Cherry Creek North

Ultimate Guide to Dining in Cherry Creek

There's a bit of a dining renaissance going on in this posh neighborhood. 

For a while, the posh area set between University and Colorado boulevards and 1st and 6th avenues, seemed to be in a dining rut with chains joining the scene at a fast pace. The last year, however, brought great changes to the scene and new restaurants that are showing that Cherry Creek is still a top-notch neighborhood for restaurants. The posh neighborhood added a lot of new places with MatsuhisaDeparture, and Quality Italian, being among them. Chef Mary Nguyen added a second (larger) location of Olive & Finch in the 'hood and the team behind the Kitchen restaurant group just launched the stunning Hedge Row.

The neighborhood does not seem to be slowing down. The team from 801 Chophouse group announced that plans to open 801 Fish on the ground floor of the Civica building at 250 Fillmore St. in Cherry Creek North, as BusinessDen first reported.

Blue Island Oyster Bar

This oyster house and seafood emporium is set in a cool modern space that invites lingering at lunch or dinner. Whatever you do, don't miss the chowder.

by Andra Zeppelin  Aug 2, 2017, 10:25am MDT

Seafood and more

By Colleen O'Connor

If you're someone who likes to be first at the new places, head over to  Blue Island Oyster Bar, which opened yesterday in Cherry Creek North. 

It's the creation of Concept Restaurants, the team that's also behind Stout Street Social and  Humboldt Farm, Fish and Wine

Executive chef DJ Nagle created a menu that's got a beach-shack vibe, with such dishes as grilled ahi tuna with snap pea salad, sunflower pesto and wasabi greens, or charred octopus with a chorizo vinaigrette.

For those who aren't in the mood for seafood, there are hearty proteins like the Blue Oyster Bar Burger served with Haystack fries. 

And, of course, a range of tempting salads.

But oysters are a big player in their culinary game, and the restaurant has built a relationship with oyster diver and farmer Chris Quartuccio, whose Blue Island Oyster Co. in New York supplies many of the top restaurants in that city. 

The 100-seat restaurant also has a raw bar with fresh oysters, ceviche, crudo, clams, crab, caviar and lobster.

Blue Island Oyster Bar will be open daily starting at 11 a.m., serving lunch, late afternoon snacks, dinner and late-night eats at the bar. 

Happy hour will be weekdays from 3 to 6 pm.

2625 E. Second Ave. 303-333-2462; blueislandoysterbar.com

Blue Island Oyster Bar Starts Shucking Tonight

by Andra Zeppelin

Cherry Creek North just got groovier with this classic oyster bar. 

"I have wanted to open an oyster bar for a very long time," said manager Sean Huggard, a chef and restaurateur who made Denver his home for the last decade. An East Coaster, Huggard knew that the only way to make the goal a reality and maintain the standards that he grew up with was to partner with someone who had first dibs on great oysters, clams, and more.

Enter Chris Quartuccio, who is not only bringing the goods but also the name of the new restaurant. A Long Island oyster diver and partner at Blue Island Oyster Bar, Quartuccio is the founder of twenty year old Blue Island Oyster Company. His operation is the number one oyster and clam distributor in the New York area and has expanded to restaurants in Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston. 

The Cherry Creek North restaurant Huggard, Quartuccio, and their partners created brings the highest quality seafood in a casual and laid-back environment. Chef Dj Nagle, formerly of Humboldt, created a menu that is interesting and approachable, comforting and challenging at the same time. There is something for everyone from burgers to salads, but the highlights center around the classic and modern East Coast comfort food: the stuffie, the chowder, the lobster and crab risotto, and the crispy black cod, among others.

But if you only get the oysters and clams, you will still leave happy. Some nine rotating oysters will be available on a daily basis from the signature Blue Island No. 9, a farmed Long Island briny oyster with a smooth finish, to the well-marketed Naked Cowboy, a meaty wild oyster diver-harvested in the Great South Bay. Another highlight is the Shibumi oyster, a Puget Sound creation grown using tidal tumbling techniques to yield deeply cupped oysters that have a distinctive smoky finish.

The space, created by Arch11, is contemporary and inviting with sea-related elements throughout from the entrance that is meant to remember the interior of an oyster shell. There is an attractive mural of oyster divers behind the bar,  a large rendering of the Great South Bay lines, light fixtures that are reminiscent of the under-water world, and real oyster-harvesting baskets in which the goods are displayed. The dominating oar installation over the bar adds another dimension to the space.

