The New 12@Madison in Congress Park Serves Up Inventive, Tasty Dishes for a Great Date Night

Ever since it opened in April of this year, 12@Madison — Chef Osaka’s new restaurant in Congress Park — has gotten rave reviews. Westword called it Denver’s best new restaurant, Zagat praised it for its “low-key refinement,” and Yelp reviewers have given it 4.5 stars. I finally got around to making my way out there, and it was indeed a great place for date night.

For those who don’t know, Chef Osaka’s original Denver venture was a restaurant called Twelve, which was downtown near 22nd & Park and closed in 2014. Chef Osaka then opened Osaka Ramen (which is fantastic), and now 12@Madison. While I really enjoyed 12@Madison, I can’t help but still miss Twelve, though. I love the trendy new 12@Madison space, the sharable small plates, the freshness of the ingredients, and the constantly changing inventive dishes — but Twelve was just a little more decadent (and had some bigger plates).

For all the vegetarians out there, it looked like 12@Madison also has a sizable and tasty selection of vegetarian options.

Considering the prices (small plates will run you $9-$15 each), I would definitely recommend starting at 12@Madison for happy hour if you can. I can’t for the life of me find the information online, but I believe happy hour runs 4-6pm. And it includes these little pork sliders, which were hands-down one of our favorite bites of the night. I wouldn’t mind eating these all night, to be honest.

The only thing I didn’t love were these happy hour “spicy” chickpeas — there really wasn’t anything spicy about them. The texture was fantastic, but I took these home and shook them up with some piri piri spice — and they were much better.

The “baby lettuces” salad wasn’t anything special either, but it was very fresh and a great side for some of the other food.

My favorite dish was the smoked colorado trout. It was just so flavorful and tender — and very different from anything else I’ve eaten lately. Plus look at that plating!

The “duck confit agnolotti” had amazing flavor, and the duck just melted in my mouth. The pasta may have been a little thick/tough for that pairing I think, but I still loved the dish.

My husband’s favorite, the “braised lamb shoulder” — was definitely an expertly cooked lamb dish. I think you can tell from the photo how tender and juicy that is.

And then there was the “coconut panna cotta” — which was a very interesting take on the dish with the pink peppercorns. Not as decadent as I’d want a dessert to be, but still delicious.

I’ll leave you with one last recommendation. If you’re a lover of rose wine like me, you’ve got to try this Austrian rose (and it’s one of the slightly more affordable wine options here). I’ve never seen a rose that color, nor had one quite like this one in taste. Light and mineraly, but not sweet.