Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is a multilevel "gastro-brothel" that surrounds its guests in luxurious furnishing, flattering mood lighting, and blatantly sexy décor, aka it’s a great place for a date. In addition to dining, there’s a stage and lounge in the lower level, also viewable from the upper restaurant level that wraps around it. The name of the place is an intriguing mouthful… and you’ll find the food is as well.
Ophelia’s opened a couple years ago and is part of Chef Justin Cucci’s collection of top-rated restaurants around Denver. Located in the old Airedale building on 20th Street and Larimer, it was formerly a peep-show parlor and clearly inspired the restaurant’s décor. The menu is a tantalizing assortment of American dishes featuring globally inspired ingredients paired in intriguing ways. In addition to its vegetable forward dishes, 75% of the ingredients are organically sourced and the menu has gluten-free and vegan icons to help those with dietary restrictions.
We were delighted to dine at Ophelia’s this Tuesday and were treated to an amazing assortment of dishes that showcased the variety of foods, flavors, and ingenuity the team brings to the tables each night. We began with cocktails of course, the Never Enough gin cocktail and the Hard Eight Rye cocktail, which were both great – one sweet and citrusy the later earthy and zesty.
To start, we selected the Smoked Scallops, 600 Degree Squash and the Crispy Pork Belly. This was already more food than we could finish knowing entrees where ahead, but we are so glad we ordered it all anyway because these three dishes were outstanding. The scallops were petite, soft and smoky, served with lavash crackers, microgreens, and a chive crème fraise and hot sauce, all meant to pile onto the crackers. The creamy crème spread was a perfect balance for the smoky scallops and seed-laden lavash. We also loved the 600 Degree Squash, a collection of caramelized yellow and green zucchini with sweet, creamy goat feta and a sundried tomato sauce. The Crispy Pork Belly was especially outstanding because it was not full of fat like so often happens when we’ve ordered pork belly. It truly was crispy and candied on the outside, and soft and supple on the inside, bursting with so much savory and sweet flavor. Best pork belly we can recall!
Next, the kitchen surprised us with their Brothel Burger and BBQ Chicken Flatbread. The burger was super succulent Elk, we didn’t even realize this while we ate it, topped with Korean BBQ, Miso candied bacon, Ponzu onions, and pickled vegetables all between a pretzel pun. We loved it. The BBQ Chicken Flatbread was accompanied by bacon, Pepper Jack, mozzarella, charred onion, bell pepper and jicama-radicchio slaw, which was an excellent addition to an overall wonderfully composed sweet, smoky, tangy pizza. All of their flatbreads and burger buns are also available gluten free.
We then made room for two of their Dinner entrees, the Steelhead Trout with Pozole and Chicken & Waffles, which were like yin and yang as far as flavors, textures, ingredients and nutrition. Pozole is a traditional Mexican stew composed of hominy, green chilies, and spices. Their pozole is topped traditionally with fresh radishes, cilantro, tomatillo salsa, and chunks of avocado, but is only mildly spicy. The trout was wonderful, not too fishy, seasoned with black pepper, and a great, local alternative to salmon. An added bonus, all of the warming spices, herbs, root vegetables and omega-3 fish make this an excellent winter dish and flu-fighter!
On the other end of the spectrum, the Chicken & Waffles were decadent, sweet and crunchy. It comes with two pieces of herb and potato laden waffle between three pieces of crispy, fried chicken topped with bacon bits, a flavorful cinnamon apple butter and chili honey – my goodness! On the side, there’s a bit of healthy greenery for you with apple slices and dried cranberries.
Throughout all of this wonderful feasting, live musicians took turns on the stage below for open mic night. Wednesday’s and Sunday’s Ophelia’s has jazz bands, and the rest of the week generally has live music events as well. Ophelia’s is much more than just a delicious restaurant; it’s a happening hangout with plenty of pleasing offerings. The bar and lounge areas provide really nice drinking spots, and the wrap around restaurant is an awesome medley of fabulous food and dynamic entertainment below. We absolutely suggest you go!
Words by Tiffany Candelaria @tcdoesfnb Photos by Samantha Bliss @redfollowsherbliss