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  • 5.0 Sterne

    This review is effectively for Aaron Quintana's work on a new furnace installation.  I've worked with many other companies (big and small) over the past four years for various other home improvements and repairs, and Aaron is easily the most polite, patient, professional, and helpful of the whole lot.  Not that I've dealt with truly unpleasant people, thankfully, but it's rare to find people who understand that both the technical and human sides to a business transaction are important, and is skilled with each.

    So when my 10-year-old furnace started making metallic grinding noises during operation, I knew something was about to go out.  And I certainly wasn't happy at being forced to make a decision between a nearly $1000 repair for a new motor or getting a new furnace.  For various reasons I decided to go ahead do a full replacement (even though my tendency is generally to try to repair things to get as much life as possible out of them).

    He was able to schedule an install the very next day, on a Saturday at that.  The breakdown and installation took the whole day (I don't think he finally finished up until 6:30 or 7:00 pm!) and yielded several substantial improvements to the ductwork and hot water valve (for the humidifier) that were quite a bit above the call of duty.  He improved access to the humidifier control, improved some electrical wiring, etc., all seemingly just because he actually cares about this sort of was no extra cost to me.  You have to admire someone who sees that a previous installation was done shoddily and takes the time to fix those things even if it's not absolutely necessary...most technicians just want to get the job done as quickly and cheaply as possible.

    So yeah, major thanks to Mr. Quintana...great guy, great work.

  • 2.0 Sterne

    Alas, this location seems cursed since Redfish closed.  Redfish wasn't exactly the bee's knees, but it was a fun spot with decent, if overpriced, food and mostly serviceable beer.  Then came Boulder Draft House, a misguided, very un-Boulder establishment with a transplanted brewer, poor beer, poor food, and a dumb chain-like atmosphere.  Thankfully, that didn't last too long.  Next up, Los Oasis...which had its heart in the right place with a Central/South American food menu, but watered things down to the point that neither foodies nor the easily placated masses could enjoy...the food was unmemorable and clumsy.

    And now, Shine.  The Trilogy triplets are back.  I never really spent any time in Trilogy; I only ate there once and it was bland and completely forgettable.  I think that place was mostly about the music/dancing, not so much about the wine/beer or food.  And so it seems that theme will be the case here as well...presumably focused more on live shows than exciting food and a good wine/beer list.

    Both the food and drink lists are small (only four red wines to choose from, for example, and none of them very good, and the brewer is the same as when it was Boulder Draft House).  The food is friendly to gluten-free people, fairly friendly to vegetarian folks, but only slightly friendly to vegans...sadly, most menu choices have dairy products in them (drinking/eating other animals' milk, especially as adults, is fundamentally strange to me, much more so than eating meat, but whatever).

    On my most recent visit, I tried two wines, both very ordinary.  I chose one of them, and what comes to the table?  A short, cylindrical glass hardly even fit for water.  What.  The.  Fuck.  I'm sorry for dropping an f-bomb, but serving wine, even if it's mediocre, in little water glasses is just insulting.  Zero respect for the beverage.  The glass was full almost to the headspace to even smell the damned thing, and I felt like I was drinking Juicy Juice.  I will NEVER order wine here again.  Call me a snob, but this is even worse than Radda, which (last time I was there, and I do mean LAST time) also serves their wine in little stemless glasses (which works GREAT to warm up the beverage with your hand/body heat, oh wait...that's not a good thing for wine, arrgghh), although at least they have a little headspace in them so you can smell what you're drinking.  People don't use their noses that much in this country, at least not consciously and deliberately.  I smell my food before I put it in my mouth, and I sure as hell smell my beer and wine, and indeed spend even more time doing that than drinking it.  My dining companion had beer, and of course that comes in bog standard shaker pint glasses filled to the brim...again, glassware not meant for nosing, just for getting the liquid into your belly as soon as possible.  But of course that's all too common in this country (and elsewhere), so I can't get too irate even though it does sadden me.

    Blah, blah, blah, on to the food.  We started with some of the beet hummus, which came with about six small flatbread triangles that were so insufficient for the big mound of hummus that we teased the waitress about it.  She agreed it didn't make much sense, but considering the flatbread was very dull, we didn't order more of those...instead we ordered the bread and "yam butter" (sweet potato paste), primarily so we would have something substantial to eat the hummus with.  That improved things quite a bit...six generous pieces of bread (three different kinds) were perfect to get through both the "butter" and beets.  They clearly need to fix the hummus accompaniment, but honestly I prefer regular chickpea hummus so I'd never order that again anyway.  Points for trying something different, I suppose, but meh.

