Big-Time Dining in Boulder
I'm in Denver, Colorado for the International Association of Culinary Professional conference. It's my first trip to the Denver area and the eats are indeed fine. On Wednesday we were on a tour and had lunch at The Kitchen. They have gotten a reputation for being one of the "greenest restaurants in the country, but Kimbal Musk, the chef and one of the owners, shared his view that they would rather be known as a community restaurant. They do indeed support local farmers and run their business in a way that supports the Boulder community and the local environment. Yes, all of this is important, but my main impression of this place is that the food is top notch. We started out with an enticing dish of hummus (photo) and rustic bread, then moved on to flatbread with proscuitto and cheese, a spring greens salad with pecans and goat cheese, pork sandwiches, french fries, salmon over greens and mashed potatoes, and finally, almond squares and brownies. As if we had room for any of that dessert!
Thursday night, we dined at Frasca and I had one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The chef, Lachlan Makinnon-Patterson won the James Beard award for best chef in the Southwest in 2008. The cuisine is inspired by the culture and cuisine of Friuli, Italy. I've never been there, but if it's anything like this restaurant, I want to move there.
The food was not pretentious, but full of flavors that worked together and the dishes were presented simply and beautifully. If you go there, do yourself a favor and start with the "frico caldo". It's a potato cake that's creamy on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside, and drizzled with a light cilantro sauce. I also fell in love with duck thigh ravioli in broth, escolar with a polenta cake, and the pork tenderloin over braised escarole with lemon olive oil. I can't even pick a favorite course because they were all so perfect. I sampled from the plates of my friends and, again, everything was divine. Especially the raosted potato gnocchi. We all ordered desserts and sampled from all. I think the prize might have gone to the Valrhona Dark Chocolate gelati. You get a choice of three flavors and they were all good, but if you are lucky enough to be there, I would suggest just cutting to the chase and ordering three scoops of the chocolate. Rarely am I speechless when tasting a dessert, but I was with this one! The bar has certainly been raised for my fine dining expectations and I suspect it may be a long time before I have a meal as wonderful as the meal at Frasca.