Brewpub in Bayfield

011Bayfield, a small ranching community in southwestern Colorado, is becoming Durango-ized, with the influence of the cool college town spreading eastward. The unmistakable signs include a couple of cute and/or clever restaurants serving food that is of higher quality than, say, the usual country-town café. One is the Bottom Shelf Brewery, opened not all that long ago and already expanded with more tanks. They put out good pub food, and of all things, the cole slaw become a quick local fave. At lunch, it was quiet and uncrowded, though I understand that it is quite lively in the evening and when there’s a big game on the tube — especially considering Bayfield;’s ranch-town rep.

A heaping portion of the popular cole slaw.

A heaping portion of the popular cole slaw with a creamy malted lemon dressing.

Rich and filling mac and cheese, also portioned to share.

Rich and filling mac and cheese, also sized to share.

BSB dip, otherwise known as French dip, made with brisket.

BSB dip, otherwise known as French dip, made with brisket.

The menu says

The menu says “green salad,” but it’s so much more: seasonal lettuce, marinated tomato, cucumber & red onion topped with Parmesan, roasted seeds, sliced boiled egg and a choice of dressing.

Prices are modest, but they are not on the website and I didn’t take a menu. Sorry.

Bottom Shelf Brewery on Urbanspoon

Matushia Coming to Cherry Creek North

Acclaimed Japanese restaurant to open in Denver.

Matsuhisa-logoFirst Aspen, then Vail and next Denver. That’s been the trajectory that famed chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has taken in Colorado. Matsuhisa Cherry Creek will be a 7,800-square-foot restaurant at Steele Creek, which the developer describes as a “transformative” apartment and retail project at 1st Avenue and Steele Street in Denver. Steele Creek represents the best in Denver luxury apartment living. The 218-apartment mixed-use project boasts such amenities as a 24-hour concierge with premier resident services, a spectacular roof-deck pool and lounge, a fully appointed private entertainment lounge, a 24-hour fitness center and Matsuhisa with its world-renowned cuisine.

Matsuhisa Cherry Creek is expected to open at the end of 2015. The interior design will be handled by Denver- and Aspen-based Rowland + Broughton. Matsuhisa plans to service the roof deck pool atop the 12-story building. Residents will also be able to order food and drinks for their residences, as well as have Matsuhisa cater their events. And more prosaically, he restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. Born and raised in Saitama, Japan, chef Matsuhisa is a classically trained sushi chef who developed his inventive style when he opened a sushi bar in Peru. His career has been defined by finding new ways of incorporating different cultures, ingredients and styles into Japanese cuisine. He opened his first Matsuhisa restaurant in the United States in Beverly Hills in 1987, and it soon became a magnet for food lovers and celebrities.

Matsuhisa was chosen as one of the Top Ten Restaurant Destinations in the world by the New York Times in 1993. Some of chef  Matsuhisa’s personal honors from the culinary community include being named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine (1989), Southern California’s Rising Stars by Los Angeles Times Magazine (1998), induction into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation (2002), numerous nominations for Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), and being named One of the 11 Most Influential Chefs of the Decade by Madrid Fusion (2009).

New Cafe Slated for UniHill Building

Alpine Modern Café is design-master Lon McGowan’s new venture.

One of my favorite buildings in Boulder is the stone structure at the corner of 9th and College, across from Columbia Cemetery. It long housed Delilah’s Pretty Good Grocery and then a short-lived cooperative food store called The Second Kitchen (see image below). Now Lon McGowan, ace designer, owner of LON Little Shop in downtown Boulder and publisher of Alpine Modern magazine, has taken over the building and is turning it into the Alpine Modern Café, slated to open in May.

Expect to see a sleek, contemporary interior within the distinctive exterior. McGowan has hired Alex Baum, who previously opened the Wild Goose Meeting House in Colorado Springs, to manage the café. It plans to serve specialty coffees, chai and hot chocolate in custom-made mugs plus small plates and Scandinavian-style, open-face sandwiches and specialty toasts served on hand-crafted trays.

The Alpine Modern Café will be at 904 College Avenue, Boulder, 303-264-7638

Unhappy Hour Farewell to Volta

Boulder is about to lose a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant.

001My 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.

There are as many versions of hummus as there are chefs and cooks around the eastern Mediterranean or inspired by that region.

There are as many versions of hummus as there are chefs and cooks around the eastern Mediterranean or inspired by that region. Volta’s is mostly smooth but with a tad of texture and a fine flavor with chickpeas dominant.

Olives of various colors and flavors come in a small dish.

Olives of various colors and flavors come in a small dish.

Individual pizza with mushrooms, onions and a bit of cheese.

Individual pizza with mushrooms, onions and a bit of cheese.

