Tag Archives: Boulder dining

All SPRUCEd Up at the Hotel Boulderado

The Hotel Boulderado is a Boulder institution, having hosted luminaries, tourists and others for over 100 years.
For many of those years – 21 to be exact – the main restaurant in the hotel was Q’s, owned by John Platt, who leased the space from Frank Day, the hotel’s owner.
John has moved on to own and operate Riff’s Urban Fare in Boulder – a more casual space, with the same high standards for food and service as could be found at Q’s.
The Boulderado team created Spruce in its place.
Named after the street on which the hotel sits, it’s a great name in and of itself.
They’ve carried this theme along in clever ways, starting with the exterior signage – a shield-shaped wooden sign that hangs to the left of the hotel’s forest green awnings [forest = coincidence!] – at the main entrance.
It continues with the menu.
Printed on paper, it’s attached by a thick rubber band to a wood board that’s been engraved at the bottom with the restaurant’s name in bold block letters, and below, in cursive, “farm & fish”.
I love a great menu presentation, and it really does set the tone of engagement with it.
As for the physical space, most of the floor is the original hexagon tile from 1909 and has a charm that captures you immediately.
They’ve added more booths [people LOVE booths], and upholstered them in fresh fabrics.
The light fixtures in the dining room are gorgeous globes – oversized to make a stunning impact – as well as shed good light.
It feels current, while still holding on to and respecting enough of the history of the space.
We were able to sample around the menu, and enjoy cornmeal crusted oysters, grilled Palisade peach on a bed of arugula with prosciutto chip and goat cheese, caprese arancini with basil aioli, crab cakes and roasted corn soup.
It’s a solid menu, and a great place to stop in for a quick bite at the bar, or a full meal.
Speaking of the bar, the bar area is fairly sized with a handful of tables for two, and the bar itself – where we sat all night, because we like to belly up to the action – is comfortable.
We had one of the signature cocktails to start – the Vespa – made with housemade lemonade, lavender simple syrup and muddled seasonal fruit.
On this night, the seasonal fruit was peach, and it was delightful.
It would be as good with any number of fruits, and I think this approach is smart, as committed as Boulder is to local and seasonal food / drinks.
We live in such a dominantly digital age, that the contrast of a landmark like the Boulderado, that has been diligently doing its thing for 105 years (!), is fun to experience, and in that contrast, brings its own kind of freshness.
I enjoy taking people there, and also recommending it to visitors, because I know they’ll get a good bite to eat, along with a taste of history.

bRUNch Launches in Boulder [they’re in Denver too!]

I don’t run, but I do brunch.
If you both run and brunch, then this is for you.
Alex at bRUNch feels that a great run is best rewarded with an amazing meal.
Each Sunday this social group meets for a training run at a local restaurant.
They offer five-kilometer and ten-kilometer runs every week and both are open to runners and walkers of all levels.
The fun continues back at the restaurant with the ultimate brunching experience and post-run chatting.
The Boulder group launched a few weeks ago at the Dushanbe Teahouse.
Tickets are $25. when purchased in advance and $30. at the door.
Your $25. includes run, entree, two drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), tax and gratuity [i.e. a steal!].

Upcoming June schedule is:
June 1 – Beehive Restaurant
June 8 – Radda Trattoria
June 15 – Zolo Grill
June 22 – Chautauqua Dining Hall
June 29 – FATE Brewing Company

Event tickets can be purchased online at http://brunchrunning.com/run-club/boulder

The Kitchen Family of Restaurants Celebrates Boulder Flagship’s Ten Year Anniversary in Coolest Way

