I count myself lucky to be one of the first diners to sit down at Wild Standard, Bradford Heap’s sustainable seafood-centric eatery that’s poised to open in Boulder on September 23. Heap and his partner Carol Vilate, who are also the co-owners of Salt and Colterra, have designed a concept and dining room meant to bring people together to share food and drink in a setting not unlike an upscale dinner party. “We wanted a brand-new experience that would take hospitality to a whole new level, so that people feel welcomed and catered to in an intimate but really cool setting that’s fun, cozy and interactive all at the same time,” Heap says.
Although lunch service won’t begin until later this fall, dinner is ready to go with guests seated ideally around 5, 7, and 9 p.m. Each party is ushered to its own nook, table, or booth in an open room anchored by a breezy bar. Then the fun really begins. Diners are first offered the choice of creating their own cocktails from a menu where they choose from three regions (currently India, China, or the Pacific Northwest) for the cocktail base. Then guests select spice blends with names like Golden Spice, Deep Mystery, and Orchard N’ Woods to capture the essence of each destination. Finally they choose the potency, from alcohol-free to high octane, and add in (or not) a favorite spirit.
Trays of hors d’oeuvres and carts of both small and large plates (most of which feature seafood flown in daily from both coasts) begin circling the room. The menu will change constantly, even over the course of the night, but I recommend the seared Alaskan halibut with cauliflower and caper lemon brown butter; Alaskan spot prawns; oysters from the raw bar; and pan-seared Hawaiian grouper with coconut green curry and jasmine rice. Carefully finessed vegetable dishes like Montana morel and sweet corn risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano; watermelon salad with cucumber, pistachios, basil seed caviar, and radish; and kaya toast with coconut jam and local vegetables will drive 30 to 40 percent of the menu. Omnivores will love the large plates of wood-fired steak salad with late summer vegetables or the free-range Pok Pok chicken with local greens, cilantro, mint, and basil.
If something catches your eye, grab it, because that dish may not come around again. The ever-changing menu keeps dinner fun, fresh, and filled with interaction. Wild Standard mixes up the restaurant format and brings some splash to the Boulder dining scene.
Tip: As is true of all of the menus at Salt and Colterra, Heap sources GMO-free and sustainable ingredients for Wild Standard.
1043 S. Pearl Street, Boulder, 303-638- 8372