Back in September Italian restaurant, Ernest Loves Agnes celebrated one year since its 2015 opening at 19th and Mercer. Shortly after hitting that milestone, new chef David Nichols stepped up to the stove and Veronika Groth recently took over the bar to bring new changes to the neighborhood eatery.
Nichols is expanding the restaurant’s Italian cuisine to include more Mediterranean flavors. “So we’re not just pigeon-holed to one specific thing,” Nichols said.
It opens up the menu to different herbs and spices, which Groth works to complement with her cocktails, connecting the kitchen and the bar. “Without having much time to collaborate these menus, it came together really cohesively, I think,” Nichols said.
Groth, who worked at Poppy and Lionhead until a couple weeks ago, has hacked off many items on the old cocktail menu as well, which previously featured a lot of classic, sweeter drinks. “I love to open new places and I love to go in and kind of revamp menus,” Groth said.
While Groth has kept a few cocktails from the old menu, the new menu aims to introduce people to different spirits they may not be familiar with. Right now Groth’s favorite cocktail on her menu is the Dutch and West made up of Vida Mezcal with kummel, turmeric and lime. “So it’s smoky, earthy, not incredibly sweet,” Groth said.
She also enjoys the Limone Dragoncello which combines Singani 63, a Bolivian spirit, with Cocchi Americano and lemon. It’s topped with tarragon foam, providing a layer sweetness. “I want to make things fun and unusual and I want people to ask questions. I think that’s the biggest part for me about the cocktail program,” Groth said.
Other popular ELA standbys remain. Pizza by the slice is still available during happy hour, weekdays from 4 to 6 PM, but it’s joined by lamb meatballs, albacore tartine, grilled merguez and other new offerings. Groth also plans to introduce a new happy hour cocktail with an “unusual spirit” each week.
The duo plans to keep things fresh with seasonal changes to the menu to keep staff and customers interested.
“It definitely feels like we’ve reopened a new restaurant,” Nichols said.
Ernest Loves Agnes is located at 600 19th Ave E. You can learn more at ernestlovesagnes.com.