Boulder’s restaurant week makes expensive fine-dining restaurants affordable
I usually manage to get to two or three restaurants during First Bite Boulder in November and again during Denver Restaurant Week in late February and early March, generally with my husband and often with friends too. This year’s Boulder promotion (November 11-19) overlapped seriously with a trip to New Zealand for the Society of American Travel Writers’ 2011 convention. My husband and I returned home on the evening of the 16th, and less than 48 hours later, we were at John’s Restaurant with friends.
John’s is one of those special restaurants in our hearts. We have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries there, and we even went there for a festive Millennium dinner before watching the annual odometer roll over from 1999 to 2000 on a friends’ big-screen TV, an indulgence that we did not yet own.
This charming restaurant set in an old house on East Pearl Street is a winner in all ways that count. It is lovely and atmospheric. The noise level is better than tolerable, even on the Friday night of Boulder’s main restaurant promotional week when the house is full. The food is impeccable, and the service is its peer. Corey Buck and Ashley Maxwell make John’s, which they have owned since 2003, the best brother-and-sister act in town.
John’s First Bite format is three flavorful savory courses with a choice for each and dessert an optional add-on. Several of the items are also on the regular dinner menu, though First Bite portions are probably more modest. The sauces are so wonderful that we requested more bread to sop up every drop. Last year, one of the restaurants where we First Bited (First Bit?) was Arugula Bar e Ristorante, which used a similar format of three savory dishes and optional dessert. This year, among the four of us, we enjoyed a fair sampling of John’s First Bite Boulder menu, accompanied by a Malbec from Argentina.
Price check: Three-course First Bite Boulder dinners are $26. To illustrate the value, entrees alone at John’s are normally $26-$42. Sure, portions are larger, but the preparation, presentation and service are just as fine as during the other 51 weeks a year.