Restaurant Redux: Flagstaff House

June 2 2014, 10:30 AM

In operation for 40-plus years, the Flagstaff House is known as an iconic dining destination. Three generations of the Monette family have transformed what began as a teacher's summer retreat overlooking Boulder to a place where locals celebrate life's noteworthy moments. Scott Monette, general manager and partner, claims "We see generations—lifetimes—from births to graduations to weddings to funerals here." Indeed, the windowed corner table overlooking the city is one of Boulder's most coveted proposal spots.

With such a storied history, it's clear the Flagstaff House has been doing something right all along. But even treasures sometimes need a revamp, and the restaurant recently underwent one to refresh the experience. The Monettes wanted to incorporate a clean, contemporary look into the new design, something they achieved using glass, cherry wood, and flagstone accents. One of the updates included converting the previously expansive 122-page tome of a wine list onto an iPad. The cellar (which includes private dining rooms) boasts some 15,000 bottles—intimidating even for an aficionado. The iPad selects wines based on red or white, region or varietal, and your budget (it can save favorites into a file that you can email to yourself for at-home imbibing). Sommelier and cellar master Melanie Kaman is on hand to further demystify the process.

Flagstaff's kitchen, helmed by executive chef Mark Monette and chef de cuisine Chris Royster, change elements of the menu daily to incorporate local ingredients from area purveyors such as Cure Organic Farm. Royster, who spent the winter months on a culinary tour of France and Spain, was inspired by the simplified style of eating he encountered, and he’s since reworked Flagstaff's menu.

One dish exemplifying the shift is the wild Alaskan Halibut (pictured), served on a bed of wild rice. A flavorful crust of seasoning surrounds the pan-seared filet, which gives way to a clean, delicate flavor. Baby pea shoots strewn across the top give the dish a fresh, springy feel, while the lemon-thyme emulsion provides a welcome and intense zing. Another dish to try is the Hudson Valley foie gras, served over crostini and flanked by grilled sweetbreads, pressed watermelon, and ginger coulis. Finish with a scoop of Flagstaff's house-made Avery Brewing Company's stout ice cream with caramelized bananas and decadent chocolate-dipped bacon.

Whether Flagstaff House is an old favorite or a spot you've never had the pleasure of visiting, now is the time to go. With many decades under its belt and a refreshed outlook, the restaurant’s comfortable yet sophisticated feel makes it one of the state's most memorable dining experiences.

1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, 303-442-4640