More than a brewpub


The Boulder Draft House,
which occupies the former
Redfish location, lives up to
its name, as it features
numerous craft beers from
the Colorado Brewing Company. This
cavernous but inviting space also serves
up several enticing food specials, such
as Monday’s $7 burger-and-a-beer deal,
and Happy Hour runs all day Tuesday.
Despite the spotlight on adult beverages,
friend Florence and I also realized
over lunch that this
is also a surprisingly
venue, complete with
a Thursday kids-eatfree

Further evidence
of family friendliness
manifested itself in the form of a $7
Portabella fries starter that came
encased in a wispy-yet-crunchy cornmeal
batter. The fryer’s heat had
reduced these mushrooms to a state of
pleasing moistness while maximizing
their earthy savor. I deluded myself that
this fried snack was healthy, since if
something’s made of portabellas instead
of potatoes, it has to be good for you,
right? More realistically, Florence
noted, “My kids would love these.”

Being an unrepentant Chilihead, I
had to sample a $4 cup of Texas chili.
Unfortunately, this was the meal’s nadir.
While the cup held a generous serving
of ground beef, a layer of grease on top
made for an unappetizing appearance,
and the predominant flavor was of salt.
Chili of decent quality is tough to find
in restaurants, and this example reinforced
the notion that the best versions
of this Tex-Mex staple are still homemade.

The Boulder Draft House
2027 13th St. Boulder

Happily, Florence’s $8 Shrimp Po’
Boy sandwich provided ample absolution
for this troublesome cup of red.
The appealing cornmeal batter from the
mushroom fries made an encore
appearance, this time coating a hearty
ration of meaty shrimp. With respect to
texture, the shrimp’s crunch satisfyingly
complemented the
discreet chew of the
baguette-shaped roll,
and the vegetarian
artichoke-heart version
would likely
elicit a similar pleasure.
A bracing side
of crisp cole slaw possessed a fresh
taste, enhanced by a subtle splash of
malt vinegar that added the correct
measure of tartness.

Surprisingly sophisticated was my
entrée of lobster macaroni and cheese,
one of the best ways to spend $12 in a
local eatery. At this price, it’s unrealistic
to expect huge chunks of tail and claw
meat, although there was enough crustacean
to contribute an understated seafood
essence. The addition of creamy
goat cheese, sweet beets, and gently
sautéed spinach transformed this dish
from the comforting to the borderline
decadent. It would have been a worthwhile
dish even without the lobster, and
the heaping Nimitz-class-sized portion
was enough for two filling meals.

We pressed on to sample our server’s
enthusiastically recommended $6
chocolate bread pudding. He warned
that it was equal in size to the formidable
mac and cheese, and a heap of
vanilla ice cream on top only enhanced
this sweet’s stature. I’m happy to report
that flavor equaled volume, as this
preparation was shot through with profound
cocoa flavor that was less
Hershey’s and more European chocolate

Although the initial impression of
the Draft House as an archetypical
brewpub is correct, that’s only part of
the story. The food here goes beyond
the routine wings and nachos, into
something more gourmet. But perhaps
the biggest surprise is the appeal of this
restaurant for all ages, leading Florence
to express her desire to quickly return
with her family.

Creating the perfect chili

Die-hard chili purists prefer their bowls of red without beans
and tomatoes, relying almost exclusively on meat, onions,
garlic, cumin and ground peppers. For me, the key to proper
flavor lies in the spicing, and I’ll start with a base of mediumhot
Chimayo pure chili powder. I also add a judicious measure
of ground cumin (don’t want it to taste like a locker room),
Mexican oregano and cayenne pepper for additional heat. I’ll
also add a diced green chile from my frozen stash, unless I get
lazy and add canned Rotel tomatoes with habañero — I’m OK
with adding tomatoes.