Monday, January 3, 2011

The Kitchen (8.75)

Imagine yourself walking along Boulder's Pearl Street on a cold winter night, breath clouding in front of you as you yearn for the satisfaction of a fine meal. The street appears absent of the usual Vaudevillian street performers and is rather still, but at the same time you find yourself drawn towards a buzz at the far end of the street to a small row of restaurants.

On this night, if what you're looking for is a warm atmosphere of family, community, and local pride, then you heard it here: The Kitchen is your best bet.  On the Boulder scene since 2003, they have had plenty of time to assemble an impressive portfolio of local farmers and suppliers to adorn their menu. They were also one of the first to embark on such a crusade in the humble abode of America's Foodiest Town, and in turn was one of Bon Apetit's first stops when they awarded the fine honors this fall.

Executive Chef and Co-Owner Hugo Matheson is the man behind the plan when it comes to The Kitchen's local, agrarian focus. Born in England, he grew up on food that was "always fresh and represented the best of the area". Embodied in a menu that changes regularly, you get the same experience (in a very different manner) each and every time you walk into the place. And so you don't have to be left guessing, they always highlight their purveyors on their dining room chalkboard.

Long story short, after a long day of work I shot up 36 to pick up Jess and made it over to the place for the end of community hour. We met up with a few friends to learn more about their new company Bulumu, and enjoyed some great food while we were at it.

The place was packed- with a small bar to the left as you walk in, a long community table down the center of the dining room, and a rustically elegant ambience. We tucked into the back corner and got moving with a few cocktails. They have a rather mature wine list of about 100 bottles, and also boast some fine brews from all over the world. The pick of the night: Avery IPA.

We dined in a small plate format and next thing we knew three hours of great food had flown by. 

A great combo of small plates to whet the palate- house-cured olives, kitchen hummus and garlic fries.

Zucchini fritters with herb yogurt- very fresh, crispy, and complemented well with a tangy sauce

The duck salad with celery, Colorado peach, parsley and a light vinaigrette was very crisp and refreshing.

Mussels with roasted garlic, chili and thyme in a creamy broth. The sweet, mellow, and well-rounded flavors really popped when served with grilled ciabatta.

Steak and frites- Colorado strip loin cooked perfectly with wilted greens, herbed chevre, and garlic fries.

To die for: homemade gnocchi in an earthy porcini butter sauce, finished with chive, sage and lemon. This dish was one of those true gastronomic pleasures of melding flavor profiles and definitely hit the spot as we wound down a great meal.
We definitely had to bite our tongues as it was hard not to order one of everything. But in all, The Kitchen stays true to their local, fresh focus in each facet of their menu. The execution is simple, passionate, and gives back to the community that has supported it all this time. As a matter of fact, if you show up on Monday for Community Night, The Kitchen commits that 20% of your tab will go back to organic gardening programs at Boulder schools. Also 100% wind-powered, your dining experience gives back to the community in more ways than one, so you know your gluttony is going to a good cause. Dish It Up!

Food: 9.0
Ambience: 9.0
Service: 8.0 (team service is well-executed, but at times is hard to get someone's attention)

Avg Entree $26
Avg Small Plate $10
Open every night; community hour 3-5:30
Check out Upstairs as well, open late but with a more limited menu offering
Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for more details and regular updates

The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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