Sage Restaurant Group, the Denver-based independent restaurant group dedicated to providing innovative, playful, and locally driven food and beverage experiences–opened Departure Restaurant + Lounge, a modern Asian kitchen, in Denver.
Similar to its original location in Portland, Oregon, Departure Denver’s ambitious menu captivates diners with authentic interpretations of Asia’s coastal cuisines. Departure Denver’s décor differs from the Portland location’s maritime-inspired design, drawing inspiration from luxury air travel, allowing guests to escape on a global adventure without ever leaving Cherry Creek. Departure Elevated, a seasonal rooftop lounge offering unrivaled views of Cherry Creek and the Rocky Mountains, is set to open later this month in the same building.
“Departure Denver is exotic, sophisticated, and contemporary, all of which we feel makes it unlike anything else found in the city,” says Peter Karpinski, co-founder of SRG and Denver resident. “The transportive quality of the restaurant will make it top-of-mind for diners looking for escape and adventure. I am thrilled to bring this unique international dining and drinking experience to my hometown.”
Chef Gregory Gourdet, culinary director of Departure Restaurants and finalist on Bravo’s “Top Chef” in 2015, helms the culinary team at Departure Denver alongside Executive Chef Khamla Vongsakoun. The pair, as well as Karpinski and other SRG leaders, toured extensively across Asia earlier this year to research the cuisine, culinary techniques, and approach to service in countries including Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, and Japan.
“Our time in Asia inspired us to create a menu that pays homage to the people, cultures, and cooking styles we encountered throughout our time overseas,” says Gourdet. “Much like we have done in Portland, the goal for Departure is to offer a diverse range of Asian dishes and flavors in a way that is authentic and credible, yet slightly unexpected, at the same time.”
Whether wok fired, steamed, smoked, or grilled, Departure’s culinary team masters each technique to expertly craft dishes including Bibimbap with koshihikari, Wagyu beef, egg, kimchee, and gochujang sauce; Vietnamese Duck Curry with coconut milk and holy basil; or Crab, Chinese Sausage & XO Fried Rice with Dungeness crab, ginger, and crispy garlic. The restaurant is dedicated to serving sustainable seafood.
The journey continues beyond the kitchen with an homage to Asian bar traditions showcasing intricately curated saki and whiskey programs. Beverage Director Brandon Wise’s drink menu features spirited cocktail creations such as the Tao of Tanuki with shochu, lime, watermelon, chili salt, basil, soda; and Piston Honda with Hibiki Harmony whiskey, bonal Gentian aperitif, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters.
The Asian culture is synonymous with soothing balance and intricate details, yet fiery flavors and high-energy. Departure Restaurant + Lounge’s design embraces these cultural aspects wholeheartedly and presents a space that is daring yet harmonious, much like the restaurant’s cuisine. Guests emerge into the restaurant through the sculptural entrance into an ethereal, sexy, and unexpected interior that takes them on a memorable and ever-changing adventure. The architecture is derived from international mid-century modern airports, aeronautical design, and the golden age of travel. Artwork from Happy Lucky Studio evokes the abstract patterns in cities, farmlands, and wetlands as viewed from 35,000 feet in the air.