A recent Twitter conversation with my fitness nut of an ex-boss: Me: “Do you even eat ice cream? I thought Crossfit makes you cut fun out of your diet altogether.” Her: “I Crossfit so that I can eat and drink whatever I want. Paleo was no fun.”
By all outward appearances, I’d have to agree. Any diet that cuts out grains, dairy and legumes is going to make for a really crappy bean and cheese burrito.
And in general, Paleo is kind of crap, since most people don’t know what to do with it other than what not to eat. But that’s where the artistry comes in. In the same way Hitchcock’s films became more suspenseful from the ways he was forced to shoot around what he couldn’t show on screen, a good chef can turn those limitations to their advantage, focusing not on what to cut out, but how to best use what’s available.
That’s the sort of Paleo diet food being dished out at Blooming Beets, a relatively new restaurant in north-ish Boulder.
An easy way to see it in practice is the drinks menu, which is packed with locally made, grain-free ciders made from pineapple, lemongrass and berries. There’s also apple if you’re not feeling adventurous.
A bowl of chilled beet, ginger-citrus bisque ($7.50) was thick and sweet, a little closer to a porridge than a bisque, but a lovely appetizer with an unusual flavor palate.
A burger Benedict ($13) from the brunch menu was blended with a smoky seasoning and came atop a bed of roasted yams, beets and onion. The hollandaise wasn’t the most hollandaisy ever, making the whole thing a bit closer to a bunless royal burger (burger with an egg) than any sort of Benedict, but it was still a tasty dish that was a pleasant departure from standard menu offerings across restaurants, which typically offer the same dishes with only minor tweaks, primarily in quality of ingredients. Both the burger benedict and the beet bisque are not going to be found on other menus, because why would they? They’re Paleo.
I finished things off with a lovely piece of chocolate lava cake baked fresh using almond flour so to keep things Paleo.
And keeping things Paleo is key, as Blooming Beets even has the slogan “The Beauty of Primal Eating,” posted in several places like a mantra. But here’s the thing: There’s nothing primal about it. The restaurant’s interior is done up in a bright fresh décor, with whitewashed wood paneling and lots of natural light from big windows at the front. The food is far classier than the average middle-class cave person was likely to be chowing down on, and it ain’t cheap. Blooming Beets is lifestyle eating if anything, no different in principle than the hip pizza joint or the restaurant that serves the same chow for twice the price as the corner diner just by adding a white table cloth. I was even turned away the first time I tried to review the joint because I wasn’t a member of the Paleo meetup group who were lunching there that day. Behind the server turning me away was a large supply of empty tables. The service was much friendlier on my second visit.
Paleo might not be fun, as my ex-boss alleged, but at Blooming Beets, it’s certainly not the food that will lead you to that conclusion.