Samples World Bistro has been on my radar screen since I learned about its international cuisine. More importantly, I was impressed when I read a piece in the local paper about its self-imposed mandate of employing people with physical or developmental disabilities in “real” jobs — not in isolated sheltered situations. I admired that, but I also really like its Main Street location, since I far prefer real downtowns to new developments.
With all that, it still took what I now realize was too long to finally get there. After all, food and beer aficionados Mark and Carmen Sample opened it a couple of years ago. A Longmont friend suggesting meeting there for hapy hour on Friday. On the roof. For drinks and small plates and live music. On a mellow spring evening. Everything went according to plan — except the mellow part. It was chilly and windy. We didn’t last as long as we’d anticipated. But the food was good, the music listenable (and not too loud) and the company terrific. We shared some plates but ordered others individually.
Price check: At happy hour, small plates, $2-$6. Also, $2 off draft beers and wines by the glass.
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 congenial, 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.
Casual atmosphere & first-rate fare in tiny mountain town.
Whenever I visit the greater Winter Park area, eating at the Tabernash Tavern is high on my list . This casual restaurant in a vintage building is loaded with more vintage it — such items as beer cans, jumping skis from the Olympics, fishing memorabilia and other eclectic items decorate the walls and ceilings. Both the bar area in front ad the dining room in back exude casual fun. Five of us went there for happy hour this evening — five different dishes, decent portions and a wonderful variety of styles and tastes. The menu will change tomorrow, so don’t expect to see this exact selection.
Each week features a different resort restaurant showcasing food, wine & spirits.
Keystone was Colorado’s first mountain resort to really emphasize its culinary side with interesting restaurants in the valley and up on the mountain. It long ago began hiring real chefs rather than short order cooks who were frying up burgers in exchange for free skiing. and began beefing up its kitchen staffs with real chefs and culinary school apprentices. As one of the early built-from-the-ground-up full-service resorts, it developed lodging and food and beverage facilities. The high bar Keystone set for itself continues.
Keystone Resort’s distinct signature restaurants are on display during this season’s Savor the Slopes, an upcoming multi-week rotating showcase featuring food, wine, beer and spirits. Each the host restaurant organizes its tasting event with its own unique theme that promises to be both informative and delicious. Award-winning, mountaintop locations, historical buildings and two distinct village settings host a combined 17 tasting events. All events begin at 4 p.m., so they are an excellent après-ski option. I love that several feature Colorado beer, wine and spirits. Resort guests might even want to ski off a little of the Savor the Slopes calories, while cay skiers can linger and avoid some of the eastbound I-70 traffic — of course, being very conservative adult beverages.
Each event costs $25 (a tab easily reached by ordering some beer and munchies during conventional après-ski. Reservations for individual Savor the Slopes tasting events are required, and can be made by calling 970-496-4386. Continue reading Keystone’s Upcoming Savor the Slopes→
Former Greenbriar chef tackles & tweaks “clean” food menu.
Zeal, a downtown Boulder restaurant catering to health-conscious food enthusiasts, opened November and developed a following from those allergic or averse to certain foods or food groups. Vegetarian? Zeal has many dishes for you, including sustainably harvested proteins of various kinds. Carnivore? They serve only pedigreed meats from grass-fed animals. Gluten-free? The only gluten is in the beer and the little spelt-flour bread that is served. Avoid processed foods or concerned about GMOs, pesticides and chemical fertilizers? Zeal is the restaurant for you. On the Paleo diet bandwagon? It’s easy at Zeal. Interested in the Conscious Cleanse? Jo Saalman and Julie Paleaz, authors of the bestselling book by the same name, are hosting a three-course, $39 Conscious Cleanse dinner at Zeal on November 11.
From the beginning, Zeal has used whole fresh ingredients, served as simple flavorful combinations. But like many a new restaurant, Zeal has experienced some growing pains. In addition to the service glitches common to new restaurants, there has been turnover in the kitchen. It is on its third chef in less than a year. Opening chef Arik Markus had left by June, and his successor, Sean Smith, was replaced about a month ago by Leslie White (that’s a he-Leslie), who has made a rapid shift from the butter-and-cream kitchen of The Greenbriar to the “clean” ingredients used at Zeal. I don’t know any details about these changes, except to speculate that since founder/owner Wayde Jester, a prototypical Boulder endurance athlete, comes from the real estate realm and though a cooking enthusiast, didn’t have restaurant experience, the owner/chef combination has taken a few tries.
Zeal hosted a group of foodies and food bloggers to sample a few of White’s creations, plus artisanal cocktails, other adult beverages and the sensational cold-pressed juices.
Zeal is participating in First Bite Boulder but has not yet posted its menu — perhaps to busy serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and recently added happy hour ($2 off beer, wine and spirits and $5 small plates). In addition to the popular bowls and sandwiches, Chef White is presenting more large and small plates and has brought dessert-making in-house. Zeal is pickling and fermenting in-house too (think kimchee and kombucha). During the warm months, the restaurant closed for two hours for Movement Mondays or Trailblazer Tuesdays so that staff and guests could go on a local hike. The concept might soon be transferred to a climbing gym or other indoor venue. And then there’s the Zeal food truck, which debuted at the Hanuman Yoga Festival and most likely dispatched to Uptown Denver, where Jester hopes to open a second restaurant. Stay tuned.
After a day on the slopes, I met some friends at the Steamboat Grand’s bar/restaurant called The Cabin. Everyone else just ordered a beer or a glass of wine, but I was hungry — and I knew that dinner was quite some time off.
Mac n Cheese Bites — a nice nibble with veggie matter alongside.
Price check: I ordered a glass or Merlot and Mac n Cheese bites, nicely presented, tasty and filling enough to hold me. At happy hour pricing, this came to $8.26, including taxes. No extra charge for the pleasant ambiance.
When I’ve had dinner at Oceanaire before seeing a show at the nearby Denver Performing Arts Center, the portions have been too big and, frankly, the prices too high when added to theater tickets and increasingly expensive parking. Yesterday evening, I spotted a chalkboard sign on the sidewalk in front of t the restaurant entrance announcing, All Night Happy Hour. Bingo!
Happy hour specials are offered only at the bar — every night except Saturday. Given the value and the fresh seafood, the bar was unsurprisingly packed, but we grabbed two seats as soon as another party vacated them. The acoustics pleased and impress both me and my husband. As I wrote, the place was packed and lively conversations were rampant, but it was possible to hear each other without straining and speak without shouting. There’s something of an ocean liner ambiance to Oceanaire, which goes with the hear-and-be-heard aspect.
We had 45 minutes to curtain — no problem at all, even on a Friday night. I’ve read unfavorable diner reviews on social media sites, but our waiter was prompt and attentive, and oh, the welcome modest size of the bill. We’ll be back.
Price check: Happy hour small plates, $5-$7; draft beer. $4; wines by the glass, $5; specialty drinks, $6; specialty martinis, $7.
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.