Udi’s daughter scores with a fast casual restaurant serving fresh, affordable food
Udi Bar-On is one of the Denver area’s premier bakers. His Udi’s breads rank among the best of local large-production bakeries, and five Udi’s namesake cafes are sprinkled around the metro area serving breakfast specialties plus salads and sandwiches at lunch — good, fresh fare, but hardly exotic.
Now Udi’s daughter Robin, a chef who spearheads the periodic vegetarian family dinners at Udi’s Bar & Cafe in Arvada, has branched out to Boulder. The family, including not just Udi himself but also Robin’s brother, Etai, opened the Pickled Lemon in space once occupied by collegiate clothier Kingsley & Co. in the shopping, eating and entertainment district called On The Hill, directly across Broadway from the University of Colorado’s main campus.
Robin reaches beyond these American standard breakfast and lunch items to dishes from her father’s native Israel for such well-loved Middle Eastern specialties as house-made hummus, shawarma, falafel, eggplant sabih, baba ganoush, pita bread and fresh salads. Seasonings are subtle, and guests can boost and customize flavors with a selection of toppings, sauces and items from the olive bar. The pita, is of course, Udi’s. Light and lovely, a bit of warming would improve it even more. I hope they do that when there’s not a special-event crowd to serve. The prices are extremely reasonable, a number of extras are free, and they even serve four tasty mixed drinks and beer for the over-21 crowd. I’m over 21, and I thought the Pickled Lemon margarita hit the spot on a hot evening.
When we went the other evening, the Pickled Lemon was crowded for a fundraiser for the Growe Foundation, which works to put vegetable gardens in local schoolyards. It is a cause dear to the family’s hearts, so Udi and his son Etai were also on hand. Because Growe involves schools, there were a lot of families and the kid-noise level was deafening. I trust that even when the place is filled with University of Colorado students, the decibels are considerably lower.
We were able to sample a number of dishes that were piled into black plastic to-go boxes, compartmentalized like bento boxes. The food was tasty, but the presentation was not very photogenic. so I didn’t photograph. I had hummus, chicked shawarma that is marinated in a customized 21-spice blend, Majadra rice (a Turkish specialty), Moroccan carrots, pomegranate tabbouli and marinated kale. My husband had the beef and lamb kabob, hummus, house salad, sumac onions and a few other tiny tastes.
Price check: Pita sandwiches, $5.95 & $6.25 including a salad; platters, $6.95 & $7.55, including rice or sweet potato fries; sides, $1.25-$4.25; sweets, $1.25-$3.65.