On Friday, October 11 Rosetta Hall opened its doors to immediate acclaim. The multi-tiered food hall brings together seven savory concepts, a patisserie, two bars and a coffee shop, with a bright interior and a variety of amenities completing the refurbished space. The building — located one block off the Pearl Street Mall — formerly housed clubs. For a long time it was The Foundry, then the Absinthe House and finally the ill-fated Pop-Up Bar. The tremendous interior has always been known for volume bartending and an over-crowded dancefloor, each of the former iterations following largely the same model as the last.
Rosetta Hall’s approach could not be further from that of its predecessors. The place oozes class. The marble bar was imported from El Nacional in Barcelona, the signage from Central Market in Lisbon with the rooftop bar emulating opulent Chris Craft boat tops. The main floor, a cozy mezzanine and a rooftop complete with rentable cabanas and a snug chilling area with oversized pillows and fake grass utilize every inch of the spot to maximum effect. There’s a lot going on — the design ensures that no matter how busy it gets it never feels chaotic. Things move fluidly.
Boxcar Coffee sits front and center with the closely-packed restaurants all lining the main dining room. Consistent signage provides the first sign of the place’s unified aesthetic. “Everyone shares ideas and ingredients,” said Ginger Pig’s Natascha Hess. All the participating restaurants are concerned with sourcing local ingredients and making the kind of upscale food that can be hard to find in some of the more fast-casual food halls. Patrons can order either from each stall, or they can sit down for a full-service dining experience.
“We run it more like a record label than a food hall,” said director Donovan Greene, whose family has part ownership of the Fox and Boulder Theaters. Restaurants receive a flat-management fee, giving the concepts — most of which are first-timers — a chance to execute their craft at a level that would have been impossible without the Hall’s resources. “The volume allows me to use better products,” continued Hess.
While many of the participants are new to helming their own concepts both Justin Brunson’s Folsom Foods and Hess’ Ginger Pig provide an anchor. Each sign has the restaurant’s name, with the type of food provided as a subheading for easy navigation. French, pan-Asian, Italian, American and Mexican cuisines are all represented. The ingredient-focused menus all have plenty of vegetarian options and food is served up on sturdy, white dishware. Thursday through Sunday the dining room will be converted to a dancefloor, making full use of the light-fixtures’ animatable surfaces and the fully-computerized lighting arrangement. Next month, the venue will see the debut of the Monday indie-cinema screenings. Films will be projected and interested attendees can borrow wireless headphones if they wish to enjoy the movie.
Despite the varying levels of experience, all of the participating restaurants are exceptional. The menus are short and all the chefs are committed to changing them regularly. Eridu — Aaron Lande’s ode to local grains — is a locavore’s paradise. “We want to rethink the connection between ancient grains and fine dining,” said Lande. The millet cake ($10) is a crunchy morsel made from Golden Prairie millet, topped with a quail egg, avocado and the must-try green mojo sauce. “My food relies solely on the farmers,” said mused Lande, who formerly served as Lucky Pie’s executive chef. Joe Lee’s Tierra serves two meat and two vegetarian tacos, along with a quesadilla, a beet and kabocha salad and a mole with confit duck leg. The mushroom chorizo taco ($3.75) comes stacked with spicy ground criminis, crema, onions and pepitas and can satisfy even the most die-hard carnivore. To close, the Belgian chocolate cake ($7) from Petite Fleur — laced with honeycomb and edible gold flake — is essential.
Rosetta Hall clearly has everything it takes to be the durable resident the space has long deserved. While 2019 has certainly been the year for food halls, Rosetta’s studied approach gives it an uncommon harmony. “We wanted to create public infrastructure that will last 100 years,” said Greene. By every indication, the new hub has all the potential to become a lasting fixture in a fickle scene.
Rosetta Hall is located at 1109 Walnut St., Boulder. It is open Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. – 12 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.