Food Gets Fun at the Inventing Room
LIQUID NITROGEN REINVENTS DESSERT
At the Inventing Room, food is meant to be played with.
The Willy Wonka-inspired dessert shop aims to be Denver’s most whimsical dining experience. The Inventing Room’s LoDo storefront opened on Oct. 31 of last year and immediately began running through hundreds of gallons of its staple ingredient, liquid nitrogen, per week.
Though the eatery uses liquid nitrogen to deep freeze many different types of food simply for the aesthetic, smoky fun of it all, it also has pragmatic value: creating the creamiest possible frozen treats.
Ian Kleinman, owner and head nitro chef at the Inventing Room, explains the process as he crafts the food. “The nitrogen is negative 321 degrees, so we use it to make our own ice cream. The faster you freeze something, the smaller the ice crystals are, and the smoother the ice cream is,” Kleinman said.
When you walk into the Inventing Room, a sign asks guests to wait for the next available nitro chef, as watching the food being made is nearly as fun as eating it. A free serving of Cinnamon Chocolate Nitro Popcorn is provided to pass the time—as freezing cold as all of the other dishes, the opaque fog of the liquid nitrogen pours out of the mouths and noses of the popcorn’s consumers, as the true potential of the nitrogen isn’t realized until it makes contact with something warm.
The Really, Really Cold Cheetos ($4) come exactly as described. Cheetos Puffs, once nitro-treated, become little more than a toy: As low maintenance as they are to make, they’re one of the most popular items available because of the sheer volume of fog their airy structure can hold. The Cheetos flavor remains unchanged, but the texture becomes somehow more hollow, which makes for an eerily fun snack.
Though the Inventing Room seeks to defamiliarize common food items like popcorn and Cheetos, most of its menu is devoted to ice cream. To make the S’mores Ice Cream Sandwich ($6), a nitro chef freezes vanilla ice cream in real time, rolls it through graham cracker crumbles, and presses it between two decadent chocolate cookies. Once assembled, the sandwich is dipped into a pot of nitrogen—the resulting fog overflows the pot and shrouds the countertop like a quintessential witch’s cauldron.
Finally complete, the sandwich is served as impossibly creamy as advertised. The cookies remain soft throughout the process and complement the ice cream’s vanilla flavor with multiple varieties of chocolate.
The Root Beer Float with Exploding Whipped Cream ($4) boasts a name more exciting than the product. There isn’t much to be done in the way of reimagining an ice cream float, but the Inventing Room tries its hardest: Whipped cream is sprayed directly into the nitrogen pot and freezes in the shape of popcorn before being used to top the drink. The freezing process gives the whipped cream a more robust flavor than it has in its original form; it snaps and pops in its pile atop the root beer.
Boasting unparallelled food, fun, and heartfull decor—the walls of are lined with pipes and gears harvested from Kleinman’s grandfather’s farm—the Inventing Room is a uniquely delightful experience, and Denver is lucky to harbor this local gem.
photo courtesy of Westword