    As for the entree, I got the ruby trout with coconut-cream kale and sunchokes.  The trout was left unadorned, which is how fish really should be...encrust fish with anything or fry it or whatever, and you might as well dump ketchup on a steak.  If I can't get my fish raw, it had better be as close to raw as possible.  It was a nice piece of fish, and the best of the culinary offerings.  The kale had too much salt and too much "cream" (presumably coconut milk/cream)...the kale itself was drenched (imagine pasta at a typical Americanized Italian restaurant in which the tomato sauce obliterates the noodles).  The sunchokes were pleasant, but plain...close to fingerling potatoes in texture in flavor.

    Very little spices or herbs are used here in general, perhaps in an attempt to let the ingredient itself (e.g., sunchoke) "shine".  But honestly, most of what they're serving could use some brightening with judicious spicing.  Otherwise this just isn't worth it...I can roast potatoes at home with nothing on them myself.  But I can just as easily add, say, garlic and rosemary and create something FAR more satisfying.  Something this restaurant might want to consider.

  • 1738 Pearl St
    Boulder, CO 80302
    Vereinigte Staaten
    3.0 Sterne

    Quite a mixed bag.  I took a friend here as a birthday present.  First thing I will mention is that they keep the temperature in here surprisingly chilly, uncomfortably so even in jeans and a polo shirt.  People at adjoining tables were saying the same thing, so it wasn't just us.  Wear a sweater/jacket, and be prepared to eat each course quickly because the food does not stay warm long.

    Our waiter seemed new and nervous, but his wine recommendation based on my description of what I liked was accurate (a rare thing, so I was happy about this).

    We started with a dish of the olives, and by chance they happened to be my favorite, Castelvetranos.  The oil had clearly been infused with herbs (sage?), which although pleasant was just a tad obtrusive to the simple pleasure of the olives themselves.  The fennel oil that The Kitchen uses is better matched, and frankly I just prefer them plain from the Whole Foods olive bar, since these olives by themselves are most beautiful without augmentation.  The bread came out around the same time, and a truly delightful bread it is...great crust and great internal texture and tang.

    My antipasto was the calamari.  This was the least impressive dish of the night (besides the dessert) was rather plain and unremarkable.  Would not order it again.  My friend got the beets, which was more art than food...a couple small cubes of beets and rhubarb with some smears of red and orange paste/sauce.

    For first course, we split the "risotto for the table", which couldn't have been smaller portions.  While the aroma and harmonization of flavors was quite nice, it was almost like soup (and was indeed served with spoons).  Rice texture was good.  And although described as a seafood risotto with shrimp, clams, and such, don't expect to see any of the's all been minced into tiny bits.  Only about 6 to 8 spoonfuls per person.  At this point we were both still quite hungry.

    Alas, the second course was almost as small.  Small portions are a rule of thumb with "fine dining", no doubt, but every course here is more like tapas/nibbles.  Expect to leave only barely sated.  That aside, mine was the lamb, and my friend's the cod.  Both were quite enjoyable and harmonized...subtle, but reasonably complex and well-cooked.

    About the time our second course was served, our waiter ignored us for quite a long time.  My friend wanted another piece of bread and was trying to get the attention of anyone who might help, but ended up completely finishing his course before anyone came over.  We could see our waiter at other tables, but he had apparently forgotten us.  On top of that, as my friend was starting to pour himself more water (with bottle already in hand), another waiter came over and literally wrested the bottle from his hand!  So awkward and so rude!  I appreciate his wanting to serve us, but yanking a water bottle out of a customer's hand is so ridiculously wrong on every level.  For what ended up being $125 a person, neither of these gaffes should have happened.

    So, a difficult experience to rate.  The service seems professional on the surface, but clearly they are not as well-trained as a place like this would suggest.  The food is good but far from awesome.  Overall it was a nice experience and my friend was very thankful, but we both had much higher expectations based on the reputation and prices.  Sadly, Frasca doesn't go the distance.  I doubt either of us will return.

