After 10 years in business on Pearl Street, chef Bradford Heap and restaurant vet Carole Vilate (Salt the Bistro, Colterra) felt it was time to pivot with their four-year-old seafood concept, Wild Standard. The result, called Pepper the Noshery, is a knockout evolution of the concept’s name, menu, and interior.
The new eatery’s moniker was chosen to complement adjacent brother restaurant Salt and supply the community with a noshery, or a casual community gathering place that champions sustainably sourced ingredients.
As for the design, Vilate can cite the origin of every piece of décor inside Pepper, which is bedecked with repurposed materials. She used her background in interior design to refresh the space to echo “the spontaneous energy of Boulder.” For example: Fallen cottonwoods gathered around Boulder County line the walls of the basement bar while whimsical lights made from ornaments Vilate discovered in San Francisco illuminate the upstairs bar. “There’s not a single thing in here that doesn’t have a story,” Vilate says.
Before Wild Standard occupied the nearly 120-year-old building, the space was home to Juanita’s Mexican Food; regulars may recognize Juanita’s signature yellow glass in several spots at Pepper, including the large sign hanging above Pepper’s front door, the curved glass in the restroom, and a decorative niche in the back.
Boulder’s Resource Center, a nonprofit that resells goods from gently used construction and building materials, supplied several elements of the new design, from the barn door that greets guests who venture into the marine-themed downstairs bar (fondly dubbed the “Pearl Dive”) to the granite for the raw bar. Meanwhile, the bright, open kitchen, exposed brick, and murals by Denver artist Lindee Zimmer give Pepper a contemporary feel.
Pepper’s kitchen, led by chef Roy Benningfield (formerly at Salt), pays homage to Wild Standard with a small selection of oysters, wild Alaskan king crab, and other fresh seafood. But the garden dominates most of Pepper’s menu, with a wide array of plant-based dishes grounded in international flavors. Don’t miss the Thai curry with vegetables sourced from Longmont’s Kilt Farms and the skin-on king salmon, presented atop a sushi rice cake with sautéed baby bok choy and a rich shiitake mushroom vinaigrette.
And if you choose to nosh (we couldn’t resist) at the upstairs bar, take a peek under the rail. Can you spot the belt buckles? Fun fact: They are accessories Vilate saved from her teenage years. Sometimes it pays to never throw anything away.
1043 Pearl St., Boulder, Monday–Thursday, 4 p.m.–10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.–9 p.m.