Big Game…Not Your Mother’s Il Fornaio

Denver by the Slice had the privilege last night to attend a Preview Dinner at the Big Game Restaurant and Lounge, about to open in the former Il Fornaio space on Wazee. Preview dinners can be chaotic affairs, but this one was not. This group is organized, professional and efficient…and the food was very good. It will be weeks, or months, before the kitchen settles into the routine we should see on a regular basis, so let’s re-visit the food at a future time.

Although, if you have the chance, don’t miss the Watermelon and Ahi Tuna Ceviche! Special!

But, we can discuss the room and the space makeover itself. The space that sat vacant for many months is remembered fondly by many local residents. Many of us bought bread, sometimes every day, from the front bakery counter. Very good bread. We liked the light levels and the fireplace. The entire operation made you think you may not really be eating in a chain restaurant. It was an accessible, easy-to-use neighborhood place.

Now, the room is quite different. Same space, of course. Most of the same booth structure. Same bar placement and same kitchen area. But, different.

The bar area has been opened up, but still has the marble half-moon bar and at least one of the marble stand-ups. But it feels bigger without the various fixtures and decor that were there. And, there are TV’s. Several.

You enter the dining area through a “horn door”, the only remnants of wild game decor spotted. So don’t worry about the guilt that goes along with dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange.

The dining area has plenty of tables, but also plenty of soft leather chairs and low cocktail tables oriented toward the fireplace wall. The fireplace, though, is dwarfed by very large video screens taking up the entire wall. These are above the several smaller screens running the length of the wall below. And, back on the entrance wall, more large and small screens. You won’t miss a thing.

It is a different feel for this space, so much the same, yet not. Over the months we will see how the effort to have such a video impact blends with the effort to have a true gastronomic impact in LoDo. Watch to see how the Big Game plays out…but DO have the Ceviche!