So I finally made it out to Chowder Room (560 S. Broadway) — one of the first Denver restaurants to open in 2015, and one I’d been meaning to visit ever since I heard about it. And it was awesome!
When I first walked into Chowder Room, it reminded me of a cozy seafood shack. The first word that comes to mind is “quaint” — but in the best sense of the word. It’s friendly and unpretentious. If you meet Chef-Owner Matt Stein, you’ll realize that it’s the perfect embodiment of who he is: a humble but extremely talented chef who’ll ask you about all your favorite restaurants rather than talking about his accolades at some of the best seafood restaurants in LA.
The Chowder Room’s decor is really a labor of love, as the Stein family built most of the interior by hand. It’s a refreshing mix of woods and shades of blue, with tin-pressed ceilings and themed photos and knick-knacks all over the walls. It’s the kind of place that immediately makes you feel comfortable when you walk into it.
The menu at Chowder Room is simple, but delicious. They don’t confuse you with too many choices and let the seafood sing, highlighting it with delicious sauces and spices. (The majority of the seafood comes from Denver-based Seattle Fish Co. — and I’m all for supporting local companies.)
I recommend ordering the chowder sampler your first time here, so you can try their classic New England clam chowder, a spicy red seafood chowder, and the chowder of the day. When I was here, the chowder of the day was a Rhode Island clear chowder that was exploding with juicy clams, but in the past, they’ve done a shrimp bisque, a Central Coast chowder with red wine and a mix of seafood, a cod chowder, and a variety of others that Chef Stein has come up with. If you follow @ChowderRoomCO on Twitter, you can see what their chowder of the day is.
I’ve also heard that the vegan green coconut-curry “chowder” with tofu and roasted veggies is absolutely amazing.
Chowder Room doesn’t just excel at its namesake. One of my favorite seafood dishes I’ve ever had is the BBQ shrimp here. If you’ve never been to New Orleans, let me explain: BBQ shrimp are not grilled crustaceans smothered in a sticky, semi-sweet BBQ sauce. New Orleans style BBQ shrimp come in a broth-like Cajun spicy sauce. This one’s inspired by Chef Stein’s six favorite New Orleans recipes.
The special of the day when I was here: Prince Edward Island mussels with a garlic, butter, white wine, and hazelnut sauce. Really good, but if I had a choice, I’d go for all the other things I tried first.
The crab cake and remoulade were absolutely fantastic. And for $6.75, this is probably the most affordable crab cake you will find around Denver.
The drink menu isn’t long, but it’s extremely well-thought-out for pairing with seafood. There are at least 3 bottles of white wine that have won the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition (and they’re all under $40!). My personal favorite was the Foris Pinot Blanc. It was just perfect with all the seafood we were eating, especially the spicy BBQ shrimp — and I imagine it would be heavenly with some oysters.