The recent wave of renovations at the historic Hotel Boulderado has been capped off with the opening of Spruce Farm & Fish, which replaced Q's. This much needed update to the hotel's main restaurant, which had gone unchanged for nearly 20 years, makes it a better complement for the two hotel bars — Corner Bar & Cafe and License No. 1 — that were redone in the spring.
The biggest changes include a brand new oyster bar and a new raised seating area in the center of the restaurant with private booths that make for a more intimate dining experience. Many of the old architectural elements of the eatery were retained, from the classic tile floors to the stained glass windows that had been there since the place first opened in 1909.
Chef Shawn Murrell — Culinary School of the Rockies grad (now Escoffier) and former chef at Magnolia and Tahoma — heads up the kitchen. His menu is centered around freshness and flavor and the idea that the less food travels, the better it tastes. Wherever possible, ingredients from local purveyors are utilized: produce from Agriburbia and Oxford Gardens, beef from Harris Ranch Beef, cheeses from Haystack Mountain Dairy, and so on.
Despite Spruce's landlocked location, its devotion to using local ingredients continues even with featured seafood dishes. A Colorado striped bass and a beautiful crispy whole snapper (both sourced locally) can be found on the menu. Oyster fans can expect to find many different varieties — flown in fresh daily — from four kinds of raw oysters on the half shell (two east coat and two west coast) to cornmeal fried and baked oysters "casino."
Fish and oysters may be the stars of the show at Spruce, but the restaurant also centers around farm-fresh ingredients. A smoked pork loin chop comes with roasted potato, a sweet corn and fava bean succotash, sundried tomato, seared greens, bourbon barbecue jus, and a fennel, orange, and cabbage slaw.
Spruce has a carefully curated cocktail list and dessert menu, once again focused on organic, locally-sourced ingredients. The Vespa, Spruce's version of a spiked lemonade, is made with Boulder-based Sno Vodka, seasonal fruit, and house made lemonade. Desserts are crafted by Alex Hindman, who loves to make tiny pies and petit fours. Her light flourless chocolate cake is a must.
Spruce Farm & Fish is located in the historic Hotel Boulderado at 2115 13th Street and is open weekdays for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Saturdays and Sundays, Spruce offers a brunch menu from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as dinner service.
— by Robert Stein