Heed the call of Beckon’s Unique Dining Experience  

Photos: Courtesy Beckon

Photos: Courtesy Beckon

By the time you’re seated at the U-shaped communal chef’s counter, your sense of anticipation is bound to be as elevated as your curiosity

By Katie Coakley

It has all the hallmarks of a great evening: a nondescript entrance that requires a proper address to locate; a cozy firepit around which one can sip a cocktail, and a closed-curtain entrance that hints at the upcoming show. By the time you’re seated at the U-shaped communal chef’s counter, your sense of anticipation is bound to be as elevated as your curiosity. And at Beckon, that’s part of the fun.

Beckon, located next to its sister restaurant Call on Larimer Street in RiNo, opened in November 2018 with a unique concept. It’s open four nights a week and the multi-course menu is a mystery.

Oh, and there are only 18 seats at the table. Thus, with two seatings an evening, a maximum of 36 lucky diners are treated to the multi-sensory show that is dinner at Beckon.

After enjoying the warmth of the firepit on cool evenings, diners are ushered inside and seated at the communal table that encloses the open prep area that is bustling with activity: chopping, stirring, plating. Dietary restrictions (details about which are requested when the reservation is made) are discussed with the waitstaff, the opportunity to add a beverage pairing of either wine or beer is offered and, when all of the fine print is completed, the first of eight or nine dinner courses is presented.

Pay attention to the description of the dishes as they’re delivered. Each is a surprise because guests receive a menu only after the meal is concluded. But try not to get caught up in words like aebelskiver, juniper soda, sweetbread, squab or chicory. Instead of attempting to puzzle out the ingredients, simply wait until the first bite. That way, the dish is experienced as an entire cosmos of flavor before individual planets and stars are identified. The result is truly out of this world.

It’s possible to dine at Beckon weekly and have a different experience each time. The menu changes monthly with some dishes disappearing, while some ingredients may make encore appearances. For sommelier Zachary Byers, this is part of the fun.

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Byers creates the beverage pairing experience, allowing guests to marvel at the way the perfect wine adds even more nuance to a dish, or how unexpected pairings can provide an incredible marriage of flavor. The wine might change even more frequently than the cuisine does, allowing Byers and his team to consistently offer up a new tasting experience.

“It might be the case where we can only get one case of (a particular wine) and that lasts us about a week on a pairing menu,” Byers explained. “I would rather pick something really special like that and play with it for a week and then find something different. It’s more exciting for us and hopefully more exciting for the guest getting to experience that as well.”

Perhaps one of the most enticing elements of the dinner is the level of interaction and customization that’s possible. Not only are guests sitting just a few feet from the chefs prepping various courses, whirling around in practiced precision, but all of the staff is incredibly knowledgeable about ingredients, techniques and the reasoning behind various dishes and pairings.

“It’s about the experience that (the guests) want to have. There are some people who are fine having little to no information about what the wines are and what the food is. They just want to come and have a good time,” Byers said. “And others are really interested about everything that’s coming by and where is this coming from and why is this here. We just love to talk about all that stuff and we just kind of light up. If somebody asks questions, we’re like, oh great, this is what we’re here for.”

In addition to the wine pairing, Byers also offers a beer and cider pairing, though he admits that it’s not quite as popular as the wine offerings, with one beer pairing served for every 10 or 15 wine pairings. But he said that it’s something that they’re having fun with and it’s a nice option for those who are looking for something a bit different.

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Dining at Beckon is more than just dinner – it’s the opportunity to sit back, relax and put yourself in the chef’s hands, knowing that the end result is going to be spectacular. For two and a half hours, your only responsibility is to enjoy. It’s a heady experience.

“I think the fun thing about a menu format like this is that as long as there’s not like an allergy or a really severe dislike, it’s just kind of fun to be like, okay, sit down and we’re going to take care of you,” Byers said. “It’s really, really fun.”

If you go: Beckon is located at 2843 Larimer Street, Denver. Tickets are $95 per person for dinner only (beverage pairings are an additional charge) and reservations open on the first of each month for dates through the following month. For more information or to book, visit beckon-denver.com

Katie Coakley is a Denver-based freelance writer who focuses on craft beer and spirits, travel and outdoor adventures — the best stories combine all three. You can see more of her work at katiecoakley.com.