Rayback Collective accommodates trucks, beer hall, play space & more.
For 60 or so years, Rayback Plumbing occupied a long, deep lot on Valmont Avenue, just west of 28th Street in Boulder. After the owner, Marion Arthur Rayback, passed away in 2014 at the age of 92, the fate of this lot seemed briefly in limbo. It is refreshing that rather than another housing complex or some sort of a shopping center, it has been reborn as the Rayback Food Collective — a place near the center of Boulder for food trucks and more.
Then, an energetic young group of locals came up with the notion of a place off public streets where food trucks could assemble. They launched a Kickstarter campaign to create an outdoor area with food trucks, a stage and a shipping container housing a bar. As the funding came in, the concept gelled into the present Rayback Collective. What opened on Friday was The Marion, generous indoor space with more room for food, beer, music, (eventually) films and community. The plan is for year-round operations. Outdoors is the food truck area and a lawn for games and the welcome sight of lush green grass — at least for the time being.
My husband and I went there for Sunday lunch right at opening time, which explains the emptiness.. Although there is space outdoors for four trucks, there were two (Farmer Girl from Longmont and Sweet Cow’s MooMobile ice cream truck), plus a pretzel cart. One truck canceled. The plan is for four different trucks during the day and in the evening every day, year-round. I hope they’ve thought out how to handle snow, because the ground is either grass or gravel.
Veteran food journalist to laser in on Denver/Boulder food scene.
Lori Midson, the smart, irreverent and very knowledgeable observer of and reporter on the local food scene, has a new gig: compiling two lists a week of the best of very narrow-focus “bests” in the greater Denver/Boulder metro area for Dining Out’s online feed.
The project is called The List, and it includes not just restaurants but also anything else of interest to diners, cooks and those who just want keep up on all things food-related. It launches on July 5, and I can’t wait to read it. If you are also interested, click here and sign up using the box on the upper right-hand corner of the page. She has let it be known that she is open to reader suggestions, so if you have some, E-mail email@example.com.
Last month, when my husband and I enjoyed the new brunch menu at Under the Sun (click here for my post), the buzz around the communal table was for Fried Chicken Wednesdays. The chicken was great, we heard. The lines built up, we were cautioned. We promised ourselves that we’d try it, and now we have, arriving shortly after 4 p.m. to avoid the wait.
We ordered Fried Chicken for One, with three pieces and one side, plus a couple of additional sides, which sufficed for us to share. My husband is a mashed potato addict, but when he learned that Under the Sun serves its without gravy, he made a comment and ordered biscuits and gravy instead. The waiter brought a complimentary order of gravy in case the mashed potatoes that they were not sufficiently rich and buttery to stand alone. In my view they were — happily so, since I don’t really care for country gravy. Here’s the array of comfort dishes that we ate:
Price check: On Fried Chicken Wednesdays, Fried Chicken for One (three pieces of chicken, choice of one side), $11.95; Fried Chicken for Two (six pieces of chicken, two sides), $20.95; Fried Chicken for Four (12 pieces of chicken, four sides), $38.95; Fried Chicken for Six (18 pieces of chicken, six sides); additional sides, $2 each.
627-A South Broadway (Table Mesa Shopping Center), Boulder; 303-927-6921.
Last September, my husband and I stopped at a small restaurant called LOCAL in Lyons en route home from Rocky Mountain National Park. As I wrote here, it was pleasant and the food was good. But for some reason — perhaps because there seemed to have been four or five people owning and/or running it. We all know the admonition about “too many cooks.”
The space is now named Farmer Girl, and one gifted person is in charge. Tim Payne, who ran Terroir on Longmont’s Main Street, is the chef at Farmer Girl, which calls itself a “community bistro.” The decorative touches are fewer, as are the communal tables. But it has the same congenial vibe. Its motto is “local, sustainable food with soul.” Coming up later this month is the first dinner at the Lyons Farmette, a local artisanal farm. The good news for restaurant, farm and the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission, for which it is a fundraiser, is that it is sold out.
Long-time friends from New Jersey were coming to Estes Park for a wedding, we agreed to meet in the middle for dinner, and that meant Lyons and Farmer Girl. The simple menu lists seven each of small and large plates, plus a nice wine selection and other beverages and a couple of desserts. These change with availability of ingredients.
Chef-driven menu elevates comfort food & pub fare.
The Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries has grown from a single microbrewery in downtown Boulder to a tight trio of locations that includes the popular Southern Sun in South Boulder’s Table Mesa Shopping Center and Denver’s Vine Street Pub. The South Boulder location is a two-fer, with the original pub (and large sunny patio) on the upper level and the newer and cleverly named Under the Sun below.
I’ve been to Mountain Sun any number of times and to Southern Sun’s upstairs brewpub for after-hike or after-ski refreshment and downstairs for happy hour. I didn’t even realize that Under the Sun served brunch, but 3½ years after it opened, Southern Sun has hired a real, classically trained executive chef, Nick Swanson. His credentials are sterling — Boulder’s Bácaro Venetian Taverna and PastaVino (both now gone), a stage at Michelin-starred Relais Villa D’Amelia in Italy’s Piemonte region. Then New York’s French Culinary Institute, graduating with honors. A resume sprinkled with glamour names in the food world: Chefs Fabbio Bocchi and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, cooking for big-name celebs (Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, Calvin Klein.
But enough dropped names. What counts here and now is his position as executive chef of Under the Sun, where he has moved toward seasonality and reasonable price points while putting out creative cheffy takes on classics. I’m not wild about most “comfort food,” but Samson’s spin has me rethinking my preconceptions, and a sampling of the new brunch dishes convinced me that he’s one of the best in town.
Full butcher shop and charcuterie maker now joins Boulder restaurant.
First there was the Blackbelly food truck. And a catering operation, plus a bar and restaurant. Soon a secluded patio on the south side of the building. Then a second, larger and more open patio on the north side. And now, a large shop focusing on meat, meat and more meat joins the rest. Before this. the chefs and the butchers were competing for space. Now, there are two kitchens, the original and the new one on the meat side, where breakfast and lunch are prepared.
Nate Singer, born and raised in Cody, WY, runs the butcher operation. His family’s steakhouse across from the rodeo grounds and his father’s passion for hunting were the “classroom” where he first learned butchery skills, overlaid with official courses resulting in various certifications. He heads the full-fledged butcher shop that sells meat that has been broken down from whole animals and cut on site. The crew also makes all manner or sausages and cures meat. Getting US Department of Agriculture approval for such an operation is no mean feat, and what they produced is spectacular. Media had the opportunity to taste some of the specialties.
1606 Conestoga Street (Blackbelly is just north of Araphoe Avenue), Boulder; Butcher Shop and Market [breakfast & lunch], 720-479-8296.
Fundraiser for I Have a Dream Foundation opens great local kitchens.
If you are thinking about building a home or remodeling the one you have and are looking for ideas, if you just enjoy visiting fabulous kitchens in terrific homes, or if you mainly want to support the I Have a Dream Foundation, don’t miss the 2016 Dream Kitchens Tour this weekend, Saturday, April 30. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 1, 12 noon to 4 p.m.
On the 2015 tour are 11 Boulder County homes — up from just six last year. Tickets good for either or both days are $20. Purchase at the I Have a Dream office (5390 Manhattan Drive, Suite 200, Boulder). Online purchases or tickets bought at any King Soopers carry a service charge. FoMoInfo, call 303-444-3636.
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.