The 10th annual First Bite Boulder again presents foodies with the delicious dilemma: which of 40 or so area restaurants to visit for a prix-fixe dinner. Five of us gathered yesterday evening at Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar in North Boulder. Wine? Of course. The menu? With a choice of two of four first courses, two of five main courses and two desserts, we just selected two of each course among the five of us. I like Bacco’s food a lot. My one wish is that it were less noisy.
Kelly Whitaker’s Basta and Cart-Driver celebrate Sockeye Week.
Chefs Collaborative, a group of influential chefs dedicated to promoting sustainable, natural food sources. The group has declared this to be Sockeye Restaurant Week through November 15. Restaurants and other businesses across the country are featuring wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska, on their menus. No, sockeye isn’t fresh in November, but it was flash-frozen and is just about as good.
Bristol Bay is the world’s largest sockeye fishery. Today, it is celebrated by no less that President Barack Obama, a supporter of Bristol Bay’s pristine nature, who took action to protect the ecosystem and the fishing community. His actions assure that it will remain a sustainable and productive fishery. Until then, there was a long and ugly threat from the proposed development of the Pebble Mine, a porphyry, copper, gold, and molybdenum operation that would have put Bristol Bay and its population of all five types of salmon at risk if the mine were developed and its waste containment were to fail. Think of the Gold King mine mess near Silverton last August and the far worse situation in Brazil right now, where two burst mining dams have already cost 28 lives, safe drinking water and numerous small villages. Imagine that crap spilling into Bristol Bay. Fortunately, the mine project didn’t come to pass, and now, let’s think about delicious salmon again.
Chefs Collaborative member Kelly Whitaker is hosting two sockeye specials at Cart-Driver (Denver) and Basta (Boulder). Cart-Driver is replacing its popular tuna mousse with sockeye mousse, and Basta is they are extending Sockeye Restaurant Week into First Bite Boulder with a sockeye special.
Spruce Farm & Fish in the Hotel Boulderado does a dynamite happy hour — A) because the prices are good and B) because it stretches from 5 to 7 p.m. — none of this 3 to 5 stuff. The atmosphere is also exceedingly pleasant, with a noise level that allows for pleasant conversation. The dishes are pared-down versions of what’s available at dinner, and I really like that.
Spruce Farm & Fish is located in the Hotel Boulderado, whose front entrance is at 2115 13th Street, Boulder. The side entrance is on Spruce Street, hence the name. The phone number is 303-442-4880.
The 40 or so restaurants participating in the 10th annual First Bite Boulder (November 13 to 21) now have their menus online, so if you haven’t yet done so, it’s time to nail down reservations. During this popular nine-day “week,” three-course dinners are $29 plus taxes and gratuities, with a handful offering an $18 menu.
Most restaurants in Boulder and nearby communities offer several choices for each of the courses. Also, by signing up for The Dish@ Dining Out with hot tips about Boulder dining, you’ll be entered into a drawing for dinner for two, offered through November 14. As we have for the past decade, we have our reservations. Wouldn’t miss it.
Cured has opened a second smaller shop just a few blocks from my house. Color me happy that exquisite charcuterie, excellent cheeses, unique imported and artisanal American grocery items and small assortment of mouth-watering sandwiches and salads are to be had less than a 10-minute walk from my door. Oh yes, and chocolate.
Will and Coral Frischkorn’s original Cured a few blocks east of the Pearl Street Mall has a greater selection, but proximity has its benefits. The shop is simple, pared-down and classy with quality finishes to its shelves, counters and islands as a suitable backdrop for the quality items.
Chef Bradford Heap’s seafood-centric restaurant’s clever touches.
I live close enough to downtown Boulder to have passed 1043 Pearl Street innumerable times as it transitioned from the ill-fated Pasta Vino in the old Juanita’s space to Wild Standard. The long process finally ended a few weeks ago. If you are looking for the restaurant, don’t expect to see the name on the sign. Easier to locate it by its neighbors, The Kitchen directly to the west and SALT just to the east. SALT and Wild Standard are both operated by chef/restaurateur Bradford Heap.
Heap’s wife, Carol Vitale, designed the contemporary restaurant and softened its edginess with heavy wood beams, attractive lighting and white-washed brick. There’s no coastal kitsch like lobster traps or bouys, but there is a seacoast vibe that makes sense, since it specializes in “global seafood.”
We went for happy hour, from 3 to 6 p.m. and just extended from the original 3 to 5 window. Even once it transitions to dinner, there’s no need for budget-watchers to order from the entrée list. The waitstaff trundles dim sum-inspired food carts and ferries trays to the tables so that guests can pick and choose from small plates with happy hour pricing-type and portions.
Boulder is home to a variety of vegan eateries, including Native Foods Café, which uses tempeh, seitan, and native chicken (made from free-range soy, wheat, and pea protein) for plant-based protein options. These are used to replace meat products in menu items like the Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger, nachos, and bacon and avocado club sandwich. Another local hotspot is Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, which has options like vegan French toast and a vegan crab cake sandwich.
Then again, the list brings out the skepticism in me when Las Vegas is also cited. Sure, there are couple of vegan options, but calling it a “great” city for those adhering to a plant-based diet is, IMO, wishful hyperbole on The Daily Meal’s part. As for Boulder, the writer appears to have picked the top two eateries from Yelp’s list of Boulder vegan restaurants and not gone any further.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.