This month, Pearl District restaurant Arden is celebrating its fifth year in business two ways: with a massive kitchen upgrade and a special menu rollout that revisits some of its greatest hits.
Now, unless you sat at the counter and had a full view of the appliances, you likely never knew that this wine-driven spot had little to work with behind the scenes. That’s because chef Erik Van Kley has been consistently churning out top-notch food since joining the staff in 2019.
However, the kitchen was definitely under-equipped—until recently. Arden’s previous stovetop only had four burners with a 2-foot hood, smaller than most home ranges. It also lacked a grill, fryer or any other firepower. Renovations provided the space with an 8-foot hood along with six burners, a grill and a fryer underneath it.
Also missing until the makeover; a walk-in cooler. Everything that needed to be chilled was kept in just a few undercounter lowboy refrigerators, which meant there was not a lot of room for storage and prep had to be done from scratch every single day.
The renovation transformed an extra bathroom into a small walk-in (more of a step-in, Arden admits, but the staff is still thrilled), freeing up space in the kitchen to create an extra cook station.
Finishing touches include a fresh coat of paint to the dining room, new art local Aremy Stewart and new sound panels to dim the cacophony of dinner conversations.
What all of that should amount to is an even better customer experience. But don’t wait to test out the new kitchen equipment.
Throughout February, Arden is offering a special menu with past favorite dishes paired alongside wines chosen by owner-sommelier Kelsey Glasser. Offerings include the restaurant’s classics, like black truffle pierogis, butter-poached Mary’s Chicken for two and Erik’s famous housemade chorizo sausage. You’ll also find 2005 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, by the glass, all month long.
And as always, if you can’t decide, Van Kley can prepare the chef’s prix fixe—four courses for $70 per person with the option to add wine pairings for $45.