First Look, First Bite
Vanessa House • November 16, 2016 • Lifestyle •
Boulder County Restaurant Week, better known as First Bite, began on Friday, Nov. 11 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 19. This week a showcase of some of the best restaurants in the county is giving diners the experience of cuisine they might not otherwise try.
Over 50 restaurants partake in serving a three-course pre-fixed meal. For $29 per restaurant, foodies get to indulge in an appetizer, entrée and dessert. A new feature of the week, two restaurants, The Mediterranean Restaurant and The Kitchen Upstairs, are offering an $18 tasting menu.
Preparation for First Bite begins weeks before the event. Chefs creating their menus, advertisements, front of the house staff adapting to the flow of customers, it’s worth the reward.
Executive Chef Jessica Emich of Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place in Boulder said, “I work with my Head Chef Vanessa to pick some of our favorite dishes to showcase and what we feel good about executing. The front of the house gets ready for a lot of people and a lot of action, and we really get them excited to talk about what makes SHINE special, because a lot of new people are coming in.”
Shine has been a participant in four of the last 11 years of First Bite’s existence.“We enjoy supporting it because it brings in new people to SHINE, and it supports the Boulder restaurant scene. We like that!” said Emich.
For newcomers River and Woods, First Bite is a great opportunity to show Boulder and the surrounding community what they’re all about. Chef Daniel Asher and Josh Dinar opened a new restaurant only two months ago in the former location of John’s Restaurant, a Boulder-staple for 41 years.
“First Bite is a great way to showcase a sampling of what we are about to an audience that might not know we’re here just yet. Our concept is heavily community-oriented,” said Diner. “First Bite is about bringing together the restaurant community and the community at large, and that just jives perfectly with our mission and concept.”
Diner continues, “River and Woods created a “storybook” menu [Once Upon a Time, Some Great Stuff Happened, and They Lived Happily Ever After] that takes various dishes from our regular menu and breaks them into what we think is a fun way to progress through a dinner.”
The cuisine presented throughout the week is the perfect opportunity for restaurants and their staff to showcase creative dishes. Lacroix says, “This time of year is one of abundance and yet one of repeated produce. We see pumpkin dishes done 12 different ways this time of year, but it’s never boring.”
Dinar of River and Woods believes, “When you’re dining at a restaurant, food itself in many ways can be viewed as art. That’s not meant to sound pretentious—and we’re definitely not a “fancy” restaurant. For us, it’s about expression, about reaching people in an emotional place, and creating a moment that’s a reflection of the world in its most joyful light.”
Being that Boulder is already a culinary destination, the organizers of First Bite do not advertise nationally because they want give the Boulder community ample opportunity to take a seat.
With the affordability of the menu and the selection of restaurants, going out to eat this week is on the menu. Whether you’re a seasoned diner, a couple looking for a great date night or just someone looking to experience a new cuisine, First Bite is your chance to check out one or many of the exceptional restaurants Boulder County has to offer.
Photography courtesy of First Bitefirstbiteboulder.com