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boulder: oak at fourteenth

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

It used to be when someone would suggest a mediocre place to meet for a meal, I’d say “sure”, because I wanted to be agreeable and nice and easy. Well, after years of walking away from a meal wondering why I wasted good money on it, I have decided not to do that anymore. Screw that. I’m lucky to live near a town (city) full of terrific restaurants. Usually, our problem is deciding where to go as we run down the list of favorites. A few months ago, my pal Kathya sent me a text that she and her husband had eaten at Oak, and that it was fantastic. So one day Jeremy and I were looking for a place to enjoy a late lunch and I said, “Let’s try Oak.”

oak at fourteenth and pearl

outdoor seating for the days of finer weather

Oak sits on the corner of Pearl and Fourteenth Streets in downtown Boulder. It’s been there for a while and I remember having lunch at Oak a few years ago with a friend, but nothing more than that. There was a destructive fire, Oak re-opened, and I began hearing great things about their food. It’s got a clean, contemporary, open interior with a main dining room and a smaller adjacent dining room. From the main dining room, you have a view into the open kitchen, the extensive bar, or out the picture windows onto Pearl Street’s shenanigans.

housemade passion fruit and lemongrass soda (jeremy’s cocktail in background)

On our first visit to Oak, we hit their midday menu (2:30-5:30 pm) and the first thing that sucked me in was the housemade passion fruit and lemongrass soda. Jeremy got a “surprise me” cocktail from the bar and I think he wasn’t so thrilled with the surprise. My soda was not overly sweet and beautifully passion fruity. The lemongrass was fairly understated, but… PASSION FRUIT! I have a soda about once every six months, yet Oak managed to list two housemade sodas that I cannae resist: passion fruit, and ginger beer. The ginger beer was spot on spicy, fresh, not too sweet, peppy – pretty much the second best I’ve had (first is Rachel’s Ginger Beer which I thoroughly enjoyed at Delancey in Seattle). And then there were the pickles…

holy mother of whoa, fried pickles with green goddess aioli

shaved kale and honeycrisp apple salad with togarashi, parmesan, and candied almonds

fried padrons on sausage and harissa

Over the course of a couple of visits, we sampled a few of the appetizers or small plates Oak had on offer. Let me confess, we have ordered the fried pickles every time, because they are THAT GOOD. The pickle slices are crisp and dilly and thick and big, coated in a crunchy, hot batter. It is my favorite item on the menu and that is saying a lot because the food at Oak is pretty much outstanding. Something so simple as a shaved kale salad was prepared to perfection. The padron peppers were lightly charred and served on a bed of aromatic sausage and delightful harissa. The menu has an impressive variety without being overwhelmingly ridiculous or underwhelmingly bland like most chain restaurants. It was tough choosing among the entrées.

shrimp po’ boy with champagne mango, spicy sambal, cilantro aioli

grilled double cheeseburger, tender belly farm bacon, gruyère, harissa aioli

**Jump for more butter**

deli zone’s new yorker

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

I bet you thought the sandwich chronicles were over, huh? No, I’ve just been busy. Admittedly, I took a short break from sandwiches for a few weeks and there were also a couple duds (I’m not recommending those here). But we’re back at it this week with Deli Zone, known for their famous Brooklyn heroes. I had never heard of it, despite seeing it next door to the Homebrew shop where I buy bottles for my vodka infusions on a regular basis. My friend, Daniel (@boinzy on Twitter), recommended it to me when he learned of my sandwich research.

prepare to enter the deli zone

There are three locations in Boulder and several more around Colorado (Denver, Broomfield, Longmont). I went to the one on Valmont (next door to Hop To It Homebrew), tucked away in a generic strip mall. There is a handful of seating inside and two tables outside. It didn’t look busy when I walked in, but during the short time I perused the menu and placed my order a steady stream of people came in to pick up sandwiches or place their own orders.

menu boards sorted by filling

Deli Zone serves breakfast all day, which is good news for brekkie lovers. The rest of the menu is dedicated mostly to the sandwiches, which are broken down by their main filling. Sandwiches come in two generous sizes: medium is 8-inches and large is 14-inches. That’s alotta sandwich! You have a choice in bread from their signature French bread, white or wheat, sourdough, marble rye, poppy seed kaiser roll, or a low-carb wrap. There are vegetarian options too. I stood at the counter debating until I grabbed one of the employees and asked what their best sandwiches are. He squinted back at the board and thought for a second, The Reuben and the New Yorker were two of the most popular. I kinda had my heart set on 42nd Street or Yankee, but okay… I went for the New Yorker.

the new yorker: corned beef and pastrami

To the sandwich: I honestly didn’t think there could be a sandwich to rival Snarf’s, but this is good sandwich. They are different sandwiches, but they are both excellent. The French bread is beautifully crusty on the outside and pillow soft on the inside. It is stuffed full of thinly sliced corned beef and pastrami with the coleslaw, dijonaisse, and Swiss cheese crammed in there for good measure. It’s the kind of sandwich that drips down your hand and wrist – juicy. And it’s hot which makes it extra delectable as you scarf it down. Fantastic! I highly recommend a Deli Zone sandwich.

