Denver's 9 Sexiest New Restaurants and Bars

“It’s all about the undulating, up-lit ceiling. Essentially a hanging sculpture of wooden waves, it almost seems to be gently washing over you even as you bathe in the glow of Concourse’s LIVstudio-designed dining room in Stapleton. And the sense of immersion in warmth extends to the menu — elegant as chef-partner Luke Bergman’s New American cuisine is, there’s a heartiness that makes you want to dive right in with someone.”

Denver’s 9 Sexiest New Restaurants and Bars

Best Thing We Ate This Week: Arugula Sorbet (yes, really) at Concourse

“‘I just had the best arugula sorbet of my life!’ I excitedly announced to my husband after returning home from Concourse, Lon Symensma’s new restaurant in Stapleton’s Eastbridge development.

Granted, it didn’t really have much competition, having never eaten another arugula sorbet before and all (or even knowing such a thing existed). But oh, the passion it inspired! We’re talking I-wanna-die-with-you-Wendy-on-the-streets-tonight-in-an-everlasting-kiss style passion, all over arugula sorbet.”

Best Thing We Ate This Week: Arugula Sorbet (yes, really) at Concourse

ChoLon chef opens first non-Asian concept, launches restaurant group

Lon Symensma, the chef behind Denver’s most acclaimed Asian restaurants, is widening his portfolio with an American-style eatery opening Wednesday that will be the first concept in his newly formed restaurant group.

ChoLon chef opens first non-Asian concept, launches restaurant group

5280 Magazine - Denver’s 25 Best Restaurants 2016

“In 2010, Lon Symensma traded New York City for Denver because he craved the Colorado lifestyle and recognized that our burgeoning dining scene was on the verge of exploding. In the years since, Symensma has used ChoLon as a way to educate and challenge diners on the topic of modern Southeast Asian cuisine. He has won us over with intensely colorful, vibrant, and thrilling dishes that pull insight and inspiration from near and far. Take the tandoori lamb chops with caramelized yogurt and biryani, or the okonomiyaki-esque dancing scallops with a sweet corn pancake and bonito flakes that ripple in the steam. Symensma’s dishes function as a microcosm of the chef himself: Colorado flair combined with far-flung influences.”

5280 Magazine – Denver’s 25 Best Restaurants 2016

5280 Magazine - 25 Best Restaurants 2015

“Lon Symensma, ChoLon’s executive chef and co-owner, doesn’t want to color within the lines. His food is fragrant with the exotic spices of Southeast Asia, and you’ll detect influences from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and even China. Symensma channels the region’s robust cuisines to dream up dishes all his own. Recent menus, though, indicate a subtle nod to the West: a heavenly green curry béarnaise sauce drapes Colorado wagyu beef; Chinese black vinegar offsets a salad of strawberries, mizuna, and futuristic goat cheese spheres. Even if Symensma is tweaking the ChoLon formula slightly, there’s no doubt he continues to be a whiz at bringing texture, color, and dazzling, exotic flavors to his diners.”

5280 Magazine – 25 Best Restaurants 2015

What to Order at the Best Restaurants in Denver

“While chef Lon Symensma’s reverence to innovative Asian cuisine hits all the right notes, ChoLon’s beautiful soup dumplings, their wiggly-jiggly centers an eruption of sweet onions, steaming juice and melted Gruyère, may be the best single bite in the Mile High City.”

What to Order at the Best Restaurants in Denver

 

5280 Magazine - 25 Best Restaurants 2014

“To experience ChoLon is to see—and taste—a kitchen in constant motion. Executive chef and co-owner Lon Symensma’s flavors stay true to Southeast Asia’s quintessential hot, sour, salty, sweet, and herbaceous notes, but he continuously pushes the cuisine in new and wildly creative directions. Take a recent dish of grilled calamari, avocado, heirloom tomatoes, and lemongrass dressing. The simple combination hardly sounds like ChoLon—until you take a bite and the flavors and textures come together to reflect the region. This is classic Symensma: Every thought-out ingredient not only meshes with the next, but it’s also part of a modern story of a far-away place. At ChoLon, you’re guaranteed a dining experience that is surprising and delightful—and ever-evolving.”

5280 Magazine – 25 Best Restaurants 2014

5280 Magazine - 25 Best Restaurants 2013

“Mention ChoLon to a group of friends and someone will instantly reference the soup dumplings. Intended or not, chef Lon Symensma has staked his reputation—and ChoLon’s—on those beautifully wrapped pockets of sweet onion soup and Gruyère cheese. But to only know ChoLon by the dumplings would be an oversight. The pork belly buns are a fully evolved street snack, with artistic dollops of hoisin and unctuous slabs of pork belly slathered with sesame-honey glaze. The steamed buns themselves are doughy, chewy—perfect. Likewise, the Singapore chicken rice will entice you with shreds of poached chicken, tangles of cooling cucumber steeped in the aroma of coconuty-citrusy pandan leaves, and a bowl of fiery sambal for mixing in. Simplicity is not in Symensma’s vocabulary as he applies layer after layer of flavor and technique to balance sweet and savory, hot and cool, Old World and New—to enchanting effect.”

5280 Magazine – 25 Best Restaurants 2013

Westword Top of the Town - Best Chef

“If the kitchen is a stage, then Lon Symensma, chef-owner of ChoLon, is its undisputed star. He exudes extraordinary verve and charisma behind — and beyond — the line, and there’s no end to his experimental innovation and bedazzling flavors and textures. But even more important is his endless pursuit of perfection, evident in every dish he creates, plates and tastes before it’s whisked from the kitchen. He leaves absolutely nothing to chance, cooking with precision and finesse, standing guard over his troops and exposing his soul in every sauce, glaze, skewer, dumpling, potsticker and egg cloud that touches your lips. This is the kind of restaurant — and Symensma is the kind of chef — that makes you want to drop everything you’re doing and just surrender to delicious temptation.”

Westword Top of the Town – Best Chef

Westword Top of the Town - Best Overall Wine List

“Nothing’s worse than getting all fired up for a decadent, wine-soaked meal, only to discover that the restaurant’s wine list is a total snooze. That’s why we woke up and took notice last fall when ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro opened. The array of sixty-plus modern selections (including eight sake offerings) might make you scratch your head initially (Côtes-du-Rhône? Chilean sauvignon gris?). But chef Lon Symensma and his wine director, Chris Todd, make sure that each wine on the list is a perfect foil for one of ChoLon’s tongue-tingling flavor combinations. The only thing that makes fans of both food and the grape happier than a stellar wine-and-dine experience is a stellar wine-and-dine experience at decent prices, and at ChoLon, you can score a kickass bottle for an average price of $48. We’ll drink to that.”

Westword Top of the Town – Best Overall Wine List