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Thursday, May 5,2011

Experiencing Boulder Baked

By Clay Fong

 

I´ve recently enjoyed Between Two Ferns, a Web series featuring comedian Zach Galifianakis. Modeled after public access talk shows, Galifianakis conducts hysterically awkward, not-suitable-for-work celebrity interviews. An interview with Bruce Willis presents an opportunity for Galifianakis to ask the action star, “What are you talking about, Willis?” The Return of Bruno singer shoots down this lame attempt at humor by responding, “It’s a little easy, I gotta tell you.”

Hence the challenge in reviewing a place called Boulder Baked. It is a little too easy to take shots at the name. Which is a shame, because Boulder Baked excels at offering home-style baked goods, and the name distracts from the quality and comforting attributes of the available selection.

Sweets such as cookies, cake, pie and cupcakes take center stage here, and some of these treats are even available in gluten-free and vegan versions.

Open from four in the afternoon until midnight, Boulder Baked is a no-frills joint, with at-the-counter ordering and a slightly funky feel. It’s also centrally located on Broadway in the heart of downtown. Since desserts are the house specialty here, I could think of no better-qualified dining companion for an evening outing than Danette Randall, Boulder Weekly’s Dessert Diva.

To prevent ourselves from falling into a debilitating sugar shock, we started with the $6.25 grilled cheese sandwich and soup combo. For soup, Danette opted for the meatless chili, while I selected the con carne. The vegetarian interpretation was the more notable of the two, loaded up with the  expected beans as well as an unexpected mélange of carrot, olive and zucchini. The ground beef counterpart’s milder seasoning benefited from a splash of Louisiana hot sauce, which wasn’t an issue with the more assertively spiced veggie version.

The larger-than-expected grilled cheese wasn’t a trendy sandwich with a fancy pants artisan filling; it was a textbook perfect interpretation of the American cheddarladen classic. Lightly toasted sourdough held just the right amount of crunch, and the cheese inside was as it should be, perfectly warm and gooey.

A pair of $2.95 cupcakes served as the first dessert course. The cookies and cream number had a white frosting topping bisected by a wedge of Oreo cookie. The frosting wasn’t too sweet, a good thing, as was the chocolate cupcake. It was a bit drier in consistency than we would have liked, but I had no problems with the flavor. On a friend’s recommendation, I sampled the strawberry shortcake cupcake. Real whipped cream, fresh fruit and a close approximation to shortcake stuffed into a cupcake wrapper made for sheer dessert pleasure. Unlike the supermarket cupcakes that I, unfortunately, grew up on, happily these lacked a processed chemical taste.

The undisputed star of the show was a $4.50 slice of cheesecake, which Danette lauded as “delicious, creamy and melts in your mouth.” It possessed a pleasing lightness of texture rarely found in cheesecakes, and Danette declared the graham cracker crust “perfect.” It was crumbly, and not at all heavy, and so good that Danette purchased an additional slice to take home to her husband. There’s also an option to get a fruit garnish, and the sweet and tart  qualities of pie cherries presented a welcome contrast to all the creaminess. It’s a dessert I’d surely order again.

Clay’s Obscurity Corner

A humble standby

While variations of the grilled cheese sandwich have likely existed as long as cheese and bread have been around, the classic American sandwich is the product of the hard times of the Great Depression. Prior to the Depression, American cheese and industrial baked and sliced bread became more widely available, and these ingredients made for a cheap and filling meal in a tough economic climate. An open-faced version, dubbed the “cheese dream,” also became popular and lent itself to additions such as tomato and bacon. Contemporary versions may use artisan-baked breads and less prosaic ingredients such as brie and pancetta.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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