There is an inherent mystique surrounding the crow. Some believe crows were present during the earliest time of Earth, looking around and watching, waiting for things to take shape. To the Founder of the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, Pat McGaughran, crows represent a keeper of knowledge and understanding, traveling in groups and occasionally causing mischief. At Black Crow, the Rio’s existing on-premise food trailer located adjacent to its LoDo restaurant (1525 Blake Street), the attributes of the crow are being further amplified.
“Its been said that if a crow flies into your life, get out of your nest and look beyond your field of sight. In other words – live a little,” says McGaughran. “We’ve taken that metaphor and given our existing Black Crow concept an update that better encapsulates this spirit.”
This inspiration led McGaughran and his team to reinvent Black Crow into an urban campground. Black Crow will reopen on May 1 with a new menu, chef and setting.
“A campground is a special place that provides time for slowing down, laughter and memories made around a fire. To that end, we want Black Crow to become an oasis: a true outdoor dining and cocktail camp that just happens to be located in the middle of the city,” says McGaughran.
The Rio has adopted the campground setting with gas-powered fire pits, vintage camp chairs and wood log seats, shade sails that clear the field of sight, camp lanterns strewn about and torches lining the entry. Black Crow is adding to its existing collection of games (the crow is a trickster, after all) with Washers, Cards Against Humanity, Giant Jenga and Chandelier Corn Hole.
The campfire provided further menu inspiration, thinking of eclectic shared plates inspired by favorite outdoor dining experiences. The new menu, which will evolve based on seasonality and the Chef’s whim, is broken into Shared and Large plates and Sweets, and includes a smattering of game dishes, showcasing seasonal Colorado cuisine.
Shared plates range in price from $6 - $13 and include Smoked Trout Corn Dog, Coriander Crusted Shrimp Salad, Colorado Lamb Sliders and Chipotle Pheasant Sopes. Large plates range from $16 - $20 and include Venison T-Bone, Wild Fire Field Pheasant, Pepita-Seared Colorado Trout and Colorado Lamb Bolognese. Sweets include the requisite Campfire S’mores.
The drink list is equally innovative, with specialty cocktails like the Ward Eight with Tincup American Whiskey, lemon juice and house-made grenadine, Pineapple Daisy with Herradura reposado tequila and pineapple champagne shrub, and Pepper Tree with Silver Tree vodka, muddled peppers and lime juice. Several beers on draft and available by the bottle or can, and wines by the glass round out the menu.
Black Crow is being helmed by Matt Drije, a new addition to the Rio culinary team. Originally, from Iowa, Drije graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and made his way to California shortly thereafter. He served as Chef at Google’s Mountain View campus, working at its Café American Table and Café 150, which utilized all seasonal and local products found within 150 miles of the café. After five years in California, Drije moved back to Iowa for a short stint, then moved to Colorado. Most recently, he worked at Opus & Aria and Tamayo.
“I love Colorado for its adventurous spirit and amazing outdoor playgrounds,” says McGaughran. “Now Black Crow is bringing that spirit with its outdoor campground and Colorado camp-inspired menu to the city. We celebrate the mystery of the Crow and what it means to look beyond our field of sight.”
Similarly, Black Crow will easily compliment what the Rio offers next door. Guests may enjoy the Rio for dinner and enter Black Crow for another experience. Or, come on different nights and have completely unique experiences all together. The new Black Crow moves into a more unexpected scene with focus on fine crafted food and cocktails served in an elegant campground setting.
The Rio Grande is a 27 year-old Colorado restaurant with six locations along the Front Range, including Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, Greeley, Park Meadows and Steamboat Springs – each having an experience all of its own. Known for its legendary Rio margarita that has a limit of three, scratch Mexican food, and an unrivaled patio scene, the Rio is one of the area’s most famous establishments.
Black Crow is open Tuesday – Sunday from 4pm – 11pm and closed on Monday.