Spanakopita -- spinach ad cheese in a flaky phyllo crust -- is one of my favorite Greek specialties. Volta serves it with excellent yogurt sauce and tzatziki, a traditional yogurt and cucumber sauce.

Spanakopita — spinach and cheese in a flaky phyllo crust — is one of my favorite Greek specialties. Volta serves it with excellent tzatziki, a traditional yogurt and cucumber sauce, and a few greens.

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!

Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola

Food Should Taste Good makes products that live up to the brand name.

018Food Should Taste Good is based in Minneapolis, but this line of tasty natural tortilla chips, crackers and other snack foods could be a Boulder area company. After all, the products are gluten-free, cholesterol-free, have zero grams of trans- fats and are even kosher, and some varieties are also certified vegan. Certified organic is the only desirable attribute that is missing, but you can’t have everything — and since it is part of giant General Mills, I’m not holding my breath for organic. What these products do have is great taste — hence the name that resonates with me, because I believe that taste is really important.

A public relations crew came out from Massachusetts on Saturday to host a tasting at Lola Mexican Fish House, a Highland eatery known as much for its brunch as its seafood. I have been wanting to go there for a long time, so I’m grateful to FSTG. Lola, part of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, is something of a melding of Jax Fish House (four metro area locations plus Kansas City) on the seafood side and Centro Latin Kitchen and Zolo Grill (both in Boulder) on the Latin side. This  chef-driven group was founded in 1994 by David Query with Jamey Fader as culinary director. Both are well-known veteran chefs in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

The tasting took place in the basement bar, a venue that along with good brunch drinks, gave the event an after-dark air. In fact, it was a bit of a shock to come upstairs into the bright light of the early afternoon. Lola’s chef de cuisine Kevin Grossi put out a selection of guacamole and assorted dips to mix and match with various Food Should Taste Good chips flavors. Blue corn chips are my favorites. I kind of liked dipping guacamole chips into Lola’s fine guac, but in truth, every combo was good.

I couldn't get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.

I couldn’t get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.

Continue reading “Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola”

Chef Kleinman Wins ‘Restaurant Startup’

TV victory helps The Inventing Room’s brick-and-mortar location come into being.

InventingRoom-logoColorado’s magic-making chef, Ian Kleinman, out own master of molecular cuisine, has won “Restaurant Startup,” CNBC’s entrepreneurial competition show. Kleinman and partner Mike Coberlain pitched their concept and cuisine to judges Joe Bastianich and Tim Love, and came away with a $150,000 investment. Egalitarian Ian wants to open an affordable, friendly restaurant that showcases the fun of food — or as he puts it, “gastro-fun.” He has been having that kind of fun since he was executive chef at O’s Steakhouse in the Westin Westminster Hotel. Molecular and meat were strange kitchen-fellows, but he honed his craft there and went on to become a popular caterer with parlor tricks galore.

Kleinman reportedly created the prototype of his restaurant – from the design up – for free, with or without help from other creative sorts. If I interpret this correctly, it means that his winnings can all go into the brick-and-mortar Inventing Room that is to open at 2020 Lawrence Street in the Ballpark area. An ice cream shop is scheduled to launch on June 1. “On the Town” columnist Penny Parker wrote, “The ice cream shop will feature composed confections such as a compressed mango and strawberry kabob with salted carmel and chocolate, a carrot cake cookie ice cream sandwich with toasted marshmallow and cream cheese ice cream dipped in liquid nitrogen and a robot that will make chocolate truffles. Oh, and you can also get a pedestrian scoop of ice cream such as Kleinman’s popular hot fudge flavor and classic vanilla bean.”

New Flavors from Endangered Species Chocolate

Three new dark chocolates — yum. And ethically produced too.

EndangeredSpeciesChoc-logoI love dark chocolate, and I’ve become a bit fanatical about buying products that bear the “Fair Trade” logo, as well as being organic, non-GMO and non-mega-corporate. Yes, I know it costs more, but such products please my palate and soothe my conscience. With all that, I welcome the news that Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC), the first American-made chocolate brand made with fully traceable Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa, has three new 60 percent cocoa bars. These are Dark Chocolate with Lemon Poppy Seed, Dark Chocolate with Blackberry Sage and Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon, Cayenne and Cherries, formulated to today’s current food trends. I share the  millennials’ taste for  lemon poppy seed, blackberry sage and especially the combo cinnamon, cayenne and cherries that balances heat and sweet.

ESC’s chocolate bars are Fairtrade International certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, gluten-free and support wildlife preservation efforts – differentiating factors among other chocolate bars. I expect that they will be relatively easy to find in one of Boulder’s several natural grocers and many specialty shops.  I know such products are premium-priced, and I’m willing to pay it.