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Chefs + Restaurants

First Taste: twelverestaurant


My palate has a very short attention span,” says chef/owner Jeff Osaka of the brand-new twelverestaurant on the edge of Denver’s lower downtown area. “So I like to do little plays on different forms.”

Each plate at the simply appointed, matchbox tiny, delicately elegant restaurant betrays Osaka’s impatience, displaying variations on a theme: Braised pork shoulder with grilled pork tenderloin. Strip loin of beef with a slow-cooked short rib. Sautéed duck breast with duck leg confit. Most, not all, succeed.

Osaka’s focus, which he claims is on ingredients but which the plate proves is on technique, informs every dish that exits the kitchen; only in a restaurant this small, with a menu this compact, would this be possible.

Denver, a city thrashing through the same economic whirlwind as every other part of the country, would prove a steep ascent for any new restaurant, particularly one as aggressive about its price points as twelve, where entrées flirt with $30. But L.A.-bred Osaka, a gifted technician unwilling to compromise on vision, seems willing to take the bet.

Twelve, named for the number of months (and the number of times per year they’ll change the menu), exhibits a quiet audacity in a troubling time, which is, after all, exactly what brave restauranting is all about.

Twelverestaurant 2233 Larimer St., Denver (303-293-0287; twelverestaurant.com)