Cafe Society

Boulder's SALT is now the earth of chef Bradford Heap

Our listage of new restaurants that opened in August is lengthy, and September is shaping up nicely, too, especially with the very new opening of SALT Bistro, which served its first lunch on Tuesday in the former Tom Tavern's space, the iconic Boulder burger joint and bar that occupied the corner at 1047 Pearl Street for fifty years. 

Owner-exec chef Bradford Heap, who also runs Colterra in Niwot, had hoped to open Salt back in May, but Heap now says that was nothing more than pure wishful thinking. "None of my projections were based on reality, just my desires," Heap joked, adding that the demolition of the dress shop next door -- now the kitchen -- didn't exactly move things along.

But now Heap is off and cooking in an open kitchen bedecked with a wood-fired oven turning out flat breads, roasted vegetables and even pastas and a wood-burning rotisserie and grill for his fish, burgers, beef, pork and half chickens -- and he's making the most of the foot traffic. "We're doing fun, affordable, simple, seasonal food and supporting those that do right by Mother Nature," says Heap, who incorporates many of the same practices at Colterra. "Just call me Johnny Local."

And to prove his point, Heap's menu, which will change weekly, is inked with the local purveyors -- Full Circle Farm, Oxford Farm, Wisdom Poultry, Cure Farm, Munson Farm, Haystack Mountain, First Fruits Organic Farms, Long Farms, Lasater Ranch (you get the idea) -- from whence his beef, chicken, pig, cheeses, fruits and vegetables come. "We're taking our food away from corporate greed and making good choices by buying as much as we can on a local level," Heap explained.

He's also paying homage to Tom Eldridge, who opened the tavern in 1959 and ran the operation until he passed away in 2007 from a brain tumor, by having a burger on the menu that he's named "Tom's Tavern Burger." "I planned to do that from day one," said Heap.

As for the name of the restaurant (Heap had originally planned to call it Terra on Pearl), it's a long story that's discussed in depth on the menu. But the short version, notes Heap, is that salt has been "civilizing taste for over 6,000 years ... and is necessary for the survival of all known living creatures." You'll have plenty of time to read all about it, since SALT is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The web site is still in its construction stages, but you can call 303-444-7258 for reservations and more information.