Rolling into the parking lot of the Wildflowers Café and Tea Room at the Hilltop Inn, perched alone atop one of the nobs that make up the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, I was full of anticipation. An authentic United Kingdom menu? Beers from the old country? A spot of tea to finish?
Imagine my crestfallen, empty stare as I was told, at 12:30 on a Tuesday, that there would be no space for me. “Really?” I whimpered. I was handed a card and urged to make a reservation for later in the week.
This, of course, I did, and came back two days later even more agog with anticipation. How does this little house on the prairie, about which I had never heard a single word, pack its dining room full of reservations, on a Tuesday? It was more than I could puzzle out; that is, until I
On this visit, I was welcomed warmly and led to a delicate little table for two alongside one of the windows. Most of the tables are larger, anticipating groups of greater size, of which there were many on this day as well. In addition to serving lunch and dinner, after all, the Hilltop also doubles as a conference and events center and is clearly hooked in to the local business environment. Aside from the hosts and myself, I’m pretty sure everyone else wore a nametag to lunch.
This is not to say that the space is anything but the height of warmth and personality. Evocative of the most homely of Commonwealth dining rooms, the main space at Wildflowers is a study in the décor and feel of the British Isles. Decorative plates line the walls, and beautiful china and tea sets sit with panache in a half dozen or so chests and cabinets. The odd bit of lattice work and a healthy dose of plastic green ivy remind one of the unassuming and overwhelming comfort of the local pub.
So does the menu. Featuring dishes from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland—and even finding room for, believe it or not, a vegetarian option—the docket at Wildflowers is an homage to the kind of stick-to-yer-ribs, no nonsense food that few chefs in this country have paid serious attention to.
My turning away two days earlier proved a boon. On this day, it was cold and snowy, and nothing could have been better than a pint of Tetley’s (a Yorkshire cream ale, $4.50) and a big, steaming bowl of potato and leek soup ($3.95). Served alongside a complimentary garlic and herb scone (right out of the oven), the soup, after a healthy dash of both salt and pepper, was very nice indeed. Like most of the Old Empire’s offerings, it relies on the diner to season to taste, but this should not be read as a criticism.
The same holds true for my second course, the always reliable Shepherd’s Pie (one of a series of “Londoner” pies, $8.95). Packed with ground beef, peas, mashed potatoes, tasty gravy and just a little bit of cheese, this dish was totally satisfying in its brash simplicity.
I was utterly full at this point, of course, but couldn’t steer clear of the enticing Pudding Menu, from which I chose the colorfully named Spotted Dick ($4.95), a delicious mélange of sweet spongecake, decadent pastry cream, and raisins. Alongside a pot of the ol’ black stuff (that’s tea, folks, not the Guinness), it allowed me to while away the early afternoon in grand style.
Good thing I had a reservation this time around.
Wildflowers Tea Room and Restaurant
9009 Metro Airport Ave., Broomfield
Bottom line: This straightforward cuisine is not for everyone, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier or more unique dining experience in the Front Range.