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Bryan Dayton (Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn, Brider), Amos Watts (Acorn, Old Major), Jenica Flippo, and the rest of the Corrida team were exhausted last week, but elated; the Spanish restaurant on the rooftop level of downtown Boulder’s PearlWest Building that they’d been planning and building and preparing to open for more than 2 years was almost ready for its public debut. And after three successful dry-run dinner services with friends and family, on Saturday night, March 24, they welcomed their first official guests.
Corrida is a stunning restaurant. Local architecture and design firm, Arch11 (who also created the spaces at Oak and Brider in Denver), has outdone itself, devising a sleek, modern concept that draws on the Spanish tradition of bullfighting (and butchery) for inspiration. There’s studded leather on the walls, warm walnut accents, swirling neon lights, a wall of wine, a massive, fire-pit-adorned patio, and more windows and unobstructed views of the Flatirons than any one restaurants deserves. Corrida makes beautiful use of it all.
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The bull theme, which plays out via graceful, back-lit skulls over the bar and massive mural prints in the restrooms and hallway—one of Jimi Hendrix in matador garb sacrificing his guitar in a fire; another of a crushing throng of wine-spattered humanity partying after the running of the bulls in Pamplona; a third of a life-size bull charging, and staring, right at you—“brings a bit of shock and awe to the space,” Dayton says. “It tones down the fine-dining feel.” Even the cover of the handmade leather-bound drink menu looks like its been spattered with blood, continuing the theme, and you’ll spot Corrida’s bull logo stamped into cubes of ice, too.
Come mid-April, a butcher’s case will be set up alongside the wine wall that hides the kitchen from the dining room, highlighting Corrida’s exceptional steak program. Priced by the pound and divvied up by producer on the menu (including Colorado’s Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe, 7X Wagyu, and Aspen Ridge Farm, and A5 Wagyu from Kagoshima, Japan), Watts also notes the cow’s breed, harvest age, time spent dry-aging, and how the meat was finished (as in, grain or grass). All cuts, from the bone-in rib eye to the Wagyu spinalis, are grilled, drizzled with La Cultivada extra-virgin olive oil, and showered with flaky salt. Such a simple preparation lets the beefy flavor sing, particularly when it comes to the Japanese Wagyu, so richly marbled that Watts says “it’s actually more streaked with red than it is with white.” Those cuts are priced at $70 for two ounces—but they’re absolutely worth it. The thin slices of meat melt in your mouth in a blissful explosion of tangy beef, flavorful fat, and clean salinity. It’s extraordinary, more of an experience than a mouthful of food.
There are also tempting tapas and pinxtos ranging from patatas bravas to pan con tomate with optional add-ons like Iberico jamón or “boquerones” (white anchovies). Roasted oyster mushrooms come dressed in sherry, chive oil, and sous-vide egg yolk that naps the fungi as a luscious sauce, while tender marinated carrots, fragrant with cumin and coriander, are offset with crunchy rosemary-toasted almonds. Also, don’t miss the tender squid cooked in its own ink, topped with tiny jewellike cubes of peppers and tomatoes. If the gorgeous ceramic serving bowls catch your eye—and they will—the fact that each was custom-made for Corrida by Nate Mancini (a former Acorn cook) of Rocco Pottery should make you feel as good as the food will.
Dayton’s beverage program is just as much a reason to dine at Corrida as the fine Basque fare, offering plenty of sherry options, a roaming gin tonica cart, vermouths served on the rocks with bespoke garnishes, and, according to Dayton, a creative, all-Spanish, “smallish wine list that has something fun for everyone.” Dayton and Flippo, who tasted Spanish wines for more than a year and a half to come up with the current list, break it down into intriguing sections, from “citrus & sea” to “sultry & seductive” to “spiced embers.” Don’t be intimidated if you are unsure about what to order, as the staff has been training for weeks and are eager to help you navigate your way to a delicious glass or bottle. There are also a handful of lovely cocktails, Spanish (and Colorado) brews, and several ciders.
Corrida is open for dinner Monday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday dinner service runs from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Lunch and brunch will eventually ensue, and you’ll definitely see us there.
1023 Walnut St., Suite 400, Boulder, 303-444-1333