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Thursday, August 23,2012

Brunch at Boulder’s Brasserie Ten Ten

By Clay Fong

Recently a pal insistently extolled the virtues of Brasserie Ten Ten’s weekend brunch, but I remained skeptical. However, I have been happily satisfied with this French-influenced eatery’s fine happy hour and have splurged on its seafood platters. So friend Wayne and I decided to investigate and found ourselves exploring the Sunday offerings at this elegantly appointed downtown Boulder locale.

Seated at a sunny outdoor table so as to best emulate a Parisian sidewalk experience, we began with full-bodied cups of $2.50 coffee. Our server Will was professional without being intrusive, and provided a level of attention well above average. The early menu is surprisingly expansive for a restaurant best known for lunch and dinner. Proclaimed Wayne, “There are a lot of breakfast choices.”

Belgian waffle selections ranged from basic versions to a chicken-laden interpretation invoking American Southern cuisine. Egg dishes include your basic oeuvres and Long Farm bacon all the way up to more complicated scrambles and omelets, such as an incongruous Huevos Rancheros. Savory crepes are also available.

Lunch options include shellfish and entree salads like a de rigueur Nicoise. There’s also a trio of American sandwiches, consisting of a burger, a Reuben and a French Dip, which likely originated not in Paris, but L.A.

One of the characteristics distinguishing a pedestrian breakfast from a luxurious brunch is the inclusion of starter courses. We shared a $3.95 half order of beignets, which didn’t resemble the pillow-shaped New Orleans specialty as much as it did a fine French pastry. These piped pastry balls had texture reminiscent of cream puffs. While these beignets lacked a creamy filling (as it should be), a liberal dollop of accompanying lemon cream was a highly satisfying stand-in.


A $3.95 special of organic cucumber and honeydew gazpacho arrived dotted with fresh blackberry and creme fraiche. Subtly sweet melon was tempered by the refreshing cuke, which made for a terrifically balanced flavor. Yet there was still room for improvement, as this soup’s cooling qualities would have benefited from being served at a lower temperature.

“There’s a lid for every pot, as my grandmother used to say,” Wayne said of his $8.95 Bordeaux Scramble, which arrived in a miniature Dutch Oven, its superfluous lid sitting off to one side. While Wayne initially thought the portion appeared small, he found himself more than content with the densely packed mix of custardy eggs, fine herbs and appealingly crumbly herb biscuit. The mellow richness of this dish was counterbalanced by bright arugula tossed with lemon, something Wayne admitted he never prepared at home.

Until a few months ago, I hadn’t eaten a pork chop in years, and I’ve since returned to enjoying this meaty favorite. The $11.95 Porc et pommes fulfilled my desires by presenting a 10-ounce pork porterhouse paired with tempura-fried Granny Smith apples. The thick steak and mildly tart fruit was perfectly cooked, as were the over-easy eggs. Yet the crowning touch was the soy-seasoned onions and jalapeņo garnish, which imparted a unique and winning Asian savor.

Impressively, Ten Ten ably competes with just about every other brunch in town on the basis of service, price and quality. When we first arrived, this brasserie was half full, and when we departed the place was packed. One suspects the secret of Ten Ten’s brunch is getting out.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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Clay's Wayne's Obscurity Corner
No doubt the "Ten Ten" in Brasserie Ten Ten refers to 1010 Walnut St. (It's actually located at 1011.)
But, if you say you are going to "Brasserie Ten Ten" to a Japanese speaker, they might give you a puzzled look.
"Ten-ten" colloquially refers to dakuten, or "dot-dot" -- a set of diacritical marks most often used in the Japanese kana character set. "In informal writing, it is occasionally used on vowels to indicate a shocked or strangled articulation."



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