Al Fresco Dining: Colterra

June 7 2011, 11:30 AM

There are plenty of reasons to enjoy Colterra this time of year, from the peaceful patio setting (think 100-year-old trees and a large herb-and-vegetable garden) to the new value-laden happy hour. 

Tasting Hour offers guests more than “just a little something,” with generous portions of some of the regular menu’s best options for just $2 to $6. Don’t miss the braised boneless never never short ribs (so named because the meat used never contains growth hormones or unnatural byproducts), which are seared, deglazed with red and Madeira wines, and braised for hours before being plated with a rich porcini and Madeira jus and a wedge of crispy polenta.

For something lighter, order the spring vegetable gnocchi: Hazel Dell mushrooms, sugar snap peas, asparagus tips, carrots, and caramelized fennel are tossed gently with basil pesto and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or, go for the all-natural Madras curried chicken salad, which combines carrots, grapes, buttered walnuts, and Honeycrisp apples in a homemade curry sauce, all served atop organic Oxford Gardens greens with a drizzle of champagne vinaigrette.

Tip: During Tasting Hours (weekdays, from 4 to 6:30 p.m., and weekends, from 2 to 6:30 p.m.), house wines and premium cocktails are a steal at $3.75, but my recommendation is the white sangria—for just a quarter more.

210 Franklin St., Niwot, 303-652-0777