There is perhaps no more consistently hopping dining room between Denver and Boulder than the Village Tavern’s, a fact which I overlooked recently when I made the observation that two other FlatIron Crossing spots—Bloom and Flatz—were the mall’s only culinary destinations.
According to my editor, someone from the Tavern took exception to this snub, perhaps rightly so. There is no question that Village Tavern is nearly always full, a fact which never failed to escape my attention when I used to toil across the way at the now defunct Il Fornaio. I knew about Village Tavern, so why didn’t I include it on my short list?
A recent visit attempted to answer this question. In all my times frequenting Village Tavern, I had never made it past the bustling bar area (that, I assure you, speaks to convenience and not regrettable life habits on my part). What a shame. The dining area is beautiful, evocative of a cavernous and yet still cozy ski lodge.
Most diners are led to stately booths that serve to make almost every experience in the room a largely private one.
The volume of business did, however, have its downside on this night. Just as we were shaking off the cold and settling into our booth, we were greeted by a friendly, perhaps overly energetic, server who began by asking us if we had visited before. She then went directly in her opening monologue telling us about the steakhouse identity of Village Tavern. She then quickly asked us if we would like a “beer-wine-cocktail-glass-of-ice-tea.”
Her intro went by in a blur, and we needed a little more time before settling on a couple glasses of wine: a dark, rich Australian shiraz from Archetype ($9) and a soft Burgundy from Bouchard ($8), both of which were satisfying in their way. Upon their arrival, we were asked if we’d like to start with some “crab-dip-calamari-spring-rolls-or-bruschetta.” Unable to resist this clever upsale, we signed on for some of the latter, which turned out to be delicious. This large, five-piece portion of grilled bread with juicy diced tomato, basil pesto, capers and shaved Grana made for an excellent appetizer at $5.95. Our order of French Onion Soup ($4.45) was similarly impressive, served piping and full of salty goodness.
Our entrées were equally pleasing. A Spinach Pizza ($9.25) lacked the punch of the Bruschetta, but capably and
pleasingly mixed spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and mozzarella. A Maple Cured Pork Chop ($18.95) was huge (two five-ounce chops) and, alongside the housemade apple chutney, delightful in its sweet, mesquite flavor.
Unfortunately, we were unable to save room for some “double-decker-cheesecake-or-crème-brulée.” This was a missed dessert opportunity that didn’t stop me from wondering if I had erred in not mentioning the Tavern as a destination.
So was I wrong?
I don’t think it really matters to tell you the truth. Our experience was one of delicious food delivered with a little too much urgency and a to-the-letter appreciation of the server’s manual. But given the food and its sizeable and devoted clientele, it would appear by many’s definition that Village Tavern is in fact a culinary anchor at the mall.
I say the service approach is a drawback. Regardless, the quality of cooking and menu are reason enough to make the trip to Broomfield.
1 FlatIron Circle, No. 100, Broomfield
Bottom line: The menu shines, the service approach is too scripted.