Tag Archives: Boulder restaurants

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.

I Can’t Get Enough of Basta

Basta means enough in Italian.
But, I can never seem to get enough of Basta.
I was there recently for dinner and here was the lineup:
A beautiful Grenache from Epiphany Cellars
Grilled vegetable salad
Peppers pizza
Cauliflower gratin
Wood fired lasagna
Doughnuts and campfire vanilla ice cream

The grilled vegetable salad is one of their star items, no question. 
Its combination of textures and flavors from the wonderful variety in it – crunchy radicchio, tender potatoes, soft mushrooms, flavorful field greens and the grilled croutons – oh, the croutons! – combine for a true treat.
The Peppers pizza, though its name is a misnomer, because there are no peppers on it, is more like a margherita with prosciutto.
This is a no brainer in terms of taste, and with the added wood-fired flavor in the crust and giving the toppings that extra something, it’s delicious.
The cauliflower gratin was a special on the evening we went – cauliflower mixed with a variety of cheeses, topped with breadcrumbs, then baked in a cast iron skillet – the answer had to be yes, when we saw it handwritten on the menu.
Wood-fired lasagna is a fun departure from lasagna cooked in a traditional oven. 
It’s the taste of the screaming hot open flames, but I can also taste the love.
Their housemade ricotta doughnuts are a sweet way to end the meal, and angels should sing when they deliver the campfire vanilla ice cream to the table.
Eating that is a truly holy experience.
The food is the most exciting thing happening here, but the service is wonderful too.
The staff is informed, but not overbearing and will answer any questions you have, or offer suggestions. 
Owned by Chef Kelly Whitaker, his wife Erika, and their partner, Allen, this is a trio that genuinely cares about the quality of the experience they offer to the community.
You can feel the warmth there, and that comes from so much more than the oven.