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Chef Lon Symensma and business partner Christopher Davis-Massey announced the long-awaited reopening of their European restaurant, Bistro LeRoux on December 17, 2021. Leroux is located in the heart of Denver’s LoDo neighborhood at 1510 16th St Mall, Denver, CO. LeRoux shuttered earlier this year to undergo a menu revamp as well as some interior changes.
“We wanted to take what turned into a relatively fancy, strictly French restaurant and bring it back to its bistro bones,” said Symensma in a statement. “I wanted the food to focus less on haute French cuisine and hearken back to my time spent in all different parts of Europe, bringing that old-world, inviting vibe you can find in small bistros all throughout Europe.”
During his training, Symensma spent time cooking (and eating!) in kitchens across Europe in Spain, France and Italy. It was this experience he wanted to bring to life with the new menu. Still an homage to his mentor at the Culinary Institute of America, Xavier LeRoux, the menu has just taken a softer, more approachable angle.
The menu now features a “Snacks” section, featuring light bites perfect for pairing with a glass of wine in the new lounge, with items like Smoked Marcona Almonds (smoked in-house) with paprika spice; Pommes Frites with Oak-Aged Vinegar Aioli; and the European classic nosh, Medley of Radish Crudite with homemade whipped butter and gastrique.
The “Small Plates” section is a Mediterranean tour with delectable shareables like a Local Charcuterie and Mediterranean Cheese Board, with house-dried fruit chutney, cornichons and homemade olive oil crisps; Chicken Liver Mousse, with Fig and Port Jam, Menage a Poivre and Toast Points, Spanish-style Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Ragu, Fresh Ricotta and Basil; and Oysters–either chilled with Ice Wine Mignonette or Broiled Rockefeller with Lemon-Garlic Butter and Parsley Panko. Still on the menu is LeRoux showstopper, 7X Wagyu Steak Tartare with Smoked Egg Salad, Crème Fraiche, and Potato Chips.
The “Large Plates” section features dishes that are easily shareable, or enjoyed on their own: there’s still original LeRoux favorites like the Onion-Crusted Short Rib served with Gruyere Cheese Potatoes and Thyme Crunch; and Mushroom Mille-Feuille but this time with White Bean Cassoulet and Red Wine Jus; a Cowboy-Style Rigatoni with a hearty Pork Bolognese with tomato cream and basil; a Moroccan Chicken Tajine with Saffron Couscous, Lemon Confit and Olives.
The space has undergone a refresh. Bistro LeRoux is now home to a cozy lounge where the team hopes to host warm and intimate gatherings, from happy hours to post-theater drinks and dessert. The bar area where guests can enjoy a newly expanded wine list is approachable and inclusive, offering perfectly paired for the eclectic menu. The dining room seats 50, and the lounge and wine bar offers space for 26. The intimate patio with space for 12 completes the European vibe. The intimate private dining room with space for 24 still remains, and is a beautiful jewel of a space for events.
ChoLon Restaurant Concepts was co-founded and is operated by Chef Lon Symensma and Christopher Davis-Massey. ChoLon, which means “big market” and refers to the largest Chinese-influenced market in Saigon, Vietnam, is Symensma’s homage to Southeast Asia and the years he spent traveling and living in that region. It was through this restaurant that Denver became familiar with Symensma’s keen ability to translate the flavors, textures, colors, and stories of the Far East into dishes that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner any day of the week.
Chef Lon Symensma opened ChoLon in 2010, having already earned two stars from the New York Times during his time working at Buddakan in New York City. He had already honed his skills and passions as an apprentice in France, Italy, and Spain at Michelin-starred restaurants and San Sebastian’s famed Arzak. At age 19 Symensma won a silver medal in the 1996 Culinary Olympics. He went on to spend several years training under Jean-Georges Vongerichten, including helping to open Jean-Georges Shanghai. In the last nine years he’s opened several concepts in Denver including the iconic ChoLon Modern Asian; as well as founding the ChoLon Restaurant Concepts group with business partner Christopher Davis-Massey. In 2018, Symensma opened LeRoux, named as a tribute to Chef Xavier LeRoux, one of his early CIA mentors.