January 9, 2009

The Kitchen: on Pearl Street, in Boulder, Colorado, you’ll find “the greenest restaurant in the West.”


Ran into Hugo Matheson, a longtime friend and the man and vision behind much of the greatness that has been The Kitchen over the last five years. We had a great talk about the below “editor’s note,” he was understandably a little disappointed, and sought to remind me that The Kitchen really strives to walk its talk in a way few restaurants care to do—that if they cut prices they can’t support the amazing, and in many cases “slow food” or local farmers and fishermen, etc. I was chastened, and asked Hugo to try and do a little more to remind The Kitchen’s many fans of why we love it, even in these tough economic times. He reminded me that it’s not like The Kitchen is getting rich, what it does costs more and in fact times have been tight for The Kitchen, along with everyone else.

So I’ll be honored and happy to return to my spot at the bar downstairs and reschedule lunch meetings and dinners and drinks Upstairs—at such time as elepahnI gets a few more advertisers on board. Until then, it’ll be Chipotle, Burnt Toast, Mountain Sun, Sunflower, Hapa—all of whom either support elephant and/or are eminently affordable, and to some degree or other mindful in their food sourcing and business practices. In any case, I of course encourage all turistas, as written in my original review below, and better-off citizens of Boulder to support what is, in my opinion, one of the best green-minded restaurants anywhere.

Editor’s Note: while The Kitchen is theoretically still my favorite restaurant in town…it’s become a little too expensive for me. Lunch has gone from an affordable luxury that I indulged in alone (at the golden salvaged wooden bar) two times a week, and in a meeting at a table once a week…to something I never, ever do. I miss it. Breakfast, one of the best in town (or anywhere) is gone for now, replaced by a tapas-like menu in the afternoon that neither I nor anyone else with a job find it convenient to attend (though the idea of a relaxed, community-focused time is wonderful, and in keeping with The Kitchen’s genesis). Upstairs at The Kitchen, long Boulder’s only civilized yet-still-fun open lounge or loft-like bar, has become prohibitively expensive—recently I paid $12 or $13 including tip and tax for a beer. One. Beer.

When I’m making more dough, I’ll go back—the place still combines elegance and local, organic, free range foodie values in a way that makes it deserve its top Gourmet magazine ranking. Just wish they had a few more affordable choices for lunch and drinks.

PS: I wrote this addendum to my original, enthusiastic review of this, my favorite restaurant only after hearing, unprompted, from a few friends (who are better off than I) that The Kitchen had become too pricey. Perhaps The Kitchen is going through tough times with the economy being down and all—thus the sudden super-priciness.

~~~ original review below ~~~

I’ve probably gone to The Kitchen about 2,000 times over the past five years since they opened (don’t do the math). Why? Because if I were a restaurant I’d want to be The Kitchen:

…Eco-responsible, slow food, locally-sourced—but not hippie.

…Fine dining—but not overly pretentious.

…Elegant—but fun.

Of course, I used to go a lot more…when you could get lunch (in my case, veggie sandwich with greens and dry capp with hand-rolled cwoissant [as I pronounce it, most carefully] for maybe $14 including tip). It’s gone up a few bucks over the years, not bad, but enough to make it more of a seldom treat than a two or three times a week kinda thing.

If you want to enjoy Boulder at its sunniest, go for Brunch on a weekend with a love and read the Times.

As for dinner, like my other Boulder fave Frasca it’s well out of my independent-journalist price-range but well worth it if it’s in your price range.

Post-dinner, when I wanna go or stay out, I oft go Upstairs…at the Kitchen. Upstairs is pretty much Boulder’s only elegant, modern lounge (St. Julien has a good, big lounge area, too). Everyone knows your name—which makes it a difficult place for a first date. For years I got a light dinner Upstairs, where things seemed a bit more affordable, with a single or double Talisker or MacAllan plus a beer or two if I was feeling happy…until I realized how much it was…now I stick to a couple sides: the world’s best garlic fries with home-made mayo or dijon, greens, flat bread…and a solitary, quality local brew (I’m an old man, these days. More than a few drinks and I want to go to bed).

So, if you want your dining-out-dollars to help build a more mindful, modern world—and you happen to be in Boulder—pay a visit to The Kitchen, and/or Upstairs at the Kitchen. And if you see me there, say hey—unless I look awkward and distracted and am sitting with someone far too good for me. In which case, if you please, just let me be.

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