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Thursday, June 7,2012

Coffee up and brunch

By Clay Fong

For my money, the key predictor of the success of a brunch outing comes with the first sip of house java. My bleary-eyed pal Cyn and I had just blown into Lyons, ensconced ourselves in a corner table at the Lyons Fork, and requested coffee first thing out of the gate. The joe on our tongues was telling — it was an assertive, hearty brew made from Silver Canyon beans, swiftly delivered by our friendly but not overly familiar server. Individual pitchers of cream placed in front of us were evidence of this spot’s eye for detail.

The feel here is unquestionably hospitable, accented by vibrant folk art and a cheerfully rustic feel. The sturdy historic building exudes a mountain town by way of the Wild West vibe. We observed a mix of customers that included couples, families with young children, and an adult son taking Mom out for a Sunday jaunt.

Unsurprisingly, the weekend-only brunch menu features standards like egg breakfasts and a smoked salmon plate with a toasted English muffin rather than a bagel. Lunch-centered options include a Colorado beef burger and a red leaf lettuce salad adorned with pickled fennel and goat cheese. The family-friendly vibe is reinforced by the fact that children under 10 have the option of ordering a $4 breakfast plate or a $3 grilled cheese with sauteed vegetables.

We started by sharing a bowl of $6 curried shrimp and sweet potato bisque. When this thick soup arrived, it was heralded by a tantalizing aroma and attractively presented in a squarish bowl. While it could have been a tad hotter, this course nicely mingled the scents of curry and coconut against the canvas of sweet potato. The shrimp was more of a flavoring agent, as we didn’t detect any large shellfish morsels.

We had a hard time deciding between the apple fritters and their savory cousin, anchored by zucchini and Haystack chevre.

We went with the $7 veggie and cheese selection sided with a spunky lemon truffle aioli. Like the soup, this dish was a darn-near perfect balance of flavors, with the tangy cheese completing the mellower vegetable flavor. Garlic-freighted aioli added just the right measure of bite, and fresh-from-the-fryer crispness made for textural enjoyment, especially when contrasted with the subtly melted cheese.

Cyn’s $9 griddled French toast came garnished with plenty of toasted almonds. An apple compote topping was surprisingly complex, with hints of honeyed but not too sweet vanilla playing off tart fruit. The hefty baguette slices were endearingly eggy, with sour cream providing an edgy counterpoint. The portion was ample, with enough for Cyn to take home.

The $9 veggie omelet with Haystack cheese, mushrooms, green onion and sun-dried tomato also pulled off a winning melding of tastes. Granted, omelets are hard to screw up, but this one reminded me how most places don’t pay attention to the eggs’ consistency. Lyons Fork’s interpretation had a remarkably fluffy texture that made me suspect someone in the kitchen had a more than passing familiarity with classic French culinary techniques.

Lyons Fork successfully combines all the right ingredients for a top-notch brunch experience. Fare that’s more gourmet than that of the diner, reasonable pricing, and a welcoming atmosphere all make for an experience worthy of a weekend jaunt to Lyons.

Lyons Fork, 450 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-5014

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