Comfort food takes a different form at award-winning Aurora Annette restaurant

“I’ve come to associate it with good food and partying. She was feisty,” Glover said.

This led Glover to love olives. It also prompted her to name her restaurant Aurora Annette after Netsie.

Annette is a gastropub located in the Stanley Marketplace, a building that once housed a former aircraft ejection seat factory. Annette is now an airy, vegetated space flooded with natural light. The open kitchen gives Glover the chance to interact with her customers as she prepares dishes she calls “table scraping” – like pork tenderloin, grilled beef tongue, succotash and pecan pie . Glover grows some of her ingredients in a greenhouse outside of Annette because, she admits, she is as passionate about farming as she is about cooking.

Nancy Lofholm/CPR News
Chicken Marengo from Chef Caroline Glover.

When Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner came to see Annette to tell Glover about her prestigious new award, she cooked up a special dish that wasn’t on Annette’s menu. She cooked Chicken Marengo, one of her mother’s signature dishes and one of the first dishes she ever learned to make.

Chicken Marengo is a dish with a deep history outside of the Glover family.

The mix of chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, and white wine harks back to the days — and the dinner table — of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was prepared for Bonaparte by a French chef while the French army was fighting in the small village of Marengo in northern Italy. It was the price of dinner on a day when Bonaparte’s army had significant success in battle, and it became one of Bonaparte’s favorite foods.

As Glover chopped, braised and cooked, she opened up about her past.

When Glover was growing up in Texas, her mother would put delicious home-cooked meals on the table for every breakfast and dinner, or the family would go out to fine restaurants where young Caroline’s appreciation for fine food was also honed.

Glover then graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and worked his way through restaurants from New York to Paonia. She interspersed restaurant cooking with work on farms in Pennsylvania, Carbondale and Paonia. His first stint as a chef in Denver was at Acorn, which was named Denver’s best restaurant in 2015, the year after Glover went to work there.

She branched out to start Annette and it was soon named Eater Denver’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year.

Chef Caroline Glover of Annette in Aurora prepares Chicken Marengo Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Annette was flying high when the pandemic forced Glover to go first; having a seizure, and secondly; find ways to adapt. She turned to takeout, gift cards and outdoor seating. She banded together with other restaurateurs and hired a lobbyist so restaurants could qualify for government funding as essential businesses.

Glover believes his actions during the pandemic had something to do with winning the James Beard award. She streamlined her menu and stopped doing brunches so Annette’s workers wouldn’t suffer as much burnout. She built a model where all of Annette’s hourly employees — from dishwashers to hosts — earn the same hourly wage and share all tips equally.

After preparing a midday meal for Ryan before the restaurant opened on a recent day, Glover agreed to share his mother’s Chicken Marengo recipe and Annette’s signature Netsie-style martini.

Bon appetit, buon appetito and buen provencho! They all apply while tasting the recipes of the James Beard Best Mountain Chef.

Annette Martini

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