Spring weather is finally upon us, and with flowers and cool breezes come new menus featuring fresh produce and light flavors. Here are three recent menu updates — from a Boulder Italian restaurant, a museum eatery and a Highland neighborhood gem.
2785 Iris Avenue, Boulder
After a remodel at the beginning of the year, Arugula relaunched this month with a new chef and a new menu. Chef/restaurateur Alec Schuler still owns the north Boulder Italian eatery (along with breakfast destination Tangerine just a couple of doors down), but he's handed over the kitchen to executive chef Sven Hedenas, whose family owned the 14th Street Bar & Grill on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall. The dining room has gotten a lively update, with chalk murals from artist Bryce Widom and sculptures by Javan Stackley, made from antique kitchen tools collected by Schuler.
While Arugula has always been dedicated to spotlighting local produce from the Boulder Valley, Schuler and Hedenas are amping up their locavore leanings by creating new menus every Tuesday and Friday, bringing in fresh ingredients from nearby markets and farms to capture seasonal flavors in each dish. A butter-lettuce salad one week may morph into a different variety of greens the next, and peas and asparagus could crop up on the same plate, freshly rinsed of dirt. And there will always be two dishes created specifically to pair with a wine by the glass selected by wine director Ari Karra.
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
Restaurateur Kevin Taylor's modern, airy dining room on the ground floor of the Denver Art Museum just added brunch on the weekends, with service from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Start off with bottomless mimosas for $14 or splurge on a $7 blackberry mimosa before selecting from appetizers, a classic brunch roster or less breakfasty lunch items. Carrot-cake French toast with pecan-coconut streusel and cream-cheese mousse makes for a sweet start, followed by rock shrimp and grits Benedict with Spanish chorizo and poblano Hollandaise. Or go with delicate soft egg ravioli, herb-ricotta mousse and black-truffle butter.
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Central Bistro & Bar
1691 Central Street
Chef Jesse Vega just introduced his new spring menu at this LoHi restaurant, which manages to feel like a friendly, neighborhood joint while exuding urban attitude in both its ambience and menu. April ushers in a fried green tomato salad with pea shoots, baby romaine and herbed buttermilk dressing; calamari rings stuffed with Argentinian chorizo atop crispy rice with shaved fennel; and piri piri octopus with avocado, preserved tomatoes and garlic crostini, to name just a few of the new dishes. But don't fill up on small plates before you have a chance to sample the skate cheek with crispy yuca and Peruvian kimchi.