I´m often wracked with guilt when my vegan friend Amy joins me for a meal out. I’ll typically enjoy something like a filet mignon stuffed with oysters and a side of beluga while my hapless pal is forced to gnaw on a sprig of parsley. Happily, this culinary disparity didn’t rear its ugly head at Tangerine, a new North Boulder breakfast and lunch spot that features an astonishingly comprehensive brunch menu.
Run by the same folks who operate the neighboring Arugula Ristorante, Tangerine features an interior color scheme evoking this eatery’s citrusy namesake. Orange lighting fixtures, streamlined metal chairs and two-tone banquettes pay homage to the ’50s, although contemporary flourishes give it a fresh feel. The décor here would be just the ticket in a refurbished vintage Airstream trailer. Tangerine’s vibrant ambience was further enhanced by the presence of a capacity Sunday morning crowd.
Compared to the brunch bill of fare, Tangerine’s lunch menu is relatively modest, featuring entrée salads such as an albacore nicoise, and classic sandwiches including Reubens and BLTs. The brunch menu is where the action is, as it presents a wide range of options, including wild shrimp omelets, biscuits and gravy, lemon ricotta pancakes and a smoked trout Benedict.
For starters, we ordered $2.75 goblets of iced java from local purveyor Conscious Coffee. This beverage had been cold-brewed for 24 hours, making for a robust, but not overly bitter, drink. Adding cream, or in Amy’s case, rice milk, smoothed out the flavor to an extent that adding sugar was superfluous.
Amy crafted herself a fine vegan meal anchored by a $7 bowl of oatmeal adorned with chocolate chips and ripe strawberries. This porridge distinguished itself by virtue of its remarkably creamy consistency, and it was hot enough to melt the chocolate, which also upped the richness quotient. Similarly, a dense-yet-compact $1.50 house-made English muffin had an excellent texture complemented by a firstrate marmalade that was properly tart.
Hands down, Amy’s favorite item was a $4 side of baked tempeh, which unexpectedly came with a side of its own, a simple green salad. This pleasantly moist fermented soy protein was a standout, aided by flavor assists from a red onion garnish and, most important, a liberal sprinkling of thyme. Amy waxed effusive about this meatless selection, dubbing it “the best tempeh in Boulder.”
Seeing that Amy was enjoying her vegan fare, I could indulge in the $12 chicken waffles without guilt. The only flaw was that the otherwise acceptable Belgian waffle arrived at room temperature. More heat would have enhanced enjoyment of the waffle’s butter topping, infused with cashew slivers and a whisper of mint. On the other hand, the pan-fried boneless chicken was hot, tender and juicy and paired equally well with maple syrup and the side of fried Yukon Gold potatoes.
Tangerine is a welcome addition to the North Boulder daytime dining scene. Even if the number of its brunch menu options were halved, this inviting establishment would still be able to accommodate almost every appetite. If you don’t live in the neighborhood, it’s worth a trip, and one suspects it will become a fixture of the local a.m. dining scene. What’s more, it’s a place where even the most devout carnivores can bring their herbivorous friends without a sense of guilt.