October 19, 2011

Snooze, a New Boulder “A.M. Eatery,” Serves Tons of Delicious Gluten-Free Dishes

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Snooze is, frankly, awesome. There is no other way to put it. Even though it opened less than a month ago, this new Boulder restaurant was packed with guests, and for good reason. The food, service, and atmosphere was exceptional, and, near and dear to our hearts, they have a large selection of gluten-free menu items. After a visit there on a recent afternoon, we are more than comfortable offering Snooze our unqualified endorsement.

Boulder’s Snooze is located on Pearl Street, about a block and half beyond where the brick sidewalk ends to the east. It is the most recent addition to the Snooze chain, which has three restaurants in Denver, where Snooze began, and one in Fort Collins. They also plan, in the spirit of Manifest Destiny, to expand west, with a new location set to open in San Diego in November of this year. All the better for San Diego.

The interior of the Boulder location is quite nice; the design, which is light, friendly and energetic, has a bit of a cartoonish feel, vaguely reminiscent of the animation used in The Fairly OddParents, that thoroughly bizarre cartoon on Nickelodeon that ceased production too soon after three magical years. Snooze can definitely accommodate a crowd, as there are lots of tables and booths on the inside, and there is a patio that lines Pearl Street as well, which is where we ate during our visit. There is also a nice bar to the right of the entrance that can seat another ten or so people. As the presence of the bar partially suggests, Snooze sells alcohol, which isn’t surprising, except insofar as they don’t try get some wordplay out of this fact. (Their website already features “Snooze Nooze,” as in, the news pertaining to Snooze, so whither “Snooze Booze”?)

On to the main event: the food, the general features of which should be noted upfront. First, all of Snooze’s menu items are made from scratch in the kitchen of the restaurant. This is clear, as the food is too good to be anything but freshly prepared. Second, Snooze strives to use high-quality ingredients – they hand-select their produce and use meats from farm-raised, free-range animals, as well as utilize local ingredients whenever possible. Third, all the food looks really great, or at least this was the case with our own plate and the plates served around us. Snooze clearly cares about presentation, so much so that you get the impression that you are eating in a high-end, classy joint, and as far as we’re concerned you basically are, but the relatively cheap prices suggest otherwise.

Fortunately, a great deal of this excellent menu is open to gluten-free eaters. In fact, there are so many gluten-free options that it is easier to list what you can’t get than what you can. The menu items with gluten are the usual suspects, dishes like the Breakfast Pot Pie that incorporates a flaky puff pastry made with gluten, as well as two types of pancakes (the Sweet Potato and Blue Mesa Pancakes) that, because of their batter, can’t be made gluten-free.

This leaves a lot of gluten-free food available. Those on the gluten-free diet can get standard breakfast fare (like a plate of eggs, hash browns, and a breakfast meat, as well as omelets, breakfast burritos, etc.), a variety of different pancakes (save the two mentioned above), and several brunch items, including sandwiches on gluten-free bread that come with sides like hash browns, vegetarian black beans, and fresh fruit.

The pancakes are worth dwelling on for a moment because, one, they can be made gluten-free, which generally isn’t the case with pancakes at restaurants, and, two, the selections sound delicious and highly unique. Take, for example, the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes, made with chunks of caramelized pineapple, house-made vanilla crème anglaise, and cinnamon butter. Does this description not make your mouth water? What’s more, you can combine up to three pancake flavors, enabling you to create the precise pancake you feel like eating. Thanks to the excellent gluten-free bread available, french toast is also on the menu in a few different forms, like the Sticky Bun French Toast, a hybrid dish that, as the name implies, combines the best of sticky buns and french toast. Yet another highlight of the menu is the Vanilla Almond Oatmeal Brulée, which is served with a seasonal fruit medley and a small pot of cream. We had the pleasure of trying this dish during a visit to Snooze unrelated to the present review, and it was phenomenal. To compliment any of these dishes, there is a full coffee bar that uses fresh coffee flown in from Guatemala every week.

Although tempted, as always, to order huevos rancheros, we decided to go with something else because we recently ate huevos rancheros at the Walnut Cafe. Instead, we went with a the Sandwich I Am, a large sandwich made with a generous portion of scrambled eggs and a sausage patty that stretched from one side of the gluten-free bread to the other, just as one might expect if it were made from scratch in the kitchen. In between the layers of scrambled eggs was cheddar cheese and smoked cheddar hollandaise sauce that spilled out of the sandwich when we took our first bite. Every part of it was delicious, from the savory sausage to the perfectly cooked eggs to the light and fluffy bread, made not far from Boulder at Udi’s. The hollandaise was rich and smooth with cheddar overtones and a definite smoky bite.

On the side were hash browns, formed in the shape of a hockey puck, but twice as thick. The neat stack had a golden brown and crisp exterior that surrounded a hot and soft center. They were also perfectly spiced, surprisingly with only (or at least chiefly) pepper, as far as we could tell. They were considerably better than your average hash browns, among the best we’ve had in long time, and, despite their role as a mere side, they were one of the best parts of the meal.

Snooze will almost certainly continue to prosper in Boulder – the food is great, the atmosphere is laid back, and all the employees are very helpful. Furthermore, Snooze is a natural fit for a place like Boulder. They are environmentally minded – they compost, recycle, and use recyclable materials, and they are carbon-neutral – and the restaurant donates a percentage of their sales to the community. (The amount is unspecified, but since they call attention to their charitable work, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they aren’t setting aside, say, a tenth of a percent for the community.) To fully integrate themselves into the Boulder scene, all Snooze needs to do is adopt some hip new-age philosophy that emphasizes musings on feelings and “energy” over precise statements about reality. We don’t recommend this route, but perhaps Snooze values full assimilation, and this always come at a price – just ask the Native Americans, in English.

We would conclude this review by saying something clever like “you snooze you lose,” but this isn’t clever, we never liked this saying, and it doesn’t really make any sense, as there is no connection between your ability to eat at Snooze and the rate at which you pursue this end. Still, there is no reason to delay because it’s great place. We welcome Snooze with open arms to Boulder.

The Snooze’s full menu can be found here:

http://www.snoozeeatery.com/

(There is tab at the top that says “The Food,” where you will, indeed, find the food.)

Snooze’s Boulder location can be found here:

1617 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Note: Many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

Read Next Article » Superb Gluten-Free Pizzas Available at Boulder’s Z Pizza
Previous Article « You Can Get Gluten-Free Breakfast and Lunch at the Walnut Cafe in Boulder!

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