Openings and Closings

Riffs Urban Fare is now open in Boulder

When the beloved Book End Cafe shut its doors on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder after a twenty-year run, owners Phil and Christine Shull didn't give up the space. Instead, they teamed up with John Platt, the chef-owner of Q's Restaurant in the Hotel Boulderado to create an entirely new concept.

The partners overhauled the space, preserving a little bit of the character of the Book End -- including the original brick walls of the historic building -- while sleekly updating the narrow spot with booths, warm lighting and a bar. The culmination of their efforts resulted in Riffs Urban Fare, which opened last week.

"We're serving up liberal appetizer-sized portions of American cuisine with an international influence, which basically means we don't have to sit inside of a box," explains Bea Motola, the restaurant's general manager. Initial menu entries, then, include green "pea" hummus with jalapeno soffrito and parsley flatbread, corn and crab fritters, clam and bacon pizza and a lamb kebab that Motola cites as her personal favorite. Those dishes, she also notes, are made from as many local ingredients as possible, a commitment that also extends behind the bar.

"Our beers are predominantly local, and 50 percent of our spirits are also local," says Motola. In addition, Riffs has a sizable wine list featuring thirty selections by the glass that come from boutique and lesser-known wineries with the goal of remaining in an affordable range.

Motola says the first week has been a busy one, what with parents' weekend at CU and the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, so she hasn't decided whether it will have an official grand opening celebration.

Riffs is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk