503|W Open Kitchen + Craft Bar

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Change can be a good thing. It helps people and business from becoming stagnant. There’s an old saying, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” But does this apply to bars and restaurants, especially if you have a decades-old established brand in the community? Today we take a look at that question as we review 503|W Open Kitchen + Craft Bar, formerly the Dutch Mill Tavern.

In 2013, the Dutch Mill, a Colorado Springs institution, underwent a facelift and re-emerged as 503|W Open Kitchen + Craft Bar, an open kitchen and craft beer gastropub located just west of downtown Colorado Springs. The place gets its name from its address at 503 W. Colorado Ave. in Colorado Springs.

503|W Open Kitchen + Craft Bar Review

Gastropubs are still a fairly new concept, combining high-end drinks and craft beer selections with innovative food options. Colorado Springs is catching up to the trend, but there several gastropubs have popped up in the area the last couple of years.

Drinks

There are about a dozen taps at 503|W, with a Colorado emphasis and rotating selections. One can find selections from New Belgium, Left Hand and Odell, as well as out-of-state craft selections such as Firestone Walker. This is one of the few places Left Hand Good Juju can be found on tap in Colorado Springs. The staff is knowledgeable about selections, and 503|W is happy to provide a taster in case you’re unsure of your selection.

503|W concentrates on its beer selections, with wine and liquor serving as somewhat of an afterthought. Moscow mules and variations are served in copper mugs. As a rum drinker, I was disappointed there was no true Dark ‘N Stormy on the menu (Goslings dark rum and ginger beer). That’s an underlying problem in Colorado Springs; lack of rum options.

Food

Gone are the pub grub options from the old Dutch Mill. In their place are Korean-inspired options and new takes on burgers. In addition to burgers, salads, and appetizers, the menu features a “street food” portion that is populated by options meant to be held in a diner’s hand.

The fire cracker shrimp appetizer — with siracha, lime and spicy mayo — is attractively presented on a skewer. The kimchi burger is an interesting take on sandwiches. We were expecting kimchi on top of a beef patty, but we were surprised to find a patty actually made from kimchi. If you don’t mind a slightly grainy texture, the flavor will reward you.

My favorite menu item was by far the lucky belly sliders: pork belly, Korean salad, spicy sesame and fresh cilantro on steamed bao buns. If it’s pork belly, I’m sold, and this succulent dish delivered. I paired it with an Odell IPA, which I think complemented the salty, spicy and savory elements well. A similar pale ale or cider might also do the trick when eating the lucky belly sliders.

We have not tried the dessert at 503W, but the poached pear in moscato raspberry, agave and champagne peach sorbet has to be worth a try.

If you’re not into Asian selections, there are traditional salads, Buffalo wings and burgers; plus options such as salmon and flatiron steak.

Prices

The drink prices are on par with what you would expect anywhere else in the area. Full appetizers are priced from about $8-11; and entrees are very reasonable, ranging from $8-12.

Parking

Parking can be an issue on this busy street. There isn’t much to be had immediately surrounding 503W on Colorado Ave. The parking in the back of the gastropub leaves something to be desired as well.

Atmosphere

503|W features live music on most weekends and has regular beer and liquor-themed events. The restaurant area can get very crowded and is not large, but the dining area has a large garage-type door than opens to the outside when the weather is nice. There is limited patio seating at 503|W. The public has responded, as this gastropub is always busy during peak times.

Bottom line

503|W Open Kitchen + Craft Bar has taken a tired concept and turned it into something innovative and experimental. Give 503|W a try; you’ll probably find something you like – in beer and in food.

503|W on Facebook: 503W.co