On Sunday, March 16, The Kitchen, Next Door and Upstairs locations in both Boulder and Denver will celebrate the Boulder flagship – which turns ten in March – in a special way.
Because the whole group was built on the ethos of community, along with sustainability and health – that they wholeheartedly and wholeplatedly champion – they’re doing something cool.
Both Kitchen locations in Denver and Boulder, and Upstairs in Boulder will offer 3-course meals – from a special menu – of an appetizer, entrée and dessert for $10. [!]
At the Denver and Boulder Next Door locations, that same $10. gets two people an entrée and drink of choice each.
This extraordinary experience goes all day at every location, beginning at 11a.
As though it couldn’t get better, that $10. goes directly to their Learning Gardens Program, which operates under The Kitchen Community umbrella.
The Kitchen Community is the nonprofit arm of The Kitchen Family, established in 2011 by Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson – the founders, along with Jen Lewin – of The Kitchen.
The program plants gardens in local schools, which help children not only learn where their food comes from, but also helps them learn science.
These outdoor classrooms aim to reverse trends in childhood obesity and improve test scores – which are noble aims indeed.
Depending on the size of area the school can allocate, the gardens can range from 500 sf to as large as 3000 sf.
Because it’s a modular system, and easy to install, the school chooses how many planting beds they can accommodate.
The first Learning Garden [1800 sf] was installed at Schmitt Elementary in South Denver.
54 Learning Gardens were created and installed in the first year of the program, 2012, with 26 of those in Colorado, 16 in Chicago – where The Kitchen will be opening their next location – and another 12 at various schools across the country.
Another 166 were installed last year – with 100 of those, or a full 60% – in Chicago.
Those 100 were made possible by a generous $1 Million fund established by Chicago Mayor Emanuel.
Chicago Public Schools have become a focus as it’s the 3rd largest school district in the United States, which means the impact has fuller potential; Learning Gardens are currently at 1 in 4 elementary schools in that district.
I’ve already gathered a group and made a reservation at the Boulder location for lunch, and will probably visit a second location for dinner.
What the hell – make a day of it – and celebrate the impressive impact The Kitchen Family and The Kitchen Community have had already, as well as toast to their future.

Notable Boulder County Restaurants: A Timeline + Commentary

[Over 4 decades]
1967 The Greenbriar Inn
1971 The Flagstaff House
1981 The Boulder CORK*
1993 Q’s in the iconic Hotel Boulderado

[Just 1 decade]
2003 L’Atelier + Brasserie Ten Ten
2004 The Kitchen + Frasca
2005 Jill’s at the St. Julien + Colterra
2006 Sugarbeet + Black Cat
2009 SALT
2010 Oak at Fourteenth + Basta
2012 Bramble & Hare
2013 Volta

Of the notable restaurants still open in Boulder County, in the late 60’s and 70’s, The Greenbriar Inn [1967] and The Flagstaff House [1971], were the fine dining options.
The Boulder CORK joined next [1981], adding a new alternative in that decade, and Q’s in the iconic Hotel Boulderado [1993], in that one.
Other restaurants came and went during that time, and in the time since, but with a focus on those still operating, these 4 opened in as many decades.
In the 10 years between 2003 through 2013, a new, thrilling crop of 13 joined the Boulder County restaurant scene – 12 of them independents.
Of these 17 total, 14 of them are in Boulder proper.
A world-class city has excellence in spades – from its aesthetic value and public transport options to its cultural opportunities.
Wonderful restaurants are cultural opportunities, as much as going to see an elite dance troupe performance or hear a Philharmonic play.
A great city also has a good feeling about it – it welcomes, energizes, excites.
A place can only be as welcoming, energizing and exciting as the people who populate it and those who choose to bring businesses to life there.
Here’s to the restaurateurs who take the risks that must be taken, to bring us so many exciting options to experience the culture – especially the food culture – of our incredible area.

*Operated as part of Cork ‘n Cleaver franchise from 1969, until they became current iteration – their own independent concept, Boulder CORK – in 1981.

A special nod to both Laudisio – a Boulder institution for over 25 years – and John’s – who provided food love to the community for a decade – both of which closed last year.
You also can’t talk about Boulder dining in general, without mentioning Dave Query’s Big Red F group, which has done more for solid, casual dining in Boulder than anyone [Jax – the first location, Boulder’s, opened in the early 90’s and in 2013 a 4th Colorado Jax opened in Cherry Creek – could be considered upscale dining; the line is very thin in Boulder, where even more seemingly laid back places, can be thought of as upscale in this casual town].