Corrida ups Boul­der’s fine-din­ing game, con­sid­er­ably

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Clay Fong

Corrida is the lat­est en­try into Boul­der’s fine din­ing scene, and this down­town des­ti­na­tion fills a unique niche as a Basque-in­flu­enced steak­house also of­fer­ing seafood and tapas. Its sleek and mod­ernistic fourth floor rooftop set­ting also sets it apart, as do the im­pres­sive Flatirons views.

Given this eatery’s fo­cus, it’s un­sur­pris­ing that menu of­fer­ings are heavy on premium steak and fish se­lec­tions as well as au­then­tic tapas. In some in­stances, the beef and seafood are sold by weight in pre­de­ter­mined sizes. For example, the two avail­able fish se­lec­tions, red snap­per and tur­bot, were avail­able only in whole fish por­tions ex­ceed­ing 30 ounces, mak­ing these choices a non-starter for two din­ers wish­ing for more than one en­trée selec­tion.

One other note­wor­thy el­e­ment

of a Fri­day night din­ner that stood out was the qual­ity of ser­vice. Kirstin, our main server, was ef­fi­cient, en­gag­ing and re­fresh­ingly un­pre­ten­tious. Given the un­abashedly high-end vibe, one could eas­ily ex­pect staff to dive into a sea of snooti­ness, but in­ter­ac­tions were uni­formly friendly. Close to a half dozen of her col­leagues tended to our ta­ble, con­stantly en­sur­ing that glasses were topped off, crumbs re­moved and plates cleared.

Tapas se­lec­tions hew close to the Span­ish tra­di­tion, spot­light­ing seafood, cured meats, and other in­gre­di­ents closely associated with the Mediter­ranean, such as aioli and olives. Our first small bite, a brac­ing blend of $2.50 an­chovy, pep­pers and olive on a skewer was pun­gently tasty, al­beit not quite as sub­tle in fla­vor as the sub­lime $4.50 ce­viche de nava­jas. This diminu­tive course con­sisted of sparkling fresh diced ra­zor clam, lightly mar­i­nated in citrus and set off by a spot-on ac­cent of tar­ragon. A heartier selec­tion, the $9 patatas bravas, con­sisted of sim­ple roasted pota­toes, crisp on the out­side, fluffy on the in­side, ac­com­pa­nied by a lux­u­ri­ously silky gar­lic aioli.

A $16 course of Span­ish oc­to­pus worked well as a light en­trée. For my money, the two main fac­tors that sep­a­rate top notch ver­sions of this seafood from the also-rans re­volve around fla­vor and tex­ture. Corrida’s pulpo ably suc­ceeded on both counts, with as ten­der a con­sis­tency as you’ll find with this in­gre­di­ent, no mean feat. It doesn’t take much in the way of over­cook­ing to ren­der this seafood into some­thing closely re­sem­bling a bi­cy­cle tire. Condi­ments of pa­prika aioli and herba­ceous salsa verde added fit­ting con­trasts to the ap­peal­ingly del­i­cate fla­vor, the un­ques­tioned star of the show when it came to this course.

From the steak side of the menu, I se­lected a 16-ounce Amer­i­can Wagyu strip loin steak, aged for 21 days, and priced at a con­sid­er­able $84. To cut to the chase, I can’t re­mem­ber sa­vor­ing a more en­joy­able steak in my en­tire life. From the stand­point of prepa­ra­tion, op­ti­mal medium rare cook­ing, with a hint of ex­te­rior char, brought out the best qual­i­ties of taste and tex­ture in this rar­efied meat. Sim­ple adorn­ments of coarse salt and a spritz of lemon in the Mediter­ranean style pro­vided the ideal sea­son­ing.

Wagyu is renowned for its fla­vor-boost­ing mar­bling, and this steak de­liv­ered on this prom­ise, as well as a ten­der con­sis­tency that seem­ingly could be cut with noth­ing more than a with­er­ing glance. It’s also worth not­ing that this course’s in­her­ent rich­ness lends it­self to shar­ing among two, pos­si­bly three, din­ers, and it would be more than suit­able as a spe­cial treat for the beef afi­cionado.

A pair of $10 desserts main­tained the din­ner’s high stan­dards. Chur­ros coated with crys­tal­ized sugar were on a par with those you’d find at a late night Madrid hang­out, and there was noth­ing to crit­i­cize re­gard­ing the hefty but not overly sweet vanilla flan. More am­bi­tious and at least equally suc­cess­ful was a white choco­late bombe en­cas­ing a gooey licorice-scented cen­ter along­side fresh berries and unique fen­nel candy. My friend was sorely tempted to lick the plate, and did re­ceive en­cour­age­ment from a staffer who said, “This is a judg­ment free zone.”

While prices for some of the premium steak and seafood se­lec­tions are con­sid­er­able here, this is a fine spot for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion splurge, or if you’re one of those with a large off­shore bank ac­count. Lastly, in over a decade of re­view­ing res­tau­rants, I can say with­out reser­va­tion that my din­ner at Corrida is the best meal that I have ex­pe­ri­enced in this ca­pac­ity. The com­bi­na­tion of stel­lar yet un­pre­ten­tious ser­vice, in­gre­di­ent qual­ity and prepa­ra­tion as good as any­one else’s, as well as stun­ning views, make for an un­par­al­leled lo­cal din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Pho­tos by Paul Aiken , Daily Cam­era

Slices of the Wagyu Strip Loin at Corrida in Boul­der.

Ce­viche de Nava­jas is made with ra­zor clam, tar­ragon, citrus and cu­cum­ber.

Flan de Vainilla is made with quince caramel and a churro.

Patatas Bravas with salsa brava and gar­lic con­fit aioli.

Corrida co-owner and chef Amos Watts pre­pares the 7X Wagyu CO.

Pho­tos by Paul Aiken , Daily Cam­era

Meringue, black licorice and fen­nel candy are in the Bombe de Re­galiz.

Pulpo Gal­lego has span­ish oc­to­pus, pa­prika ailoi and salsa verde.

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