Last night, we attended a benefit dinner for Slow Food Boulder at Cafe Aion on the Hill. Andra and I had not yet been to Cafe Aion, so it was a great chance to get to know the restaurant—and it’s delicious food.
Cafe Aion specializes in tapas-style small plate dishes, which we sampled in a family atmosphere, passing plates and asking for seconds. For stand-up nibbles, we sampled house-cured olives, pan-fried almonds with smoked paprika, house-made mortadella and chicken liver pate, and house-made dilly beans and pickled onions. If you’re noticing a trend here, it’s that just about everything served at Cafe Aion is house-made, from the olives, preserved lemons and cured meats right down to the sourdough baguettes—made from a sourdough starter smuggled into this country from France by the owner of Burnt Toast, and bequeathed to the owners of Cafe Aion when they took over the space.
Speaking of the space, it’s nearly unrecognizable from it’s former incarnation, with a bit of an industrial loft vibe—corrugated steel on the bar and exposed bricks on the walls—but warmed up with a lush wood floor, wood top to the bar, and crackling fireplace.
Dinner wasn’t served so much in courses as in waves. We sampled pumpkin fritters with a rich walnut aillade that we could have happily eaten with a spoon, fried cauliflower with saffron yogurt, and braised greens with a fascinating breadcrumb salsa.
As far as protein was concerned, the harissa roasted chicken wings, served with a creamy yogurt dipping sauce were my favorite, followed by the Moroccan spiced pork with apricots.
And, of course, we were treated to an amazing array of desserts, including a flourless chocolate cake that absolutely melted in the mouth—served with a tangy yogurt that perfectly cut the rich chocolate. Also on the menu were a tart apple crostada with Chantilly cream and the most perfect, fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies ever.
Most of the plates we tasted are available on their regular menu—with the notable exception of the chocolate chip cookies, and believe me when I say we need to start a write-in campaign to make those little dandies available to the masses.