Previewing Eric Skokan’s New Bramble & Hare

Eric Skokan’s new Boulder restaurant offers affordable eats & long hours.

This was my Eric Skokan weekend. On Saturday, his Black Cat Farm stand was my first stop at the Boulder County Farmers Market. and on Sunday, I previewed his new restaurant. At the market, I bought some greens plus a baby fennel from Eric, and he added a few sprigs of fresh basil for good measure. Elsewhere, I picked up sweet red peppers, zucchini and summer squash. That evening I chopped and sautéed all but the basil along with onions and garlic that I had in the fridge in olive oil with salt and pepper, served it on penne pasta topped with grated Parmesan and chopped basil. It was good, fresh and simple.

On Sunday, my husband and I were invited to a friends-and-family preview of the Bramble & Hare,  Eric’s whimsical and wonderful new restaurant next to and phsyically connected with his  Black Cat Farm to Table Bistro. Bramble & Hare is a really new concept (at least in this area). Restaurant chains have co-opted the word “concept” to describe a theme — something usually copied and re-conceived by a marketing committee, given a catchy name and not really a new idea at all. But Bramble & Hare really is a ground-breaker with its affordable everything-from-the-farm menu and playfully rustic, vintage decorative elements.

Touches included linen sacks stuffed with wool from Black Cat Farm’s sheep as banquette backrests, lovely old plates and flatware that don’t match, an old upright piano that someone might play and so forth. Hours will be from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next morning, making the Bramble & Hare the too-rare late-night restaurant in town.

Chalkboard specials over simply set tables and banquettes backed with cushions made by Jill Skokan.

But it’s really all about the food that changes daily and is presented on a menu that is a clever cross between a bill of lading and a sushi menu, with three daily specials posted on a chalkboard mounted on the back wall.

The small-plates menu available from lunch on resembles both a sushi menu and an old-fashioned bill of lading.

My husband and I started with Black Jack porter for him and Höpler white Pinot Blanc from Austria for me. We tried items both from the chalkboard and printed menus, and here’s what we ate.

Listed at “Oyster on fht Half Shell,” this small plate contained two sea-fresh mollusks, one with mignonette sauce and one with kimchee, East meets West.
Salad of mixed greens with roasted carrots, baby fennel and bing cheries.

 

Marinated Ricotta Salata is a disc of pressed and herb-marinated ricotta cheese topped with basil  and pistachio.
Grilled Les Freres, a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich made with a soft cheese, pancetta and leek.

 

Hot ham and cabbage sandwch with black garlic (black garlic!) aioli.

 

Chinese-inspired steam bu with a slightly lemony savory filling and a sprig of rosemary.
Super-tender, coffee-cured beef brisket with fresh herbs.
Thin and sturdy crust holds a tart made with foraged sour cherries.

Price check: Small plates, $3-$12 (most $5-$7); in the evening, Bramble & Hare serves a $29, three-course prix fixe dinner.
Bramble & Hare on Urbanspoon

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