First look: Former Bitter Bar big shot Noah Heaney lands at Harold's and the Bayonet Room, a new restaurant and lounge in Longmont

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And the Bayonet Room is smashing, with its brothel-red banquettes and retro swivel stools, soft lighting, tin ceiling and antiquated bar augmented by a chalkboard scroll of spirits. Suffice to say, it defies just about everything you'd expect from a hotel bar. There's even an old-fashioned telephone booth with a pull-down seat for those who want to slink off and have a private conversation. And the dining room, framed with windows, some of which overlook the large covered patio with a fire pit, and walled with shelves that hold Heaney's own jams and preserves, hits the mark, too.

"The idea was to open something exciting in Longmont, something different, and we definitely wanted to incorporate some fun and interesting touches and completely redo what was here before," says Heaney. And the menu, he adds, is also worlds away from its predecessor. "We wanted a menu that focused on seasonality, local ingredients and passion."

They hired Jef Forsberg, the former owner-chef of the defunct Sunflower in Boulder to oversee the kitchen, which, says Forsbeg, is dedicated to "integrity." And his food, a gastropub-y collection of market-motivated dishes, many of which are designed for sharing, is a big step up from its prior incarnation, with chicken liver mousse, "three-interpretations" of deviled eggs, brandade, borscht and classic English brawn rounding out a citified menu that snubs filets, salmon and wasabi-crusted ahi tuna. Everything, from the stocks to the ketchup to the jams, is made in-house, and regular jaunts to the farmers' markets are par for the course. "My focus is using the freshest ingredients I can find and not manipulating them too much," notes Forsberg.

The same philosophies apply to Heaney's craft cocktail list, which is complemented by craft beers and a boutique wine program with offbeat selections. Heaney's technique-driven cocktails benefit, not surprisingly, from homemade bitters, fresh herbs, syrups, clever garnishes and small batch spirits, and they're the kind of cocktails -- strong and convincing -- that make you extremely grateful for the proximity of a hotel -- and a bed.

I had the opportunity to sample some of Heaney's cocktails, as well as several of Forsberg's dishes, last week, and all I can say is that I wish this place was in my neighborhood. Here's a first look of the space, the cocktails and the food. It's definitely worth the journey.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson