I wanted to stretch my legs on the drizzly day of errands, so I walked from McGuckin’s to REI. Boulderites will know my route. As I passed the shuttered Volta Restaurant, I rued its loss, but it did put me the mood for Greek food. I recalled a little Greek place in a nearby strip mall. Our errands completed, my husband and I headed for the Kalita Grill Greek Café. Good decision.
This is an order a-the-counter place. While it is not a hip open kitchen, the whistle-clean kitchen is visible as you wait to order. Hot food is delivered to the table hot; salads are cold; desserts are room temperature. I don’t know whether every single phyllo thing is made in-house, but everything we had was fresh and tasty — and the portions were generous.
If I have one criticism of this wonderful, reasonably priced café, it is the music selection. Greek tunes would be far better than the elevator music-style light jazz — just for the ambiance.
Price check: Soups, $3.50 for a cup, $3.99 for a bowl; gyro sandwiches and shawarma warps, $6.50-$8.50 (plus $2.99 for coma with fries, salad or soup and soda); salads, $8.50-$10.50; plates, $8.99-$12.99; sides, $1.50-$5.99; desserts, $3.25-$3.99.
Zomato has not yet discovered Kalita, which is in at 2426 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder; 303-443-0596. It is in the row of businesses between JoAnn’s Fabrics and Doug’s Day Diner.
Boulder is about to lose a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant.
My jaw dropped in sadness and in surprise when I learned that owners Jon and Eleni Deering, owners of Volta, are closing the restaurant and planning to move to Portland, Oregon. Sunday, March 29 is the last day, ending with a farewell taverna dinner where the tears will surely flow along with the wine. The couple put their hearts and their passion into this terrific restaurant located at Canyon and Folsom next to McGuckin’s. The location, it turns out, was too challenging. Downtown, the couple feels, would have made a world of difference. This is actually surprising, since people tend to complain about the lack of parking in downtown Boulder, and the McGuckin’s lot provided ample parking.
I’ve been there a number of times, mostly for happy hour in the restaurant with modern art on the walls or on the enchanting patio. I also had two fabulous multi-course dinners there: once with a group of food bloggers not long after it opened (click here) and just last October when it celebrated its first anniversary with a special menu (click here). Sadly, there will not6 be a second anniversary. My husband and I went to Volta this evening, again enjoying the tapas menu at happy hour where we made farewell toast and ordered favorites from the small plates menu — for the last time.
Price check: At happy hour (which Volta calls “tapas hour,” small plates range from $1 to $10.
Best wishes to the Deerings for the next chapter in their lives. Lucky Portland!
Special dinner at Boulder restaurant with Mediterranean roots .
Yesterday Volta Mediterranean Restaurant celebrated its first anniversary with a special four-course dinner, plus suggested wine pairings. It was called the Harvest Menu, not the anniversary menu, but it was served only that one evening. Two of the courses contained pumpkin, underscoring the harvest part, but Greek accents abounded too. I first ate at Volta last December when a group of local food bloggers met there. Click here for my post. Between then and now, my husband and have visited Greece, so I was excited about a meal that would not only acknowledge a local restaurant’s first major milestone but also recalled those days in a country I quickly learned to love. Here’s what was on last night’s menu:
Price check: The Harvest Menu, offered on one evening only, was $50, plus wines. Volta is participating in First Bite Boulder (November 14 to 22), with a three-course dinner just $27. That’s a real deal. Volta’s FBB menu features a choice of six appetizers, five entrées and three desserts.
Real Greek olive stand at the Boulder farmers’ market a delicious surprise.
Along with the expected seasonal apples, pears, pumpkins and other local produce, today’s Boulder County Farmers’ Market brought something of a surprise: a stand selling olives and olive oil. We’ve got lots of great produce, but there are no olive groves in this state. Olea Estates was selling brined olives, olive oil and a few other products from Greece. Most of the foods sold at the market is Colorado-grown or -raised, but there is an adjunct category of local food artisans and distributors, and that’s presumably where Olea Estates falls, I’m thinking, similar to Wild Alaska Salmon, which fishes for sockeye in Bristol Bay, flash freezes it for transport but cures and packs it here.
The Chronis family has been producing Olea since 1856 from olive groves in the valley of Sparta, Greece. They harvest, press and distribute from a single variety of olives, and as the website notes, “Nobody else interferes.” A few years ago, as the Chronis chronicle tells, it was costing the family almost twice as much to produce their organic olive oil as the wholesale price would bring. Most farmers were making a profit only from selling olives and were press the ones they could not into olive oil and cut their losses. Single rather than multiple pickings at the right time saved costs, and use of fertilizers and insecticides increased. The Chronis family did not compromise their standards in that way, and in 2009, George and Demosthenis Chronis started Olea Estates to bring their quality products to the American market.
