better of it and quickly return to dicing arugula for salad. But I wasn’t thinking about Farmer’s Market greens and severed anatomy. Nah, I had a big question that led me all the way down the Diagonal to Longmont. I asked Big Mike to tag along, because sometimes if you ask questions, you need muscle along for the ride.
Basil Flats is what they call it. Word was the guys behind Noodles and Company were behind this outfit. I was trying to figure out if this strip mall joint was one-of–a-kind, or if someone had plans for a big new chain. Outside it was strip mall, but inside it was shiny tiles and cheerful colors, just like the Mediterranean. Couples and families enjoyed their meals, real friendly-like.
We made a beeline for the counter so we could eyeball the Mediterraneaninspired menu. They had flatbread pizza, sandwiches, tapas including hummus, and beer and wine to drink. It’s one of these places where there’s chow for both vegetarians and carnivores, and the tapas menu encourages sharing. The locavores’ fingerprints were all over the place, since they were featuring Boulder sausage and Haystack goat cheese. Things were looking up.
After putting in our order at the counter, the servers brought out two $4 small salads, a Greek and a Panzanella. At most places these would pass for large. The Greek was a straightforward, freshtasting number with feta, tomato, peppers and olive. The Panzanella was more intriguing, with crunchy flatbread, croutons, onion and punchpacking peppers. Each also had the perfect measure of creamy basil dressing to help make the flavors pop.
1067 South Hover Rd.
Next up were starters, including $4.25 meatballs and fries, accompanied by a slightly sweet and tangy roasted tomato sauce that put ketchup to shame. The meatballs tasted like they should cost more than they did, with a surprising richness indicative of adding a little lamb to the beef. The fries were faultless, possessing an addictive crispness.
While it didn’t contain the most expensive ingredients, a $6.95 artisan salumi and cheese plate was a great deal. Spanish manchego sheep’s milk cheese had a delicate taste and crumbly feel, like Parmagiano. The cured meat choices of Capicola smoked pork shoulder and Soppressata pork salami had an assertive but not overly processed taste that balanced well with flatbread. The only discordant note was the rubbery mozzarella slices, whose quality was as incongruous as a Cheeto at a sushi bar.
Mike’s from Chitown, and thinks he knows a little something about pizza, served here in 10- and 14-inch sizes. We went for the large $13.50 Greco, laden with rosemary grilled chicken, peppers, spinach, feta and olive oil. It was a goodlooking, colorful pie with evenhanded flavors. Mike, who can be tough to please, dug the crust for being hefty without being bready, and he was into its golden hue.
For less than $40, we had enough food for ourselves and a few other people. You can pay a lot more for something similar at a fancypants spot. What’s next for Basil Flats? It would be a crime if this restaurant, with its tasty, affordable chow, doesn’t branch out into more locations.
Clay’s Obscurity Corner
Of wives, knives and necks
Raymond Chandler was one of the great 20th century hardboiled mystery writers, famous for penning the immortal line, “Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks.” Along with Dashiell Hammett and John D. MacDonald, Chandler is among the most influential modern writers of detective fiction. Chandler’s Marlowe is a refinement of Hammett’s Sam Spade; Marlowe’s cynicism was tempered by more introspection, and his phrasing is not without poetic qualities. Marlowe also sets the stage for MacDonald’s Travis McGee, the wisecracking, carefree, semiloner who was the prototype for everyone from Jim Rockford to Thomas Magnum.