Food News

Head to Nederland for a Weekend Tapas Date Night

The little pink building overlooks the reservoir in Nederland.
The little pink building overlooks the reservoir in Nederland. Staci Berry
As mountain roads begin to thaw and the urge to stretch your legs outside of Denver's city limits builds, direct your car to a treasure in Nederland called Decent Bagel. It’s hard to miss the completely pink building at 95 East 1st Street. East Coast transplants Mike Gebhardt and his daughter Audrey, along with her fiancé, Carl Fritschel, opened the eatery last October when they saw a need for hearty, on-the-go breakfast options in the mountain town. While the eatery's bagels are a great option before heading out for a day of skiing or hiking on one of the many trails in the region, the real treat is the sobremesa menu, which is only offered from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Nederland may be a long distance from Spain (where sobremesa and tapas traditions originate), but the cozy building’s intimate dining area transports the palate abroad with thoughtful execution and instant satisfaction from each dish. The seasonally changing menu lists eight different small plates ($10 each) or an all-inclusive "Send It" option for $75 — a highly recommended date-night route for trying the whole roster.

Sobremesa literally translates to "over the table" and refers to that time spent lingering at the table after a large tapas meal, but at Decent Bagel, it's transformed into the main event, inspired by the trio's travels and memorable meals in Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean region, as well as their motivation to provide a local date-night spot.
click to enlarge The intimate seating area at Decent Bagel is great for post-hiking snacks and imbibing. - STACI BERRY
The intimate seating area at Decent Bagel is great for post-hiking snacks and imbibing.
Staci Berry

"Carl and I were a little bit tired of driving to Boulder or Denver to go on a date, and we thought that if we had a place that had some amazing cocktails and some variety that was still affordable for a date night, then there might be other people who feel the same way, that wish they could go on a date in Nederland," recalls Audrey.

On a recent visit, the meal kicked off with two fresh salads exhibiting vastly different flavor profiles. A nod to the Gebhardts' home state, the house salad stars greens from New York-founded and sustainably grown Gotham Greens. These were topped with garlic-roasted chickpeas, tomatoes and cucumbers and complemented by the light acidity of a red wine vinaigrette. The kale Caesar with crispy panko breadcrumbs offers a sweeter alternative, thanks to the golden raisins that accompany dark-green dinosaur (or lacinato) kale, parmesan, walnuts and lemon juice.

Next, a cup of lentil soup arrived — a well-seasoned reminder that lentils can be versatile and more than a boring legume when properly cooked. It was paired with a warm piece of bread highlighting Decent Bagel’s first love: carbs.
click to enlarge Sobremesa plates include charcuterie, a kale Caesar salad, lentil soup and a house salad. - STACI BERRY
Sobremesa plates include charcuterie, a kale Caesar salad, lentil soup and a house salad.
Staci Berry
Following shortly after was an exemplary charcuterie board with Manchego and Brie cheeses, seasoned pistachios, a sliver of spreadable honey, a date, a cup of olives and a variety of meats including coppa from Denver-based Il Porcellino Salumi. Stacking different charcuterie combinations atop crackers is a perfectly timed mid-meal break — and an ideal opportunity to order another glass of Rioja or perhaps one of the many cheekily named (mainly for the staff's amusement) cocktails such as the popular Persnickety Punch, with Gold Dirt High & Dry gin, pomegranate, lime and cava, or the zero-proof Ginny Weasley, with apple cider, ginger and bubbles.

The second act of the progressive menu transitioned to heartier dishes, starting with a classic Spanish tapa called patatas bravas, golden roasted potato bites served with a perfectly emulsified lemon-garlic aioli and chunky red brava sauce.
click to enlarge Sharing is highly recommended for the filling Send It option at Decent Bagel. - STACI BERRY
Sharing is highly recommended for the filling Send It option at Decent Bagel.
Staci Berry
That was followed by a mezze platter, with crunchy za’atar pita chips to convey a trio of dips — hummus, baba ganoush and tzatziki. Once empty dishes were removed, allowing for more table real estate, the sobremesa concluded with the final two plates: the Tortilla Española, a slice of traditional Spanish omelet consisting of caramelized onion and potato; and a fragrant steak skewer with grilled NY strip accompanied by a chimichurri sauce containing a slight red-pepper kick.

As the menu evolves and changes over time, the quality and locally sourced ingredients will remain a core theme. "[We enjoy] getting to learn about what can be done simply but with a lot of love and care to make it special," explains Carl. "It’s not about being complicated or elaborate; it’s just about using quality products from as many local providers as possible and handling them with care."

With the backdrop of a sunset behind the beautiful Colorado mountains, sobremesa at Decent Bagel is a memorable — and filling — experience.

Decent Bagel is located at 95 East 1st Street in Nederland. It serves bagels from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday, pasta from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, and sobremesa from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information and recommended reservations, visit decentbagel.com.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Staci Berry is a Louisiana transplant living in Denver since 2012. She enjoys fancy feasting with friends and the dirtiest martinis possible.