The Low Down On Green Living
September 17th, 2008
Low Impact Living has crisscrossed the country reviewing organic restaurants in a myriad of cities, from food lover’s havens like New York and San Francisco to food lover’s haystacks like Los Angeles and Chicago. Now we’re turning our sights onto some of the smaller organic-friendly enclaves of the US, like Boulder.
Boulder is a town of just over 100,000 people and it is nestled amidst the pristine beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Set in the middle of staunchly conservative Colorado, this uber-liberal little city is appropriately referred to as the “Boulder Bubble.” Though some visiting Coloradoans may want to debate Boulderites on their politics, very few feel a need to debate these folks on food. The warmth of the high desert climate allows for an impressive array of fresh locally grown produce, and the numerous organic growers at the Boulder farmer’s market keep the city’s chefs flush with delectable raw materials. Let the feeding begin…
The Kitchen is the most stellar example of organic dining in Boulder, bar none. The elegantly minimal decor lends a blank canvas to the flawless ingredients-driven cuisine of Chef Hugo Matheson. Hugo cut his chops with Ruth Rogers of The River Cafe in London, the same mentor that turned out such greats as April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig and “the naked chef” himself, Jamie Oliver. Matheson’s River Cafe training shows; he showcases the freshest, most interesting locally-sourced produce and meats possible in recipes that both excite and delight. Dishes here reflect the moment of the season perfectly, from the Roast Duck Breast with Colorado Peaches, Glazed Carrots, and Bok Choy to the Hand Rolled Gnocchi with Munson Farm Corn and Cure Farm Tomatoes.
My apologies to teatotallers, wine is a key ingredient to the dining mojo of The Kitchen. The sommeliers here encompass two characteristics rarely found together in the wine business: solid knowledge and a complete lack of pretension. Enjoy this rare phenomena and engage staff oenophiles Ray, Karim or Erin in your wine selection process; you will be delighted at their expertise and warmth, as well as their respect for your indicated budget. Trust me.
Whether you consult the pages of Zagat Survey and Fodor’s, or simply the sage advice of any Boulder-bred foodie, The Kitchen should be your first order of business in the “Bubble.”
Once you’ve got The Kitchen under your belt (literally), you must make a beeline to Sunflower. The food here is delicious, the juice bar is exceptional, and the wine list features over 45 organic and biodynamic offerings. (Might I recommend the Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc or the sparkling rose by Nicolas Feuillate…tres delicieux.) The staff at Sunflower is well versed on the menu and very friendly. Owners Jef and Michele Forsberg are committed to serving the best quality fish, meat and poultry available, much of which is local and almost all of which is organic. Sunflower also presents local artists on their walls and special dining events each month. What Sunflower’s menu may lack in innovation, it makes up for with food that is consistently tasty and an atmosphere that lends itself to lingering.
Leaf Restaurant’s organic vegetarian menu is all over the map…literally. Lunch here could range from Korean Bi Bim Bop to Jamaican Jerk Tempeh to Vegan French Toast. At dinner you can start with a Mediterranean Plate, cross over to the Oaxacan Mole, and finish with Creme Brulee; though you might be full, you could consider yourself worldly by the time the check comes. (Maybe Sarah Palin should dine here.) Though the menu at Leaf is meat-free, it doesn’t feel like it. Hearty dishes like the BBQ Seitan with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and the Roasted Vegetable Phyllo Purse with Wild rice, Truffled Sweet Potato Puree, and Hazel Dell Mushroom Port Reduction satisfy herbivores and carnivores alike, making this the ultimate place to convince your Dad to cross over to a vegetarian lifestyle…just kidding, but it is a good place for vegetarians and meat eaters to dine together in culinary accord. Leaf has a great list of affordable, sustainably-grown wines and they even offer a couple of biodynamic sakes. Or, you can keep it local and try one of Leaf’s house cocktails spiked with Boulder’s very own organic “Vodka 14.” It’s always fun to justify consumption of libations by “supporting the local economy.”
This short list can get you started on organic dining in Boulder, though make sure to visit the local farmer’s market to whip up a meal on your own. The Boulder Farmer’s Market is one of the very best in the country by far, and should not be missed!
If you have any organic restaurant recommendations in your hometown, please let us know in the comments section below.
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