Having food allergies and sensitivities – gluten and lactose intolerance, for instance – can make going out to eat a real pain. Just figuring out what on the menu you CAN eat is a laborious effort that involves extensive interviews of wait staff about how dishes are prepared, finding out what ingredients are in sauces and entrées (is that fried in peanut oil? Does the sauce have plain yogurt in it?) all in an attempt to get some assurance that your dinner out isn’t going to double you over in gastronomic pain or, worse, send you to the hospital.
That’s what makes Blooming Beets Kitchen, just south of Iris/Diagonal Highway on 30th Street in Boulder, a refreshing change for those with food sensitivities. Right on the menu you’re assured that what you’re about to choose from is gluten-free, grain free and mostly organic (in short, a perfect fit for those seeking a paleo diet). And as for dairy, that’s limited to organic, grass-fed butter used in a few dishes that your server can tell you about. To further eliminate the barrage of questions, there’s even a vegetarian dinner menu that touts the absence of “processed seed oils, corn or soy” as well as being mostly dairy free, GMO free and grown without pesticides and fertilizers.
“We go to a lot of trouble sourcing out our ingredients,” said Donna Merton, who is a server but also helps with menu development. “And cashew cream replaces the dairy in a lot of things, like our dressings.”
On a recent visit for brunch, the sunny-side-up egg atop a perfectly medium grass fed burger was slathered in a rich, creamy “Hollandaise sauce” and served on a bed of “veggie hash” made of sautéed spinach, crispy sweet potatoes, roasted beets and sautéed onions.
Being accustomed to the deep orange color and rich flavor of my homegrown egg yolks, a good Hollandaise (or mayonnaise, for that matter) is one of my yardsticks for assessing an eatery’s quality. The Blooming Beets version passed in spades. The rich, yolky flavor was complemented nicely with the addition of a smoky paprika (sourced from California, which resulted in an orange hue due to the deep red color of the spice) and was held together perfectly — sans butter! — in an avocado oil emulsion. At no time did the Hollandaise break, which can be a problem when using butter, even clarified butter. The resulting texture was velvety smooth with a rich, complex collection of flavors ranging from smoky and somewhat sweet to a hint of peppery heat with an acidic bite of cider vinegar.
Blooming Beets Kitchen is the executed vision of Iva Paleckova who, with her husband, followed her self-immersion into healthy eating and cooking by, what else?, opening a restaurant. Although small (capacity is only about 30) and decked out in beetle kill pine, repurposed pallets, corrugated metal and salvaged hardware, it’s obvious from the consistent crowds that fill Blooming Beets for lunch/brunch (11-2) and dinner (5-8; closed Mondays) has struck a chord with the healthy living and eating crowd in Boulder.
And eating Paleo doesn’t mean giving up on goodies like booze and dessert. The Blooming Beets wine list, while not extensive, is diverse and includes selections from Boulder based Bookcliff and What We Love vineyards as well as vintages from California, Oregon, New Zealand, Spain and France. A variety of ciders are also on hand, as well as gluten-free pale ale, India pale ale and lager from Omission.
And while the desserts are missing dairy, gluten, grains and processed seed oils, they aren’t missing any of the flavor or decadence you want in an after-dinner treat. Chocolate lovers will not want to pass on the “Killer Queen” no flour, molten chocolate lava cake, complete with coconut ice cream and almond-infused caramel and pecans. Warm, smooth and rich, the Killer Queen will scratch any cocoa itch you may have.
Yes, eating a Paleo diet could be considered the latest in healthy fads. But judging from the consistent crowds lining up for the delicious and expertly prepared dishes at the Blooming Beet Kitchen, it’s not one that looks to be fading anytime soon.