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Golden has almost everything you could want in Colorado: Gilded Age charm, beer, great climbing, even parking. And now, with Abejas (which means “bees” in Spanish), the town has what it has always needed: a great neighborhood bistro serving quality food.
Walk in and you’ll notice repurposed climbing ropes serve as room dividers and plentiful old barn wood. The lighting is soft and warm like a jewelry store, and there are air plants and blow-ups of old botanical prints on the walls.
The chef is Nick Ames (he was Spuntino’s chef when my wife and I owned the spot), who cooks what he calls French-influenced food. That means clean flavors drawn out of good local ingredients, clear broths, gentle acidity, precise techniques, and lapidary platings. (When Ames calls something an émincé you can be sure it will be as miniscule and evenly cut as the jewels on Barbie’s charm bracelet.)
The perfectly formed tortellini in a shellfish-saffron broth (pictured) are propped up with crispily sautéed shrimp. A boneless lamb shank is napped with a reduction sauce enlivened with roasted coriander; this assertive use of coarsely chopped spice is a recent welcome addition to classic French cuisine. The pig trotter terrine is inlaid with haricots verts and garnished with a salad of neatly halved green and yellow beans dressed in a brown butter, breadcrumbs, and curry vinaigrette.
Abejas, which is owned by friends Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh, opened last month in an old diner space surrounded by taquerias, pizzerias, and bar and grills serving the predictable food of the Old West. It is nice to see Denver’s food revolution spread out to smaller cities like Golden.
807 13th St., Golden, 303-952-9745, abejasgolden.com