Organic Dining Across America: Boulder
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 nestledamidst the pristine beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Set in the middle ofstaunchly conservative Colorado, this uber-liberal little city isappropriately referred to as the "Boulder Bubble." Though some visitingColoradoans may want to debate Boulderites on their politics, very fewfeel a need to debate these folks on food. The warmth of the highdesert climate allows for an impressive array of fresh locally grownproduce, and the numerous organic growers at the Boulder farmer'smarket keep the city's chefs flush with delectable raw materials. Letthe feeding begin…
The Kitchen is the most stellar example of organic dining inBoulder, bar none. The elegantly minimal decor lends a blank canvas tothe flawless ingredients-driven cuisine of Chef Hugo Matheson. Hugo cuthis chops with Ruth Rogers of The River Cafe in London, the same mentorthat turned out such greats as April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig and"the naked chef" himself, Jamie Oliver. Matheson's River Cafe trainingshows; he showcases the freshest, most interesting locally-sourcedproduce and meats possible in recipes that both excite and delight. Dishes here reflect the moment of the season perfectly, from the RoastDuck Breast with Colorado Peaches, Glazed Carrots, and Bok Choy to theHand Rolled Gnocchi with Munson Farm Corn and Cure Farm Tomatoes.
My apologies to teatotalers, wine is a key ingredient to the diningmojo of The Kitchen. The sommeliers here encompass two characteristicsrarely found together in the wine business: solid knowledge and acomplete lack of pretension. Enjoy this rare phenomena and engage staffoenophiles Ray, Karim or Erin in your wine selection process; you willbe delighted at their expertise and warmth, as well as their respectfor your indicated budget. Trust me.
Whether you consult the pages of Zagat Survey and Fodor's, or simplythe sage advice of any Boulder-bred foodie, The Kitchen should be yourfirst order of business in the "Bubble."
Once you've got The Kitchen under your belt (literally), you mustmake a beeline to Sunflower. The food here is delicious, the juice baris exceptional, and the wine list features over 45 organic andbiodynamic offerings. (Might I recommend the Marcel Deiss Pinot Blancor the sparkling rose by Nicolas Feuillate…tres delicieux.) The staffat Sunflower is well versed on the menu and very friendly. Owners Jefand Michele Forsberg are committed to serving the best quality fish,meat and poultry available, much of which is local and almost all ofwhich is organic. Sunflower also presents local artists on their wallsand special dining eventseach month. What Sunflower's menu may lack in innovation, it makes upfor with food that is consistently tasty and an atmosphere that lendsitself to lingering.
Leaf Restaurant's organic vegetarian menu is all over themap…literally. Lunch here could range from Korean Bi Bim Bop toJamaican Jerk Tempeh to Vegan French Toast. At dinner you can startwith a Mediterranean Plate, cross over to the Oaxacan Mole, and finishwith Creme Brulee; though you might be full, you could consideryourself worldly by the time the check comes. (Maybe Sarah Palin shoulddine here.) Though the menu at Leaf is meat-free, it doesn't feel likeit. Hearty dishes like the BBQ Seitan with Garlic Mashed Potatoes andthe Roasted Vegetable Phyllo Purse with Wild rice, Truffled SweetPotato Puree, and Hazel Dell Mushroom Port Reduction satisfy herbivoresand carnivores alike, making this the ultimate place to convince yourDad to cross over to a vegetarian lifestyle…just kidding, but it is agood place for vegetarians and meat eaters to dine together in culinaryaccord. Leaf has a great list of affordable, sustainably-grown winesand they even offer a couple of biodynamic sakes. Or, you can keep itlocal and try one of Leaf's house cocktails spiked with Boulder's veryown organic "Vodka 14." It's always fun to justify consumption oflibations 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 mealon your own. The Boulder Farmer's Market is one of the very best in thecountry by far, and should not be missed!