There's an exclusive new spot in Cherry Creek called the Clayton Members Club & Hotel, and frankly, it's a little extra for most of us regular Denver folks. But if you don't want to drop two or three grand to gain access to private dining, a rooftop pool and lounge and other event spaces, there are a couple of street-level options now open to the public. Of a Kind is a wood-fired restaurant that debuted on Thursday, April 29, and its grab-and-go sibling, OAK Market, is also now open, offering coffee, upscale deli foods and ice cream.
All of the food at the Clayton comes from the mind of executive chef Brandon Duley, who recently moved to Denver from Los Angeles, where his focus at the Gjelina restaurant group (and at other hotel restaurants) was on produce-driven cuisine sourced from the many farmers' markets in the L.A. area. He plans to continue that mission at Of a Kind and OAK Market, adjusting to Colorado's shorter growing season and unique purveyors.
A wood-burning grill centers Of a Kind's kitchen, with many of the dishes getting a turn on the grill. "I want our line cooks to be comfortable building a fire, maintaining a fire, cooking over fire," Duley says.
But this isn't a caveman's paradise of grilled meats. "My food is bright, fresh, health-conscious, with lots of greens and lots of herbs," the chef adds. "Of a Kind is my signature restaurant. It allows me to put a lot of my passion and creativity on the plate — unique, special, fun and weird dishes."
By weird, Duley means that he's coaxing flavors out of seasonal vegetables through pickling and fermenting, then using those vegetables — and the resulting brines — in a number of interesting ways. You'll be able to order a plate of pickled and fermented veggies, but the acidity and funk of fermentation will also come through in dressings, sauces and finishes, such as a crispy potato appetizer with pickled red onion and fermented aioli, and in other dishes perked up with preserved lemons, cured egg yolks and fermented leeks, for example.
The menu builds on Mediterranean and California cuisine with hints of North African spices. The goal, the chef explains, is to let the ingredients stand out. "The attention to detail is in the seasoning," he adds, "because seasoning can really make or break a chef."
Duley says he's been on the hunt for the best farms and purveyors to add to his shopping list, and mentions Dry Storage, chef Kelly Whitaker's grain and bread project in Boulder, and Esoterra Culinary Garden, where Mark DeRespinis grows rare and unusual produce specifically for chefs. On the OAK Market side, you'll find Smith + Canon ice cream, Little Owl coffee, Black Box pastries, Moe's bagels, Dry Storage breads and a funky beer from Crooked Stave Artisan Ales brewed just for the Clayton. Breakfast sandwiches, porridge and light breakfast plates start out the day, and for lunch there are salads, soups, sandwiches and charcuterie boards. "You might see our roast carrot dish that we plate at Of a Kind as a case salad at the market," Duley points out, as an example of the daily offerings.
The Clayton is located at 233 Clayton Street in Cherry Creek. OAK Market is now open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and Of a Kind is open from 5 p.m. to close Tuesday through Sunday. Brunch will soon be added, and a third concept, a cocktail lounge called Five Nines, will open on June 5. Call 303-551-1600 or visit the Clayton's website for details, including how to join the private club if that's your thing.
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