Jake Burgart, a distributor, is located in Colorado. It was he who manned the table at the farmers’ market (and does so at other food events around the state) and sold us some of the best olives I’ve ever had. We asked about pitted olives, and Jake said Olea Estates doesn’t carry them, because the inside softens too much when the pit has been removed.
Of course, I had to find out more about these wonderful olives. The variety is Kalamon, which a Greek products website describes as “considered as a superior variety of edible olives which thrives in an arid environment with dry and low moisture soil in order the fruits to grow. It is cultivated in the areas of Messinia (formerly known as Kalamata) and Lakonia (known as Sparta) can also be found in the region of Agrinion in Greece. The Kalamon fruits usually ripen during mid-November to early January which is the late fall to midwinter.”
If you’re going to any of the following Front Range events, look for Olea there too: November 7-9, Colorado Country Gift Show, Denver; November 14-16: Colorado Springs Holiday Food and Gift Show; November 20-21, Denver International Wine Festival, Broomfield; December, 6-7, 2014 Holiday Market, Longmont; December 6-7, Sugar Plum Festival, Denver; December 21, Last Minute Gift Show, Longmont.
These two fine Boulder restaurants return, in one fashion of another, to their roots. Their foods have always flirted with the cuisines from north coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Now, they have respectively moved their menus westward and eastward.
This classy restaurant in the St. Julien Hotel has long hosted the Tuscan Table, an enticing weekday buffet lunch for just $12.50. A year and a half ago, when Laurent Mechin became executive chef, he shifted the dinner menu from Tuscan to French. See “Retro-Franco Fare Rules at Jill’s.” This week, the lunch shifts in the same culinary direction, with the new Ooh Là Là Lunch, a rotation of southern French specialties. These include tartines, an assortment of light flatbreads, gluten-free alternatives such as soccas made with chickpeas and olive oil, a pasta of the day, desserts and a complimentary glass of Rosé de Provence. Jill’s offers this lunch offered Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The price has bumped up a few cents to $12.95 per person, but it includes the wine.
When Volta opened last December, its menu had a defined Greek identity. See “Volta: Boulder’s New Greek Restaurant.” Over a few months, its menu became less specifically Greek and more Italian too. Between then and now, I’ve been to Greece, and found pasta, pizza and other Italian dishes on the menus of virtually every mid-priced restaurant, so this transition was not unauthentic. Still, Italian restaurants abound, while Greek ones are rarer. Whether due to customer comments or a simple desire on the part of Greek-born Eleni Deering, who with her husband Jon owns Volta, the couple has reintroduced more Greek dishes: a new Greek salad with pita chips added to classic ingredients, moussaka and bakaliros skordalia which they liken to Greek fish and chips. Several new classic Continental desserts are now available, but if I have room, I’ll stick to baklava.
Former Alba space has transitioned from Italian to Greek.
Alba Restaurant, one of Boulder’s prettiest eateries with perhaps the most enchanting of patios, served Mediterranean food from the Italian part of that magical sea. When Rick and Susan Stein handed the keys to Jon and Eleni Deering, they transitioned eastward to Greece, the country where Eleni was born, renaming the restaurant Volta. Jon is a gifted sommelier with all sorts of local front-of-the-house cred.
The transition was complete in October, but it’s taken me a couple of months to get there, thanks to a gathering of Boulder food bloggers. Volta is the first Greek restaurant in town that I can remember since Voula’s closed two decades or more ago. Now that this sun-kissed cuisine is back, I realize how much I’ve missed having it nearby. Volta is a clean-line, imaginatively lit space that showcases art on the walls. The kitchen, under Thomas d’Aquin the former chef at Axios Estiatorio in Denver, puts out fine, flavorful Greek and Greek-inspired dishes that are more locally sourced than Alba’s seem to have been. Here’s what we sampled:
The wines that Jon selected were the peer of the food — beautiful paired wines from Italy, France, California and Santorini. The last was Argyros Atlantis, an assertive blend made from grapes that I’m not familiar with it being the only Greek wine poured for us. What I’m now looking forward to is Volta’s planned Greek Sunday evenings when, beginning at 5 p.m., the restaurant will offer a classic Greek dinner, along with musicand merriment. Just don’t smash any of Volta’s plates.
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.