The Corner Bar and Cafe in Boulder, Colorado.
What: Explore a brand new menu, interior, and feel The Corner Bar & Cafe.
Where: Found in the historic Boulderado Hotel in downtown Boulder, Colorado at 2115 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302.
When: The fresh cocktail and small plate menu is running with these items for the Summer season only.
Pros: The menu is set at a two-star price, yet the food is that of a Michelin star palette. This spot features cocktail menus crafted with the help of award-winning bartender Allison Widdecombe of Williams & Graham, and the results are stunning.
Cons: Try to valet with the Boulderado Hotel, as parking in this busy spot is tricky. Come with an appetite, as the dishes are rich.
The Corner Bar & Cafe has been reborn. This beautiful, casual bistro in the historic Boulderado Hotel recently underwent a classy and minor face lift. The change propelled the spot from the historic roots into a modernly elegant-meets-traditional love affair. A relaxing, outdoor bar wraps around the corner of the large, 19th century brick building that is the Boulderado. As you enter the Corner Bar, the high ceiling and lofted dining room immediately draw your eye. Taxidermy and Western kitschy influences welcome you in. Traditional wood and marble, with reused upside-down glass bottle chandeliers above a sprawling oak bar are just a few notable touches.
Like all Boulder spots, The Corner Bar and Cafe excels in finding local purveyors. I swooned over the selection behind the bar of my favorite local whiskies including, Buffalo Trace, as well as Fireside. They infuse local with seasonal to create the perfect Colorado ideology in menu form. General Manager Jess explained their inspiration in the unorthodox Summer menu:
“We didn’t want all of the flavors to be obviated in Summer. We wanted some things to be out of season because you don’t want everything to be Summer, Summer, Summer. We wanted to bridge the gap. You’ll see things on our food menu like brussell sprouts, people will think brussell sprouts in summer? But once you taste it, you crave it again.”
The common thread weaved from the bar experience to the kitchen is that originality. They make the simple syrups in house, to pastries and all different variety of bread, and more. The fine details are perfectionist in nature, and this extra effort comes through in the taste and execution of the food.
The talented staff at The Corner Bar and Cafe are playing with what is old and making it new again. Prime example found in the Dahlia. It uses St. Germaine, an elderberry liquer to act as a light cordial to bridge a cocktail, adding local vodka, fresh muddled grapefruit, Prosecco, and lemon juice.
There is yet more appreciation for the classical flavors in drinks, like a smoky mezcal in the Mezcal Mule, Jess’s personal favorite. This drink is made with Mezcal, lime, ginger beer, a divine homemade peach-habenero simple syrup, cucumber, and ground chipotle. You should be able to anticipate the taste in smell. Mezcal is one of the trickiest liquors to make into a smooth cocktail. It is smoky, without the negative connotations that it’s brother tequila has. There is much attention as you anticipate, you notice how they have built the cocktail in layers.
“How lucky are we that we live in a state, in Colorado, if you want to be local or organic 12 months of the year, you could. There are so many places in the world that they can’t, they don’t even make the association. It’s funny because I feel like, cocktail wise, that is why so many of these old school cocktails are making a resurgence. We are lucky enough to live in a state with a generosity of the economy to be able to develop products, and to be creative.”
The Dahlia boasts one of these classical ressurgence liquers, the St. Germaine. St. Germaine is an elderberry liqueur. It’s like using agave syrup, it has a bouquet on the nose and a floral scent. It doesn’t overwhelm, you’re building the cocktail in layers. It’s why St. Germaine has become so popular. To bridge the cocktail and smooth it over. It’s made a huge resurgence. The dahlia. Absolutely refreshing.
My favorite item from the food menu was the Maine Lobster Roll. Pastry Chef Alex makes rosemary bread for the roll matched with a tart, seasonal beet salad, and local Haystack Mountain goat cheese. It’s not overdressed, good balance and wonderful bread ratio.
I was possibly equally in love with the bizarre yet addictive Polenta tots, with a deliciously disruptive white truffle aioli, panko breading, fresh shaved Parmesan on top. Look for the disruptively out of season, yet delicious, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, pan fried and doused in a sweet sriracha sauce.
Casual yet sophisticated in design, the Corner Bar’s menu and outlook are to keep you guessing. They upset the normal expectations of seasonal flavor combinations, of ingredients, and in atmosphere.
For a casual, western feel, at the Corner Bar you’ll enjoy a seasonally changing menu, house-made infusions and a perfectly poured martini. Another favorite drink prepared was the Sake To Me. This drink is muddled with fresh basil, simple syrup, lemon juice, Caprock gin, and topped with a sparkling sake. Pair with the wildly creative dish Caprese Arancini – – fried risotto, sun dried tomato, basil aioli, artichoke gremolata, fennel oil. Caprese flavors in an arancini (risotto rice ball). The rice ball itself was balanced in palette, but a bit rich. I loved the heirloom yellow tomatoes with a fresh pesto to counteract that richness.
With a clientele of 80% local and 20% national and international, from the hotel guests, this place has a reach beyond that of the local sphere. The Corner Bar is a welcoming epicenter for the traveling businessmen staying in the hotel, to the international high-class visiting Boulder and the newly found tourism market in Colorado, to the college students, to families, and everyone in between. Not a single point of view is left unaccounted for at this spot. All feel welcome, in an area so eclectic, this is a feat as great as the menu itself.
All photography by Lindsey Bartlett.