Seating for up to 100 guests varies from banquette tables along the west wall to counter seats around the oyster bar and a posh booth right by the door. The restaurant opens tonight for dinner and will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Surf's Up at Blue Island Oyster Bar Tomorrow

BY MARK ANTONATION

Oyster bars and raw oyster service have become trendy in Denver restaurants, but Blue Island Oyster Bar, which opens tomorrow in Cherry Creek North, is taking shellfish obsession to a new level. The new seafood house next door to the Cherry Cricket is partnering with the Blue Island Shellfish Farm on Long Island, New York, and will offer several proprietary oyster varieties that the company will ship to Denver daily, with mollusks often pulled from Altantic coast waters in the morning that are ready to be shucked for dinner service.

Blue Island Shellfish Farm owner Chris Quartuccio partnered with Denver's Concept Restaurants (owners of HumboldtStout Street Social and Ignite Burgers & Lounge, among others) because he was looking for an experienced restaurant management team in a new market for his oysters and clams. At Concept, he found like-minded East Coasters in director of operations Sean Huggard and chef DJ Nagle. He'll provide farmed and wild-caught oysters for the group while Nagle will oversee the kitchen and menu of classic New York and New England fare.

Some of the oysters, like kumamotos, will have names familiar to shellfish aficionados, while others  — shibumi, Blue Island No. 9 and Naked Cowboy — are new to the Denver market and will be exclusive to the restaurant. The Naked Cowboy variety was actually named for the famed Manhattan street musician, and comes with its own branded hot sauce that was developed specifically to complement the flavors of the oyster.

Oyster buyer and head shucker Cory Egan will manage the prominent raw bar; oysters will be displayed on ice in steel diver baskets set on the bar counter. A Chef & Shucker tower will combine shrimp, clams and oysters served on ice topped with a wooden board of salmon rillette, tuna poke, sausage, artisan cheese and grilled ciabatta. A la carte raw bar offerings will cover caviar, ceviche, crudo and lobster.

Nagle's menu features seafood-shack favorites: clam chowder served with clam cakes; fish and chips made with cracker-crusted cod; clam "stuffies" overflowing with a breadcrumb, corn and linguica sausage mixture; and fried clam strips. "It's just stuff that I like to cook," the Long Island native explains. As a kid, Nagle says, he used to fish off the pier in Sayville, New York that now serves as the headquarters of Quartuccio's seafood company.

Modern dishes include tuna poke, black cod skewers served over Asian noodles with miso sabayon, and charred octopus with chorizo vinaigrette. 

The decor captures the feel of a New England seafood house with updated Cherry Creek influences. Weathered chairs and bar stools contrast with a sleek and clean-lined oyster bar while dim, architectural light fixtures shed a rippling, underwater glow against mural-sized maps and photos. 

The bar program will include seven house cocktails; Diver's IPA and Blue Island Blonde on tap (both made for the eatery by Boulder Beer); and an in-depth wine list that should please the Cherry Creek crowd. Happy hour will be offered from 3 to 6 p.m. daily.

Blue Island Oyster Bar opens at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 22, and will be open seven days a week. Closing hours are flexible for now until Blue Island settles into the flow of the neighborhood. Keep reading for a look at Cherry Creek's latest catch.

Two new restaurants to open at 250 Columbine in Cherry Creek North

Blue Island Seafood & Oyster Bar and SOL Mexican Cocina are coming to  250 Columbine, the mixed-use development now under construction in Cherry Creek North.

The seafood restaurant is a local company,  Concept Restaurants, which created Rialto Cafe, Spruce, Humboldt, and Stout Street Social. Blue Island Seafood & Oyster Bar will be the company's first restaurant in Cherry Creek.

"We wanted the right space," said Sean Huggard, operations director for Concept Restaurants. "Seafood is not cheap, so we were looking for that higher-end demographic."

Huggard, who once worked as a Nantucket chef, is a friend of  Chris Quartuccio, an oyster diver and farmer on the East Coast who owns  Blue Island Oyster Co.,  which supplies many of Manhattan's top restaurants. Quartuccio is a financial partner with Blue Island Seafood & Oyster, which expects to open in August.

To select the second restaurant, the developers scanned the current restaurant scene and decided an upscale Mexican restaurant would be good. They really liked SOL Cocina, which has restaurants in Newport Beach, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz. — and Deborah Schneider, executive chef and partner at SOL Cocina, focuses on the coastal cuisine of Baja California. 

A visit to the Newport Beach venue captivated Roy Kline, a managing director at Western Development Group in Denver, which is working on the project.

"It's really cool, right on the water in Newport," he said. "They do a great job, and it's really fun because when they sell a shot of tequila, it's presented Mexican-style with a little shooter of tomato juice."

OK, in Denver you won't be imbibing on the waterfront — but SOL Cocina will have a sidewalk patio.