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Chef Bo Porytko opening Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails on Jan. 18

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Chef Bo Porytko celebrated his birthday with a soft opening for his new Eastern European spot on Wednesday. But Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails, which opens to the public on Jan. 18 — and is one of Denver’s most anticipated restaurants of 2023 — feels more like a gift to diners.

An ode to Porytko’s Ukrainian heritage, the cozy, intimate eatery sucks you in from the chaos of East Colfax Avenue and makes you feel like you’re stepping into your Baba’s kitchen. The space puts the kitschy in Kitschen, as well, with plentiful cuckoo clocks and a wall decorated to look like a vinok, a traditional Ukrainian flower crown that has since become a symbol of peace during the war in Ukraine.

Porytko’s rustic cooking is why Denver diners have always been drawn to his food, first at Rebel Restaurant and then at Misfit Snack Bar. And you should expect nothing less of Molotov’s menu, which is made up of family-style meals.

For starters, there’s patychky, or a Ukrainian meat on a stick, which Porytko describes as an “after-church favorite,” or spelt pelmeni, small dumplings filled with smoked pork pate and topped with tarragon bearnaise and candied shallots. The mains list is small but hearty with four options. There’s a coulibiac, which is a traditional Russian salmon wellington, but Porytko presented it in a standing bowl with a puff pastry on top, much like a chicken pot pie. Or try the whole rabbit in a clay pot that’s sherry braised with creamed porcini mushrooms and fondant potatoes.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, the dessert menu offers a Ukrainian doughnut that’s as fluffy as a beignet and filled with lemon and lavender curd or a pistachio Neapolitan with brown butter ice cream and pistachio cream.

Wash it all down with a sip of horilka, a homemade Ukrainian vodka infused with honey and black currant, which goes down as smoothly as it sounds.

There are seven tables in the dining room (which can only be reserved on the restaurant’s website) something that diners might remember from the previous tenant at at 3333 E. Colfax, To the Wind Bistro, which closed last year. But there’s also an eight-seat chef’s counter for walk-in diners that surrounds the small kitchen and will soon have its own rotating chef’s menu.

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