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French Connection

Noisette Is a Breath of Fresh Air for the Denver Restaurant Scene

Article by Allyson Reedy

Photography by Jeff Fierberg

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

You don’t have to love French food or style to appreciate what Noisette brings to the Denver restaurant scene. In a sea of menus that read the same and cookie-cutter modern-industrial-chic dining rooms, Noisette’s nuanced menu and stunning space stand out, wafting a breath of fresh croissant-scented air across town. And if you do love French food and style? Well, bienvenue to your new favorite restaurant/bakery/hangout in the city.

Noisette opened in a quiet LoHi corner (yes, one does exist) in August. It’s the dream restaurant of wife and husband team Lillian and Tim Lu—she’s the pastry chef, while he helms the savory side. While the food from the French Culinary Institute of New York-trained chefs certainly shines, the first thing you’ll notice is that incredible space.

Pastel, crushed velvet chairs pop against muted tile floors; brass candelabras hang from a circled ceiling; and just the right amount of French flair—two golden fans, a trio of ornate framed portraits—hang on the white walls. Tablescapes are equally gorgeous, with cut glassware, mismatched China and small vases of fresh-cut flowers decorating the tables. Lillian spent a year and a half collecting the antique floral plates from area thrift shops, and you—and your Instagram followers—will appreciate every second of her efforts.

The menu is a mix of both expected French fare, like escargot, duck and those rich, creamy sauces the French do so well, and things you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find. Monkfish, for example, isn’t something you see on many Denver menus, and Tim’s is beautifully light and succulent, floating on a pool of mussel broth and chicken jus. The quail is stuffed with forbidden rice and topped with a sweet cherry and maitake glaze, perfect for sopping up the bowl of impossibly smooth whipped potatoes.

The mushroom and melon salad is another dish you won’t find anywhere else. The tiny cubes of cantaloupe and honeydew make a picturesque bed for the braised lobster mushroom and prosciutto crown. Eaten together, it’s a sweet, salty, umami-packed bite. The escargot is different, too, served minced with potato choux pastry and crisped up into little balls before getting a dip in herb aioli.

Lillian’s carbs deserve a story of their own, starting with the baguette and ending with the tarte Tropezienne. The baguette comes warm, knotted and served with a cup of cultured brown butter, and you can taste every bit of care that goes into the deceptively simple starter. The dessert menu includes scoops of sorbet, a dark chocolate tarte, and that tarte Tropezienne, a split sweet brioche bun dotted with pearl sugar and filled with fluffy vanilla bean cream.

You can get more of Lillian’s sweet creations at the attached bakery, which serves a mix of croissants, cannelé, bonbons, macarons, éclair, tarts and more, depending on when you get there. You can also take home loaves of baguette and beurre Noisette, their house-made cultured brown butter, or grab coffee drinks from Novo Coffee or a Ku Cha tea.

Whether you hit the bakery or the restaurant, you’re bound to be floored by the atmosphere and the food. Especially when so many restaurants tend to blend together, Noisette is something beautifully different.

Noisette Restaurant & Patisserie: 3254 Navajo St., Denver, 720-769-8103;

  • Photo: Katie Knoch
  • Photo: Katie Knoch