Dining Out at Boulder’s Flagstaff House

A night at Flagstaff House shows that the restaurant still sets the standard.

Table of Flagstaff House dishes and wine
Photo by Tom McCorkle.

There’s no question about the type of dining experience you’re in for from the moment you arrive at Boulder’s Flagstaff House. Perched on an outlook with views of the town and mountains, the floor-to-ceiling windows ensure there’s not a bad view in the building. The terrace, weather permitting, opens up to an expansive outlook where, on a recent evening, deer grazed on the greenery, drawing jokes that the restaurant is so perfectly curated that it seems the staff had arranged the pre-dinner wildlife viewing.

Yet even among this competition for attention, it’s the food and drink that win out. Hours-long meals—perhaps better described as events—toe the line between twists on familiar fine dining staples and the deeply experimental.

Here, diners are in good hands at the direction of partner and executive chef Chris Royster and beverage director Ali Yakich. The staff can skillfully guide diners through a four-course dinner, though for a full (and extremely filling) taste of what the Flagstaff House team can do, opt for the eight-dish chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings.

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The experimental side of the show comes fast with a starter of chilled pea soup that successfully plays with unexpected combinations through a dollop of sorbet in the middle topped with bursts of briny caviar. A hand-sized mini grill comes still smoking from charcoal and lightly aromatic lavender buds. The lavender-glazed salmon on top, alongside asparagus and roe, is imbued with a campfire essence and paired with a light rosé with enough backbone to stand up to the big flavors. Plopped in the middle of the menu is Royster’s most whimsical dish: the Spring Garden. Carefully arranged to appear as if the ingredients are popping out of the dehydrated mushroom “dirt,” micro-sized greens and baby vegetables join poached rabbit loin and kidney. It’s a swing for the fences years in the works, and is paired with a heavenly 2020 Oregon pinot noir. Lamb gets full attention in a dish with the protein served two ways: grilled with a light touch of salt and pepper, and cooked in a sous vide with mustard seed for a sumptuous texture. Braised squab follows with a simple wild rice pilaf and blackberry fritter.

The marathon of dishes continues to play with expectations through a dessert highlighted by a blueberry cobbler with basil and ice cream. Yakich complemented the finale with a sweet tokaji wine framed with just enough acidity to cap the dining experience.