Upon entering, one notices the only thing missing from the white-toned, swinging, ’60s-influenced décor is a bachelor pad music soundtrack. But this thought recedes as you queue up at the salad counter. There’s a lot of activity here, as the staff spritzes on dressing (available in light, medium and heavy quantities), cooks up accompanying proteins like full-flavored tri-tip steak, and adorns each serving with such ingredients as goat cheese, corn and edamame.
Salads are available in full and side portions for $6.50 and $4.75, respectively. There’s a design-your-own option where you can choose up to seven toppings. Additionally, there are five themed salads, including the Ranchero, mixing veggies, cheese and egg whites drizzled with chili ranch dressing. Additional grilled toppings range from $1.75 for Portobello mushrooms or tofu to three bucks for tri-tip.Modmarket 1600 28th St., Boulder
At the cash register, one can order soups and pizza. Lunch pal Florence selected a $3.95 cup — the $7.50 bowl seems a touch pricey — of the Green Chicken Chili, which could possibly benefit from a shifting of adjectives. I went for the cashew butternut soup, made of locally sourced squash from Munson Farm. While our server was a touch sloppy in ladling the soup into our bowls, each choice couldn’t be faulted for flavor and appearance.
The chicken soup possessed noticeable spice without compelling us to hit the soda fountain to extinguish the flame. The chicken itself had an agreeably firm texture, with a surprisingly deep poultry flavor. Modmarket’s online menu asserts that the butternut is the finest gluten-free vegan soup in town, and I agree. Despite the absence of dairy, it displayed indisputable richness and a most attractive golden hue.
For an entrée, Florence had the Mongolian salad, seasoned with a light ration of lip-smacking orange mint chile dressing. We agreed it would be better to get the medium level of dressing. However, the tri-tip added powerful taste notes not dissimilar to a good steak fresh off the grill, which is pretty much what it is. Accoutrements such as soy nuts and wontons (actually thick chow mein-style noodles) added welcome crunch, and the generous portion was more than adequate.
Flatbreads are available in vegetarian and carnivore versions. Some echo traditional pizzas, such as the Pepe, which features nitrate-free pepperoni, while others are more up-to-date versions, like the vegan pie, featuring dairy-free cheese. My selection was the $6 half Pom, laden with chicken dressed up with balsamic pomegranate glaze, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, onion and portabellos. Despite the variety of ingredients, the flavor was remarkably balanced, with the tangy glaze complementing the milky qualities of the cheese. Although I prefer a more cracker-like crust, I appreciated the whole-grain texure. This crust does tend to soften up over time, so this is best eaten quickly.
We ended with a $4 dessert flatbread topped with Nutella, fresh strawberries and powdered sugar. This crepelike dessert was a fulfilling end to a satisfying-yet-healthy lunch, the not-toosweet crust tempering the topping’s more decadent qualities.
Clay’s Obscurity Corner
Tri-tip beef was popularized by the citizens of Santa Maria, a Santa Barbara hamlet that dubs itself California’s Barbecue Capital. Derived from the bottom sirloin, this cut gets its name from being a triangular-shaped piece of muscle. Until the middle of the 20th century, this cut was likely to be processed for other culinary uses, such as being cut into steaks or ground into hamburger. But town residents began cooking the piece on its own, typically over a roaring oak fire. It has relatively little fat and is popular as a type of chili meat, especially in competitive cook-offs.