Frasca in Boulder, CO--trip report
Enter a search for "Frasca" on the Southwest board and you will find one poster who compared those who like Frasca to "lemmings who want to believe that this is cutting edge cuisine but won't admit to reality." Where do I get in the lemming line? A few weeks back three of us dined there and had a wonderful meal in every way. Because we had several miles to drive after dinner, one in our party agreed to abstain from alcohol and be our designated driver. (More about why that is important later).
Our server, a young woman, could not have been more helpful. She took the time to explain every item on the menu and made her suggestions when prodded. She didn't let us down. We started with a plate of salumi for the table--prosciutto, speck and Salumeria Biellese salami--served with rafano (a mild horseradish sauce) and grissini. Everyone loved it.
Next came a crudi of perfectly fresh sliced Hawaiian Kampachi with a shaved fennel salad and Florida tangerine juice. Other starters were hand-made potato gnocchi served with fava beans and a Spanish mackerel crudo and "Zlikorfi"--a veal and fontina cheese ravioli with wilted spinach and ripe bing cherries. We reluctantly passed these plates around, each dish as good as the other, with the nod for best starter going to the ravioli, but not by much.
Entrees proved to be the best course of all. One of us had the butter-roasted line-caught Hawaiian sea bass with a pole bean and toasted almond salad and spring garlic butter glaze--amazing in its simplicity and taste. I had one of Frasca's signature dishes, Long family farm shaved leg of pork with fingerling potatoes, fresh cherries and pancetta vinaigrette. It, too, was very good but not in the same league as our third entree. As I understand it, the chef creates one dish per night of which there are only 21 orders (the entree is actually listed on the menu as "21 Orders"). Our server almost insisted that someone at the table choose that night's selection--house-made, hand-cut tagliatelle with salumi, toasted pistachios and Montasio cheese. Simply unbelievable! Our waiter had described it as the best "macaroni and cheese" we had ever tasted and it was. I also think it is important to note that the "21 Orders" entree which was so highly recommended was by far the least expensive item of all the entrees on the menu that night.
For dessert we had cappuccino along with toasted coconut ice cream, an almond torte with Valrhona chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream and coffee gelato and, finally, a warm chocolate brownie with a frozen malted shake. We left sated to say the least.
Now, back to our temporary teetotaler. We told our server when first seated that only two of us would be drinking wine and that we would be looking for assistance with wines by the glass that would go with the courses we ordered. Without so much as a frown our waiter and the sommelier, Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, gladly recommended wines by the glass to go with each course, including dessert. Tastes before deciding were provided. Overall, a great evening at a restaurant I will return to every time I am in Boulder which is not nearly often enough.
A final word about prices. The poster I referred to above talked about Frasca's "exorbitant" prices. What a joke! Starters ranged from $9 to $20 and entrees from $19 to $31, all perfectly reasonable for the quality of the food (Frasca proudly boasts that they use products grown and produced locally whenever possible) and the overall dining experience: fine dining without attitude or pretense.
I reviewed my original post looking for the phrase "ultimate food nirvana" as a description of Frasca and, whew, it wasn't there. I do stand by all of my actual descriptions, however. As for Flagstaff House, it is fine for what it is. But, to describe it as "cutting edge," especially as compared to Frasca, is just silly.
Mutt - You'll find agreement at http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com.... For my part, I love Frasca and consider myself lucky to have dined there a few times, but I also treasure the ability to decide where to go "tonight" for a fine meal. As you pointed out, we have plenty of those too.
Gimme a break! You make it sound (like the New York Times did a couple of weeks ago) that there were no decent restaurants in Boulder before we were all blessed with the arrival of Mateo, The Kitchen and, ta-da!!!!!!, Frasca. Yes, Frasca is good but hearing my server describe the salami (excuse me, salumi) as "brilliant" almost made me lose it, since I was laughing so hard. Since Bobby Stuckey is a Master Sommelier I let him match wine with each course and he does a fine job. The food is creative and fresh but not necessarily a bargain. Is Frasca excellent? Yes. Is it the ultimate food nirvana? No. Are there other places and chefs in Boulder just as good? Absolutely. Mark Monette at the Flagstaff House is constantly on the cutting edge. Eric Skogan at the new Black Cat - try their tasting menu for a real kick in the ass. Laudisio has been around for a long time. Radek Cerny. Dave Query. John Platt. Kathy Andrade. On & on. Having lived in Boulder since 1968 I get fatigued listening to the constant gush about Frasca. And by the way, their goofy reservation system is infuriating.
Reading your description literally made my mouth water (basically just hearing the work Frasca makes my mouth water).
Without a doubt, this is my favorite restaurant in the world. I have never had less than a stellar experience there (which says a lot, since a restaurant can't be perfect all the time - this one is).
Count yourself lucky to get the Milkshake brownie desert. It isn't available all the time, and is absolutely wonderful. I was bummed that it wasn't available last time I was there.
As far as prices, this place is a great value. The portions aren't huge (go to Cheesecake factory for that), but I have never left hungry (always the opposite, quite full).
They have a prix fix on Monday nights (where they bring in a vintner to push a certain wine). It is a unbelievable value at about $30 for 3 courses, and another $30 for wine pairing (which they will always split into 2 glasses for us, so we don't have to drink and drive). Less than $100 for dinner for 2 (with wine) at such a great place is a spectacular value. The wines are always the best the winery produces BTW, which makes the value that much more spectacular.
Great writeup, which matches my sentiment of how lucky we are to have such a great restaurant in Colorado.
I also agree with bhoward -- while the portions are small, the quality of the ingredients and the cooking are stellar, as is the enthusiastic and knowledgeable service (which was amazing at 10:30 on a Friday night). The employees made us feel like we were guests in their homes. Our waiter wanted us to know and love the food, which isn't your standard Italian; the sommelier wanted us to know and love the wine from the unusual list. I'll be back!