A little bit of Europe is coming to the neighborhood with the opening of The Bistro at Stapleton. General Manager and Executive Chef Cristino Griego, who lived and trained in Spain and Italy, wants people to be able to walk into his restaurant and have a European dining experience. “But, if you haven’t been to Europe, we want people to say ‘Wow, if this is what it’s like, I want to go,’” Griego says.
Originally planned to be more of a wine bar and bakery, Griego, a Park Hill resident, father and personal chef, helped reimagine the concept to be open from 7am to 10pm with a simple food menu, coffee, fresh-squeezed juices and a variety of wines, beers and spirits. A small mercantile area of The Bistro will have baguettes, specialty food items and tins of olive oil for people to refill their own containers.
The Bistro has been in the works for about one year since Wine Cellars of Stapleton moved next door to allow space for The Bistro. While some of the same people are involved, the two are separate entities, but with heavy crossover in knowledge and a passion for wine.
The Bistro will not have a full kitchen, but that’s not a concern to Griego. “With creativity and a little panache, I can come up with some beautiful things, but at the same time, the things we’re bringing in from all over the world are already so gorgeous, I’ll just let it present itself to the people!” he says.
The morning menu will offer bakery and breakfast items with coffee and juice. Sandwiches, salads and soup will be available at lunch. While daytime meals will have a fast-casual feel with walk-up ordering before sitting at a table, dinner will be more formal with full table service in the dining room and on the patio. Diners can order from the breakfast and lunch menus at dinner or order from a variety of small-plate offerings such as imported meats and cheeses, cured and smoked fish, bruschetta, house-marinated olives, pickles, and country pork rillettes, a meat pâté. All sauces, chutney, condiments and salad dressings will be made in-house. Griego also plans offerings based on what’s available seasonally and locally.
Down the road, Griego has plans for multi-course tasting meals, but the majority of the food will be served in smaller portions for the purpose of sampling and sharing. Prices will range from $3–$13; going higher for special event offerings.
While the small-plate format may harken to tapas, which are Spanish, Griego is
quick to say the concept goes beyond one country. “We’re running the gamut of Spain-meets-France-meets-Italy. It’s very Mediterranean cuisine,” he says, which will work in tandem with the approximately 20 wines from all over the world, one white wine on tap, 11 craft beers on tap and Prohibition-style mixed drinks. Wine will be available in a taster size, by the glass or by the bottle. A sommelier will be on staff to guide people through the menu to suggest good food and beverage pairings.
That coordination of food and beverage is critical to Griego, who works closely with his beverage manager to make sure beverages pair with certain aspects of the food being served, whether it’s a vegetable featured in a salad or a spice in a sausage. “We’re paying attention to a lot of the details,” says Griego. “The food will speak to the beverage program and vice versa.”
There won’t be a separate children’s menu, or a crayon to be found, but in the spirit of European dining, where, Griego says, “your children are always with you, even at a fine restaurant,” kids will be welcome.
Griego imagines all the ways The Bistro at Stapleton will be utilized by neighbors: a date night destination; a place to lounge on the patio; a gathering place for intellectual dialogue around the communal table (like book clubs); a spot to pick up food for dinner at home or for a picnic at the park (Griego suggests picking up a baguette from the mercantile area and a bottle of wine from the shop next door).
“We’re very idealistic people,” Griego says about everyone involved in the creation of The Bistro. “With the passionate artists’ backgrounds of everyone involved, we think we can change the world with this little 1,800-sq.-ft. building and we hope in some ways we do. We’re a neighborhood place, rooted in the neighborhood and take it to heart that we want people to keep returning to us.”
The Bistro at Stapleton is located at 2955 Ulster St. https://www.facebook.com/StapletonBistro