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Fine dining comes to familiar Denver restaurant

Lake Cottage Restaurant and Catering, formerly Westlake Restaurant, reopened Thursday with a new name, several new menu offerings and a new chef. Chef Jeanette Barbagli (left photo) stirs homemade Italian sauce in the kitchen. Barbagli, a Lincoln County native, has 24 years experience in the food industry and has spent the last nine years working for a Denver caterer. Also new to the restaurant is the change over in the dining room (right photo) from a nautical motif to one of finer dining, with new table cloths, curtains, and small plants hanging on the walls. Jon Mayhew / LTN Photo

A familiar face among the Denver restaurant community has undergone a major facelift.
Starting Thursday, Westlake Restaurant reopened as Lake Cottage Restaurant and Catering.
Among the changes made include owners Renee Ng and James Beam bringing on board experienced caterer Jeanette Barbagli.
A caterer with 24 years of food experience – nine of those at a major Denver caterer, Barbagli said the idea for her to become chef at the Lake Cottage developed as a result of a conversation with Ng over lunch one day.
“We started talking about ways to make the business better,” said Ng.
One idea the duo considered serving up was an increased catering business.
“We’ve done little things before, but never anything major,” said Ng.
The catering idea caused a light bulb to go off in Barbagli’s mind.
“I knew I wanted to work with Renee,” said Barbagli. “I’ve always had a desire to run my own restaurant.”
She cited the need to accomplish new goals as a major new option for her.
The first sign that things have changed at the restaurant is the sign itself.
As for the new restaurant name?
“I thought it would help us make a fresh start,” said co-owner James Beam. “Westlake was kind of old and Lake Cottage reflects finer dining.”
Yet another change is in the dining room’s appearance. Gone is the nautical motif, replaced with something more in keepig with the restaurant’s new direction.
“We’re going to more of the classical motif to reflect the new menu offerings and to try and reach a new clientele of people,” said Barbagli.
While many of the menu items will remain the same some new dinner offerings will be added, including prime rib with homemade horseradish sauce; homemade desserts; including cakes and pies available by the slice or whole; and spring mix salads.
One of those offerings, according to Barbagli, is a lasagna with homemade sauce and fresh herbs and spices.
“I’ve been married into an Italian family for 18 years,” said Barbagli. “The fresh basil makes the difference in the sauce.”
One of her other specialties in the kitchen is anything chicken.
“It’s a popular meat, next to pork,” said Barbagli.
Some menu items, according to Ng, will not change.
“We’re still doing all-you-can-eat seafood on Friday,” she said. “We’re adding more upscale dishes as well.”
Prices will now range from $5.95 – $15.
According to the duo, changes were in order.
Two final changes include adding Wednesday as a day of operation, plus going completely smoke-free.
While all this new direction can make one’s head spin, what’s going to be hard for Barbagli — starting Thursday — is learning what impact will occur following the grand opening.
“From knowing what the public wants to food preparation and service, it’s going to be hard to stay in the kitchen,” she said. “I want to see everything go well.”

Lake Cottage Restaurant and Catering is open from 6 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 6 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information on Lake Cottage, call (704) 483-9633.
by Jon Mayhew

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