  • 817 Main St
    Louisville, CO 80027
    Vereinigte Staaten
    2.0 Sterne

    A rather generic place.  It's a movie theater facade outside, which is kinda cool, but a couple of movie posters on the wall doesn't do too much to sell it inside...there's just no soul or charm here.  The drink menu is sadly very pedestrian (90% macro beers, cheap wines), and the food menu is about as tantalizing as Applebee's...basic American pub grub.  My companion and I had one drink (I didn't even finish my wine, so lackluster), and due to the slow, clumsy service and the dull menu we decided to dine elsewhere (we considered Empire but opted for Lucky Pie in this particular case, which has a far superior beer menu to both places, and pretty tasty and interesting pizzas).

    Word of mouth hasn't been positive, but it's a very new joint so one can always hope it's still a work-in-progress.  I guess if the rooftop seating (which overlooks Main St for a couple of the tables at least) is appealing enough and you're happy with cookie-cutter food and drink, it'll do.  Although the water sprayers on the deck are admittedly a bit much...we felt like we were getting a shower the whole time.  Better than sweltering in the heat, perhaps, but we were laughing at times from looking at each other through the occasional dense cloud of mist.

    I hate to sound like a snob, but IMHO to flourish it's really gonna need an overhaul...they need a new menu with better focus and uniqueness (that actually makes you want to order something), some quality drink options (even two or three of the sorts of beers Lucky Pie offers would be a start), and more experienced waitstaff.  The impression is that all the focus went to having a rooftop patio, and the rest was just enough to get the doors open.  Then again, old town Louisville doesn't have that many dining options, so they may survive on open doors alone.  But I just can't imagine why I'd ever return here.  It was a one-star experience for me, but my companion likes rooftop patios and I have to admit most of my disappointment stems from it being generic rather than bad.  So, two stars.

  • 2525 Arapahoe Ave
    Boulder, CO 80302
    Vereinigte Staaten
    2.0 Sterne

    Meh.  Dined here with a friend, and have to say I probably won't bother returning.

    First thing we noticed is the beer and wine list (especially the beer list) is small and pedestrian quality.  With pizza places like Basta and Backcountry offering plentiful good beer (esp. Backcountry), I'd have to have a strong reason to come here instead...namely the food would have to be superior.  It may have been fine to just offer swill like Moretti and PBR ten years ago, but these days more and more beer geeks demand to have the same quality stuff at a restaurant as they do at home.  An Orval, for example, or perhaps Boulevard Tank 7.  So, seriously, the food here had better be bloody awesome in order to draw me away from restaurants like Basta, Backcountry, Oak, Pinyon, The Kitchen/Upstairs, etc.

    We started off with the polenta-and-mushroom appetizer.  Simple and unexciting.  It didn't do anything wrong, per se, it just didn't inspire.  We each got pizzas...myself the most expensive one on the list, the special margherita and my friend got the saliche.  I will say that the crust is very nice...chewy and firm and flavorful, almost like good crusty Italian bread.  The sauce and toppings were...well...ok.  Nothing special.  Compare with, say, Basta, where the sauce by itself is vibrant and delicious.  Granted, Backcountry's pizzas aren't that great, but they're not much worse than here.

    Our waitress and the rest of the staff were pleasant, no complaints there.

    So...what can I say?  3-star food and 1-star beverages equals 2 stars overall.  Stick with Basta and Backcountry (or heck, you can even get a decent pizza at Upstairs@Kitchen, even if it's only one kind, along with lots of very good brews and wines to choose from).

  • 3.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    I have somewhat mixed feelings (being a rather picky/critical fellow), but overall I'm satisfied.  The good points: very friendly staff, lots of detailed docs concerning the design and terms, a very all-natural philosophy (no use of landscape fabric or poisons) and very nice results.  But there were a few things that marred the experience, as detailed below.

    I had Ecoscape redesign my small front yard (about 900 sq ft) in June 2010. It consisted of replacing the existing grass lawn with xeriscaped plants, including new soil and cedar mulch, two new berms, some new boulders, and a drip irrigation system.  When the design was done and the official estimate was presented, it was almost 60% over their original guess (although in fairness they warned that was purely a guess).  At the time, that made me very uneasy, but I was partially invested already for the design work, and I wanted to get the work completed before too late into summer, so I signed the contract.  In the end, the grand total was actually about 30% higher than the original guess...still a bit more than I'd budgeted, but not so far out of line as the first estimate.