Info: Find Deli Zone at three Boulder locations:

1) Baseline: 4800 Baseline Rd., Suite D-104, 7:30am-8:00pm daily, 303.499.9213
2) The Hill: 1322 College Ave., 7:30am-8:00pm Monday-Saturday, 9:00am – 8:00pm Sunday, 303.449.6952
3) Valmont: 2900 Valmont Rd., Suite D1, 7:30am-8:00pm Monday-Friday, 8:00am-6:00pm Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm Sunday, 303.447.9349

Full Disclosure: My opinions. No comps for the chomps.

Previous sandwich research:

1) The Pinyon’s fried chicken sandwich (sadly, now closed)
2) Cafe Blue’s blackened tuna sandwich
3) Frasca Caffè’s Italiano panini caldi
4) Snarf’s pastrami and Swiss sandwich
5) Cured’s Spicy Frenchman sandwich
6) Dish Gourmet’s Reuben sandwich

sandwich chronicles: dish gourmet’s reuben

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

For this week’s sandwich pick, I’m still hanging about on East Pearl Street (that is, east of the Pearl Street pedestrian mall). Walk a few blocks east from Cured and you’ll find Dish Gourmet on the south side of the street. It’s a cute little deli (and catering business), bright with natural light, tucked in among the leafy trees this time of year.

dish gourmet

Step inside and you’re greeted with a handful of high tables for patrons to enjoy their orders. There is also patio seating outside which people take advantage of during the glorious weather months in Boulder. A large menu board hangs up high above the counter where you order, listing all of the tempting sandwiches that Dish can handcraft for you. You also have the option for a half sandwich in case you want to have some soup or salad and don’t want to explode. They have breakfast options too, but I haven’t tried those. Gluten-free? You can request any sandwich on their house-baked gluten-free bread. Vegetarian? Plenty of vegetarian sandwiches on offer. And there are many enticing homemade salads and sides in the display case next to the order counter.

it can be difficult to choose

I worked my way around the menu a few times trying sandwiches like the Mapleton (roast beef, white cheddar, vegetables on ciabatta), the Boulder bbq brisket (beef brisket, caramelized onions, white cheddar, coleslaw on ciabatta), the Kenai (house-cured Norwegian salmon, dill cream cheese, vegetables on baguette). My buddy Jason tried the Cuban. In the end, I had to go with their Reuben. Classic, right? It also happens to be one of their most popular sandwiches.

the reuben

To the sandwich: While the other sandwiches I had tried were solid, the Reuben was a step above. The corned beef was meaty and fresh. You know how corned beef can look like it was pressed and sliced and sold in a grocery store deli? This was not that. A generous amount was topped with a slightly sweet coleslaw, French Emmental, and a little Russian dresing. All of this was crammed between two slices of their heavenly pumpernickel. I don’t always go for pumpernickel, but theirs had golden raisins dotting the bread which for some reason knocked my socks clear off when devoured with everything else. Fantastically juicy and substantial as sandwiches go.

All of their sandwiches come with potato chips and a pickle (upon request) or you can substitute the chips with potato salad, pasta salad, or a green salad for an additional $1.25. I’m not a fan of their pickles. I love pickles, but these were brined and not especially vinegary or spicy, and the vinegar is what I love most about any pickle. Despite the lackluster pickle, I think there is a sandwich for everyone here. And if you aren’t a sandwich person (I can’t even imagine) then consider their soups or salads and most definitely have a gander at the sides in the display case.

hours of operation

Where: You can find Dish Gourmet at 1918 Pearl Street (Boulder, Colorado 80302) a few blocks east of the Pearl Street pedestrian mall.

When: Dish is open 9am – 6pm Monday – Friday, 11am – 4pm Saturday. DISH IS CLOSED SUNDAYS.

Contact: Call Dish Gourmet at 720.565.5933. Visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @dishgourmet.

Full Disclosure: My opinions. No comps for the chomps.

Previous sandwich research:

1) The Pinyon’s fried chicken sandwich (sadly, now closed)
2) Cafe Blue’s blackened tuna sandwich
3) Frasca Caffè’s Italiano panini caldi
4) Snarf’s pastrami and Swiss sandwich
5) Cured’s Spicy Frenchman sandwich