Thursday, September 1, 2011

Black Cat, Boulder

Black Cat is an upscale bistro in downtown Boulder with its own farm from which it sources its vegetables. Although it is not an exclusively vegetarian/vegan restaurant, it had been highly recommended to me by chefs at the cooking school I attended, The School of Natural Cookery, in Boulder.  My friend, Corey, and I dined there last year and it was so enjoyable that I immediately made reservations to go again once I booked this trip. Reservations are encouraged and often necessary.

We were actually seated at the exact same table at which we were seated last year – a quaint bench in the window facing the bar.  Our waiter, Ben, was quick to approach us to explain the menu and the drinks. They have this amazing cocktail list featuring speakeasy-type drinks as well as an extensive wine list. Corey ordered one of the cocktails and I just decided to go with the wine pairing as we already knew we were ordering the 5-course vegan tasting menu…and I wasn’t driving.  The waiter informed us that it is actually 7 courses if you count the intermezzo. Wow. The waiter continued to explain that 70-80% of the food is sourced from their farm and the rest is purchased locally.  He also let us know that the chef would be choosing the entrees and that even he did not know what the chef would choose to serve us until it was served. I love the element of surprise so I was super excited.

We were first served a couple pieces of bread and olive oil. Normally, I wouldn’t even mention bread, but this bread is truly amazing. In fact, I’d say it is probably the best bread I’ve ever had. It is moist, soft, slightly salty…and just amazing. Corey agreed and has even considered asking if he could buy some on a regular basis!

The first course was marinated summer vegetables with spiced walnuts. It was a delicious mix of fresh green beans, root vegetables, broccoli and carrots. The walnuts were exactly what it needed to give it a different kick.  The first wine was a sparkling wine from Austria by V. Szigeti, which was a great pairing.

The second course was a curried coconut soup with a squash blossom from the farm. This soup had a fantastic flavor to it and it was appropriately paired with a minerally white whine from the Franken region of Germany by Hans Wirsching (2009).

The third course was this amazingly fresh Dolmades stuffed with spiced Farro and sprinkled with fine lemon zest. It was laying over an amazing green tomato basil sauce. The basil sauce paired with the citrus gave it a unique and unexpected flavor. The wine pairing with this dish was a sparkling Pinot Noir from France by V. Albrecht.

The fourth course was a lentil fritter surrounded by curried carrots and squash and topped with a pistachio korma. This Indian-inspired dish was absolutely spectacular. I would have been satisfied to have had an entrée of just this dish for dinner.  It was paired with an amazing Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan blend from Cotes du Rhone by Domaine des Escaravailles (2009). This was one of my favorite wines of the night.

I took a few bites before I photographed the lentil fritter. :(
The fifth course was a squash risotto with a creamy coconut base topped with a squash blossom. Again, this dish was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had a risotto with coconut milk, but it works quite well with the Arborio rice. This dish was paired with a 100% Gamay from the Beaujolais region of France by Christian Vergier (2009). Very nice.

The sixth “course” was the intermezzo of a sorbet, which was fine, but nothing really special. At this point they brought out not one, but two, dessert wines – one white and one red.  They were both spectacular. The red was a Grenache from Banyuls, France by Les Clos de Paulilles (2008) while the white was a Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc from Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont in Bordeaux, France by Chateau La Rame (2005).

The seventh and final course was a variety of strawberries, champagne-dried apricots, dried apples, and pistachios paired with a dark chocolate sauce. This was a nice light ending to a magnificent meal.

I think the chefs at this restaurant are amazing. I know that there are many of them under the direction of Eric Skokan and they are all amazing.  This has to have been one of the best dining experiences of my life. The dishes were unique, creative, and inventive; the wines were spectacular; and the service was exquisite. It is pricey, but appropriately so at $62 for the tasting menu and an additional $37 for the wine pairing. This is a must-visit restaurant for anyone in the Boulder area. And, for anyone doing a foodie tour of the U.S., this restaurant should be on the top of your list. 5 stars.

Black Cat
1964 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 444-5500

Black Cat on Urbanspoon

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