After taking a friend to 95a in Lafayette, so named because of the nearby intersection of 95th and Arapaho, she remarked that she would never have known it was there without my intervention, despite living just a few miles away. If you haven’t been out to explore the magical confluence at this intersection that seems to breed good restaurants, you ought to make the trek.
95a’s dining room is bright and modern with a large patio overlooking tree-dotted green space for warmer days. The menu covers everything from weekend brunch to daily lunch and dinner with an impressive array of additional small plates any time and good happy hour specials. It seems particularly popular with locals who like to nosh in the bar.
Although the dinner menu offers a selection of salads, pastas and Continental classics like filet au poivre and trout almandine, all priced under $20, we couldn’t help but be swayed by the long list of tapas. Hot and cold, the menu features more than 30 small plates that are perfect for passing (or keeping to yourself).
We loved the perfectly crispy, salty, addictive skinny shoestring fries; the tempura fried avocado and green chile, which managed to be crunchy and creamy at the same time; and the classic sweet-savory combo of bacon-wrapped dates. We also sampled the night’s special: an inventive seasonal risotto with chunks of diced cucumber that tasted fresh and green, like early spring, a savory strawberry compote and an unfortunately overdone scallop.
Back for brunch, it was hit or miss. The fried egg sammy, served open faced with bacon, avocado and the smoky chipotle “95a sauce,” was exactly the sort of slightly greasy, savory concoction I’d want as a perfect hangover cure. The burrito, on the other hand, should have been a flavor blockbuster, with pulled pork, roasted red peppers and white cheddar, but fell far from expectations, especially with the addition of far overcooked scrambled eggs (to the point of being brown and crunchy) and a gummy tortilla.
I returned for lunch, thinking of sushi, but discovered there really isn’t a separate sushi bar any longer (the space wasn’t open any of the times we visited), though you can still order sushi and rolls from the cold tapas menu. We ended up with a sliced lamb sandwich full of tender, rich slices of lamb, feta and tatziki sauce, extra velvety white macaroni and cheese and a crunchy fried fish sandwich.
For a night out with plates of tapas and a couple of glasses of wine (bottles are half price on Wednesdays), I would definitely be back to 95a. But I would caution the kitchen to pay a little more attention to all the plates it serves; while some were excellent, others were bordering on bad, and there shouldn’t be that much variation on one menu.