    The results were quite nice, and should only look better in coming years as the plants mature and fill in a bit.  It's more park-like than yard-like (quite a lot of mulch), but that should be alleviated as the plants mature and spread out.  So based purely on aesthetics so far, I would give them 4 stars.

    Unfortunately, one of the two small spruces utterly died in only a month.  Bill came out to have a look, and I casually asked about getting it replaced.  He said he'd "go back and come up with an estimate".  I never got an estimate or any more communications after that, and I was kinda sad that for the high cost of the job, they wouldn't replace one of the more major plants in the design despite such a quick death.  That policy is explicit in the contract, but it's still disappointing.  Other companies in the area (e.g., Sun & Shade, Native Edge) tend to have one year warranties on their plants, so if this is a concern for you, Ecoscape is probably not the right choice.

    They also claimed they would have two follow-up visits to adjust the watering schedule.  When I had another company do the winterization blow-out (Ecoscape charges $75, which seemed excessive, so I had another company do it for $25), I took the battery out of the controller and noticed that it was still set to water every other day...the final setting after a month was supposed to be only twice a week. So either they forgot or there was some miscommunication about this part.  The fact that I didn't opt into their maintenance plan may have simply made it financially unattractive to deal with me further.

    So overall things went pretty well, and I'm happy with the way the yard looks, but the lack of a plant warranty and the seemingly high prices are certainly negatives worth considering.

  • 1.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    My companion and I ate here recently, and only finished a small portion of our meals.  It was actually a rather disturbing experience.

    The first aroma that greeted us upon entering was, as expected/hoped, a brief burst of Indian-style spices...not very strong, sadly, but it was there.  However, when we were seated, a new aroma began to dominate the of raw meat, like raw chicken specifically.  Soon it was pretty much the only thing we could smell.  It was off-putting, but something we were able to deal with.

    Before our food came, an older woman dressed in traditional clothing wandered through the dining area and sat in various areas throughout (and just outside) the restaurant.  She was either sick or just had a throat issue, because she repeatedly made coughing and, worse, wet/phleghmy throat-clearing noises throughout our dining experience.  We felt a little bad for her, but walk around where the customers are trying to eat, sounding like you're about to hock a big loogey, or even worse, vomit?  NOT good for bringing people back in, I can tell you that.  My companion could barely eat because of this (she's a very "sympathetic vomiter", to put it mildly, so these noises were making her feel like retching herself).

    I had channa saag, my companion had chicken makhani.  We had plain naan with it.  The channa saag was overly creamy/oily, and quite bland.  The chicken makhani had the alarming and uncanny aroma of Chef-Boyardee canned processed food, almost exactly the aroma of Spaghettios.  Bizarre and unsettling.  The naan was ok, but it was rather dry (I don't crave butter like most people, but in this case a typical glazing of ghee on top would have been helpful) and seemed to be made with both whole wheat flour as well as corn meal...unusual, but again, not bad per se.  Just don't expect the naan most Indian restaurants serve.

    The man waiting on us was very polite and kind, so I am sad to rate this so poorly, but alas, it must be so.  I would absolutely, positively never eat here again, and would recommend others avoid it as well.  Granted, the options in the Silverthorne area aren't plentiful, especially wrt to ethnic food, but honestly...I would rather try my luck anywhere else.

  • 4580 Broadway St
    Boulder, CO 80304
    Vereinigte Staaten
    3.0 Sterne

    Good food, though certainly short of awesome.  Got the daily special pasta my first visit, which was nice but unexciting.  Second time was on a Tuesday so I got one of their burger specials.  It was overcooked and rather dry, and most of the fries served with it were badly overcooked as well.  No excuse for that, since there was hardly anyone in the place.  Appetizers both times were delightful (hummus, mussels, empanadas).  I like the vibe of the place, and the staff have always been friendly and kind.  Some good choices on their wine menu, but only a couple are available by the glass.  Beer menu could use some better options (like Orval, Dupont, Nogne), but they're certainly trying more than most (Houblon Chouffe was on tap here last time).  Mostly worth the price, but it may depend on when you go (as with any place).

