With patio season upon us, give or take a few thunderstorms, it’s time to find some dishes that taste best when enjoyed outdoors, under clear skies. Humboldt delivers just that. The restaurant’s spacious patio overlooking 17th Avenue gets dappled sunlight thanks to a tall, shady tree, providing the perfect setting for a lazy afternoon lunch. Or for a late-night nosh and bubbles, enjoy the patio's ambient glow from white lights strung from the tree. This week, the "Mushroom & Egg" with a side of crispy broccoli was the perfect partner to my prosecco.
The mushroom and egg dish is a small but flavorful blend of veggies, grains and protein. It’s light and fresh, perfect for spring. A bed of barley and rice and is topped with mixed greens, spring peas, mushrooms, pea puree and a one-hour egg. A light, lemon-honey vinaigrette adds a zesty and slightly sweet punch to the more subtle flavors the grains and mushrooms provide. The pea puree is smooth like a mousse and the spring peas are crisp and very fresh. The one-hour egg looks like a poached egg, but the yolk doesn't spill onto the rest of the dish when it's broken. Instead, it retains its shape but with a far more viscous texture than a hard-boiled yolk. The experience as a whole was flavorful and light.
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Two of Humboldt’s most popular side dishes are the Brussels sprouts and the crispy broccoli. While Brussels sprouts are delicious when done right, they seem to be sprouting on every menu lately — so the broccoli seemed a little more interesting. Humboldt fries the florets lightly for a perfect crunch without the heavy, greasy coating that many fried vegetable dishes can have. And a pepperoncini aioli is rationed well over the veggies so as not to overwhelm with sauce. A tangy, citrus note from the pickled peppers brightens the aioli and adds a lightness to the broccoli.
Humboldt captures the qualities of early summer in both its atmosphere and meatless cuisine. Sipping a beer, wine or cocktail while enjoying an array of fresh flavors on a relaxing patio is almost an inalienable right for Denverites during spring and summer evenings. Yes, go do all the active things, just don’t forget to make an experience out of your dinner from time to time.