familiar faces of servers who have embraced ChillFire’s philosophy adds to the experience for the customer.
ChillFire Grill is open every day; the bar opens at 4:00, dinner is served from 5:00-10:00 and until 11:00 on Friday and Saturday, and brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30-2:30. The starter menu includes such treats as Angry Lobster, Cowan’s Ford Cheesy Bread, and Bloody Mary Oyster Saute. The main menu boasts chicken, duck, steaks, ribs, fish, burgers, pasta, salads, daily local offerings, and more. Sunday’s brunch includes a build-your-own salad station, a carving station, fried chicken, a seafood selection, an assortment of starches, biscuits and gravy, and an entire island of desserts. The food never disappoints, the prices are surprisingly reasonable, the ambience is breath-taking, and the service will ensure that no one leaves without having had an unforgettable experience.