Boulder’s Frasca an heir to what Thomas Keller’s restaurants once were.
Like many foodies — even a low-key one like me whose only snobbism is that I won’t go to big national chain restaurants — I always had a secret wish to dine at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville, CA, or Per Se, his over-the-top restaurant in New York,
Pete Wells, the New York Times dining critic, has experienced the cuisine and service at Per Se on an expense account, of course, and still he found the restaurant lacking and demoted it from four to two stars. His review is scathing and the comments enlightening because they reflect the thoughts both of people who have dined there and those who are appalled by the price and would never spend that much.
This review is obliquely germane to Colorado. Celeb chef Thomas Keller has often appeared at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, about which he says, “The Classic is in a class by itself. You can’t compare it to other culinary events. This is it. This is the superstar. This is the place to come.”
But beyond that, Frasca Food & Wine, the highly honored Friulian restaurant that more than any other has put Boulder American culinary map has its roots in Keller’s world. Frasca is owned by chef Lachlan McKinnon-Patterson and Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, who met while working at the French Laundry in its heyday as the country’s best, and then came to Colorado to open their own fine dining restaurant.
We go there now and again for special occasions. The food has always been exceptional, and the service flawless — at least when Bobby Stuckey is in command of the dining room. We went there once for my birthday when he wasn’t in the room, and I felt a bit of the surprise that Peter Wells did at Per Se.
Most of the tables at Frasca are set with elegant crisp white linens. The two flanking the kitchen door were bare, and instead of comfortable chairs, seating was on a curved banquette. We were seated at one and at the other was a VERY LOUD party of five. The man at the end of the banquette was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. One of his butt cheeks hung over the end of the bench, so he stuck out his hairy leg to keep from sliding off. They spoke at a volume usually reserved for sports bars. Other than placing us or them in such proximity, none of this is Frasca’s fault — but it did nothing to enhance the enjoyment of the evening.
What did surprise me was that we did not receive the customary Tajut, a small glass of apéritif wine. Had the restaurant stopped presenting this to every diner? I don’t know, and I was too distracted by the obnoxious group to our left to ask. We’ll be back for another birthday or anniversary or other occasion, and when reserving, I’ll make sure to ask whether Bobby Stuckey is on the floor that evening.