Walking down the Pearl Street Mall, I’d never paid much attention to 14th Street Bar and Grill. Its patio tables always seemed packed beneath its cheerful yellow awnings, but I never looked past the façade. How wrong I was to pass it by.
As we ducked in and asked for a table on a cool Sunday evening, I looked around and thought to myself that this was exactly the sort of place I would enjoy: hip without feeling pretentious; cool without seeming uninviting to the uninitiated. The hostess took us back to perhaps the best table in the house, right at the corner of two windows, looking out onto the mall; there is certainly something to be said for taking in a restaurant when not at its peak of business.
Our server was cheerful, efficient and friendly, making us feel like regulars on our first visit. We started with the stuffed mushrooms, which she proclaimed an excellent choice, and she was right. Crimini mushroom caps, stuffed with spinach, finely chopped walnuts and gorgonzola cheese were served piping hot from the wood-fire oven and cleverly placed atop a fresh spinach leaf for easy snatching.
“That’s my favorite pizza,” our server confided as I ordered the grilled chicken breast pizza. Layered with mozzarella and fontina cheeses over a deliciously chewy hand-tossed crust, the pizza was unlike any other I’ve ever had, topped with pieces of fresh grilled chicken, gorgonzola, whole cloves of garlic roasted to sweetness, fresh greens and paper-thin slices of lemon. The side-portion of the 14th Street salad that I ordered complimented the pizza with more roasted garlic, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes and very thinly sliced potato.
My husband’s hot pastrami on rye was a sculptural mound of deli-thin pastrami on beautifully marbled rye and a generous serving of mustard on the side. Pepperoncini’s skewered to each half of the sandwich made him a happy camper, as did the paper cone of crisp salt and vinegar potato chips served on the side.
The only slight disappointment of the evening was the peach and raspberry warm fruit crisp we ordered for dessert. The fruit itself was overly sweet, almost like eating hot jam, while the “crisp” portion was a thin crust of what tasted like raw oats and even more sugar barely dusted across the top. Not terrible, by any stretch of the imagination, but also not on par with the rest of our meal.
Of course, now that I know this bastion of light suppers and heavenly pizzas exists beneath the yellow awnings at the corner of 14th and Pearl, I will hardly be likely to pass it by again. In fact, I expect I will be dreaming of perfect pizzas topped with gorgonzola and lemon slices until the opportunity arises for me to dine there again.
14th Street Bar and Grill
1400 Pearl St., Boulder
Three and a Half Stars
Bottom Line: Don’t pass this by: tasty supper fare make this a Pearl Street destination.