Stylish burger place debuts in Boulder in a real burger ‘hood
Drake’s Haus, a sleek new burger place, opens today just east of the Baseline Road off-ramp from US 36/Boulder Turnpike. It creates a triangulation of burger opportunities that couldn’t be more different. Denver’s Semple Brown Design came up with a look of upscale Euro-industrial chic for Drake’s Haus. With a long-running McDonald’s and the Dark Horse, a classic college-town dive, as its immediate neighbors, Drake’s is easily the most stylish and grown-up place around. Guests at an first-floor table can gaze through the large east windows see Mickey D’s and a sign pointing to the Dark Horse, just to the south — and ironically sharing the same initials with the new kid on the burger block.
Drake’s Haus is a fast-casual eatery downstairs (order at the counter, get a number and wait for your food to be delivered; small bar in the back, a fountain drink dispenser for the family trade) and hip lounge upstairs (congenial mezzanine bar and a gorgeous terrace outside with full table service). For those who can’t or don’t want to climb the stairs, there’s even a stylish elevator.
Sleek and chic Drake’s Haus out-styles other fast-casual restaurants.
The nice thick burgers are made of beef from a Utah ranch with a splash of Merlot mixed in with the meat, but the wine is a subtle addition. They are bigger than sliders but smaller than regular burgers. They are named after regions of the world where wine is made from Merlot grapes (South America, California, Italy, Oregon and France), plus a couple of meatless burgers and some other small items too.
This Merlot burger, Italian-inspired, includes fresh mozzarella, roasted red pepper, basil pesto and field greens.
The California version comes with avocado, a mess of sprouts and sun-dried tomato cream cheese.
Neatly arranged house salad with dressing on the side.
Oregon burger (Tillamook sharp cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions, tomato and lettuce). On the side, a bag of Fiesta Fries that are hand-cut and sprinkled with sea salt, spices and fresh cilantro.
Two skewers, one with chicken and the other Linguica, a spicy pork sausage of Portuguese origin.
Who Is This Drake Guy Anyway?
Caricature of Drake Clark is the Drake’s Haus logo. His beard is even fuller now.
It is curious that the owners/partners selected liberal Boulder for the first Drake’s Haus location, but not surprising that they wish to keep a low profile. Drake Clark, whose bearded, bespeckled mountain-man visage serves as the restaurant logo, is or was a top sales guy at controversial Magpul Industries, the weapons company that threatened to leave Colorado if any kind of gun control measures were passed.
The Drake’s Haus partnership includes Magpul Industries founder and president Richard M. Fitzpatrick and Jamie Hanson, also associated with the firm. She and Fitzpatrick are personal as well as business partners. Kimber Hollar, a former Montana social worker, rounds out the partnership team. She’s the foodie in the bunch and developed the Merlot burger when she was preparing burgers for a cookout and added some red wine that she did not consider worthy of drinking. The wine provides a subtle je ne sais quoi to the Drake’s Haus burgers. For some progressive Boulderites, the ownership will make or break their willingness to eat there. For others. the burger’s the only thing that matters.
Price check: Merlot burgers and sandwiches, $4.25-$4.50; small plates, $5.50; fries, $1.80-$2; dessert, $3. Prices are moderate and food, but the bar bill might put the budget over the top. The glass of Merlot that I wanted with my Merlot burger was $9.