The citywide eating orgy official known as Denver Restaurant Week doesn't start for another few months, but we don't need to wait until the end of February to take advantage of a multitude of three-course, $30 meals. Boulder's First Bite begins next Friday, November 13, with more than forty participating restaurants. And First Bite dinners are a buck less than Denver's already-low rate: Boulder's restaurant week rings in at only $29 per meal.
This year First Bite is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and there have been plenty of changes over the past decade. Some of the city's top eateries — like Basta, the Kitchen, Arugula and chef Bradford Heap's trio of Salt, Colterra and Wild Standard — are participating, and you'll also find a couple of beer destinations, too, with Bru Hand Built Ales & Eats and Fate Brewing.
Boulder's venerable Greenbriar Inn is among the choices; in fact, owners Philip and Emma Goddard have made sure their restaurant has been on First Bite's roster every year since the beginning. "First Bite has been a really positive experience for our staff and our guests," Philip Goddard explains. "It is planned well and comes at a slow time of year. It gets our whole staff warmed up for our very busy holiday schedule."
The Greenbriar has been part of Boulder's restaurant landscape since 1967; Goddard came on board in 1981 as a sous chef and left in 1989 after rising to chef de cuisine. In 1995 he bought the place, so this fall marks his twenty-year anniversary as owner as well as ten years of partnering with First Bite. Chef Matt Ochs now heads the kitchen, and he's offering a choice of Atlantic salmon, roasted chicken "pot pie" tart, brown-butter roasted butternut squash gnocchi, or block-cut New York steak (for $5 extra) as entrees, along with several starter and dessert choices.
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Goddard notes that the Inn has maintained 7,000 square feet of pesticide-free vegetable gardens on the property since the year after he bought the restaurant, making it one of the first farm-to-table eateries in the region. Some of the fall flavors on the First Bite menu will come from the last of the vegetables harvested this year.
He also points out that the restaurant maintains a "monster wine cellar" and has won Wine Spectator magazine's Award of Excellence for eighteen straight years because of its selection of more than 950 labels. The Inn offers 20 percent off all wines by the bottle every Wednesday — and that special will apply during First Bite week as well.
While there are certainly plenty of great options in Boulder's bustling heart for First Bite, the Greenbriar Inn offers a slower pace with old-world charm. (The restaurant's building dates to 1873 and sits on twenty acres of land.) With good deals all around town, there's no reason not to sample a little Boulder history as well as its trendsetting new places. First Bite runs from November 13 through November 21; find out more at firstbiteboulder.com.