When Mark and Carmen Sample set out to found Samples World Bistro in downtown Longmont, they had a couple of objectives. One was to create a rotating menu of delicious international foods, paired with a robust selection of beer, wine and cider on tap. But more importantly, the couple set out to create a place of business that would offer work skills training and meaningful job opportunities to persons with intellectual disabilities.
The Samples have done this through their foundation Sample Supports, which also provides jobs to this underserved population at Crystal Joys, a jewelry store, rock shop and apothecary with locations in Longmont and Fort Collins.
At Samples World Bistro, clients of Sample Supports can find jobs hosting, bussing tables, washing dishes, line cooking and serving.
“We’ve tried really hard to make sure that we have really fun jobs and meaningful jobs and creative jobs for clients,” Carmen Sample says in a video for Sample Supports. “We make sure they are visible in the community, that they are interacting with people who do not have disabilities, and we make sure that they are getting paid for the work they do.”
While Samples World Bistro is appealing on its own — with its spot right on Main Street, its cozy wood-paneled interior and, of course, an appealing menu of international delights and beers from all over — knowing the restaurant enriches lives makes it immeasurably charming.
My dining partner and I decided to head to Samples for a late brunch recently. I went for a longtime favorite dish, something my mother makes every Christmas Eve, quiche. Quiche is quite an international food all on its own. While the eggy pie is most traditionally viewed as a French dish, research into the etymology of the word suggests it maybe be of German origin, from the word “Kuchen,” meaning cake or tart.
Samples serves three small quiches of the muffin tin variety, filled with cremini mushrooms, baby spinach and tomatoes. The quiches are then covered in hollandaise and served with red flannel hash.
Quiche is a simple dish — just crust, eggs, milk (or cream) and whatever fillings make your heart pitter patter. But it’s often the simplest dishes that prove the trickiest to get just right.
With quiche, the trick lies in balancing the eggs and dairy. The eggs works to set the dairy, but add too many and the pie becomes rubbery. You need a little wobble in the quiche for a moist, silky custard all the way through. Samples delivers on this wobbly quiche, accentuating it with the lemony bite of hollandaise — another egg-based dish requiring a cook’s complete attention to create a smooth, balanced sauce.
I’m ashamed to say I’d never had red flannel hash, though its mixture of potatoes, beets and onions suggests it should be one of my favorite dishes. The bartender who served our food explained that while they usually served quartered beets, the cooks were experimenting with finely minced beets to better distribute that warm, earthy beet flavor throughout the hash. The effect is almost celebratory, with bits of beet covering the potatoes like an explosion of confetti. Beyond the visually pleasing aesthetic, the potatoes were tender without being mushy, and the hash avoided the oily fate that befalls too many iterations of the dish.
So while Samples filled our bellies with delicious food, what it really filled us with was a renewed sense of community, and perhaps that’s what the best local businesses do.
Samples World Bistro. 370 Main St., Longmont, 303-327-9318.