  • 3.0 Sterne

    The brass tacks: it's only a two star restaurant for the entrees, three stars for our appetizer, and four stars for service and the beverage list.  If I could, I'd give them 2.5 stars overall...once again, I will state that Yelp desperately needs to shift to a 10-point scale.  I'm awarding three stars because the overall experience was very pleasant despite the ho-hum quality of the most important part...the entrees.

    It reminds me a bit of John's Restaurant in Boulder in that they got the appetizer right (escargot in this case), but they just can't seal the deal with their entrees.

    They have Orval on the beer list (HUGE props for that!), and their bottle list is excellent...Torbreck, Penfolds Grange, Juan Gil, Opus One, d'Arenberg, etc.  Many are badly overpriced, though (Juan Gil is just under $15 at the store, they're trying to get $45 for it here...I expect double price at a restaurant, but not triple, come on guys...).  They even have Pierre Ferrand cognac (albeit only the entry level Ambre).  So yeah, even if you're a picky snob, you should be satisfied by the drink menu.  Add a few more world class beers like Orval and they'd be the bees knees.

    The appetizer was escargot, as mentioned above, and excellent...aromatic, flavorful, nice pairing with the mushrooms, bread, and mashed potatoes.  We were both excited about the prospects of the entree quality based on this.

    Alas, both of our fish dishes (ahi tuna and halibut) were lackluster.  Edible, ok, but not much more.  Very simple and uninteresting characters in any of the food on the plate...almost bland.  Both fish perhaps a touch on the dry side too.  Give me raw tuna sashimi with no accompaniment any day over this.

    Service was very very attentive and polite from start to finish.  Rework the entrees and I'll be back, otherwise it's not worth the price.  Ditto for John's...the entree quality just isn't up to the high price.

  • 3.0 Sterne

    If there were half-stars (this site should really consider changing to a 10-point scale), I'd give a 3.5.  I've been here twice this year, and it's hard to adorn a fourth star when the main courses failed to impress both myself and my companion each time.

    But first, let's talk about the non-food aspects.  Nice ambiance, basically a house made into a restaurant...low-key but charming.  Good service; attentive/polite waiters.  I pushed the sommelier with some semi-tough questions, and she answered them well.  Good wine list, and fun to see things like Torbreck on the by-the-glass menu.  Prices are what you might expect from a fancy restaurant; wine bottles around $50 and up, main courses around $30.

    So let's start with the appetizer size options.  The hamachi is quite nice...raw yellowtail with a small lump of rice on the side, some kind of curry oil, mild herbs and seeds to garnish.  The mushrooms over chevre are truly wonderful; firm, toothsome, and flavorful fungi with a beautiful harmony of cheese and a light gravy.  The gnocchi were enjoyable but nothing special.

    So far, so good.  But the main courses are where a restaurant needs to prove its mettle.  Sadly, all four entrees that have been sampled here have been disappointing.  First, there was the seared sea scallops...sadly, and surprisingly, overdone.  It's absolute blasphemy to overcook sea scallops (or any food, really), which can be one of my favorite types of seafood.  These were overly firm and rubbery and had lost all their juicy delight.  Next up, there was the sesame seed crusted ahi with tempura sea scallops.  While there was nothing inherently wrong with this dish, the scallops did not meld well with the tempura batter and begged a different type of preparation.  The ahi was a little overgenerously coated with the black sesame seeds, but overall the quality and doneness of the fish was quite good.  Third, there was the rack of lamb.  The lamb was ok (I had it cooked medium rare), but rather ordinary...a friend of mine made rack of lamb a few weeks ago and, was quite a bit better.  Worst of all, the bed of couscous was almost inedibly salty.  Granted, I'm more sensitive about salt than many people, but my dining partner agreed wholeheartedly.  Last, we come to the duck.  While I did not sample from this entree myself, my companion was disappointed due to it being overcooked (at least to her tastes).

    So...where's the fourth star?  I want to give it, as most of the food leading up to the final course is very good, as is the overall dining experience.  But sadly, they really need to work on their main courses before I'd go back a third time.

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  • Danke

    So what were your tough questions for the sommelier? :)

  • Nur so...

    Is there anywhere in Boulder that makes good Thai food? Inquiring minds… Mehr »

  • Danke

    The A is upside down because the prices knock you on your "A". Or it looks… Mehr »

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