In the last year many a Pearl Street boulevardier may have peeked inquiringly into the doorway at Wild Standard, Bradford Heap’s high end seafood establishment, only to feel daunted by its exclusive seafood menu and a “dim sum style” table service that took some serious risks. (See our previous post on Wild Standard’s changes.) The venue is cheek-by-jowl with Heap’s successful Salt Bistro, in a location that in the last few years has seen rapid turnover after the decades-long tenure of Juanita’s Bar and Restaurant, Boulder’s choice for tequila and pool in centuries past.
Well, Heap and Executive Chef Derek Baril threw in the towel on the fish focus and the dim sum ….. and leapt back in the ring with a re-visioned menu and style. The change in weight class has produced a championship contender and Boulder diners should be prepared to be knocked out.
Based on a Tasting Menu prepared for us by Operations Manager Micah Nushawg, the new “Land & Sea” (don’t call it “Surf & Turf”) menu, combined with stunning decor and expert service should entice all Boulder foodies to check out Wild Standard for their next special, unforgettable meal.
Highlights from the Tasting Menu you will want to check out:
The Thai Spring Mussels were delicious, fresh and herby with a strong coconut pesto sauce that complimented (and occasionally overmatched) the shellfish. Garlic, cilantro and fresno chili perked up the taste buds for the coming rounds.
Watermelon Salad, with cucumber, feta, mint and pickled onion, was flat out superb. As a lukewarm fan of watermelon, I was delighted with the strong flavors in this summer salad.
Pan-Seared Sea Scallops. These New Bedford, MA giants come from fishmongers the chef has known for years, and prepared to the only recipe he brought from his working days in New Brunswick, ME. Served atop a summer vegetable succotash, with fava beans, thyme, and red peppers, this dish was the standout for this New England native. If you’ve ever cooked scallops, you know the precision required to sear them properly (ten seconds too long and you are crying in your butter); these were perfection. The succotash was fresh and balanced, and would have made a satisfying meal by itself.
Sumac Rubbed 7X Wagyu Beef. Grass-fed Colorado Wagyu beef retains the locavore-meets-dim-sum ideology of the previous incarnation of Wild Standard. Having given up steak a few years ago, I was hesitant to indulge in this dish, but I am glad I took the plunge: the micro-marbling and buttery texture is amazing; and I would like to think the care in preparation and the overall excellence of the dish somehow honors the animal. Served with a Palisade peach salsa and a housemade chimichurri, this is surely one of the best beef entries in town.
The Australian King Prawns served atop saffron risotto and a housemade ratatouille was for fans of Australian prawns: smoky, gamy and musty, they sparred intricately with the stunning ratatouille. (Once again, a “complement” that would make a fine dish all by itself.)
Wild Standard is committed to locally-sourced, non-GMO cuisine, and sustainably raised fish and meats. As anyone who has followed Heap’s career with Colterra and Salt knows, these are true values, not empty branding claims. (According to their website, Wild Standard is partnering with Bonneville Environmental Foundation water restoration and model watershed programs to raise awareness of the water needs in Colorado.)
The quality, care and style on display at Wild Standard guarantees a memorable dining experience. I have not even mentioned the clever cocktail menu (this season celebrating “influential women”) and the excellent wine service provided by our expert server Tiago. Glancing down at the full menu before me, my mouth is watering at the dishes I was not able to try, such as Maine Lobster Roll, Pok Pok Fried Chicken, Chilipepper Rockfish Fillet, and extensive oyster and shellfish sampler plates.
Next time you are walking the Pearl Piazza, and the siren call to Wild Standard beckons, I suggest you don’t resist.
Wild Standard invited our two writers to dine on the house. We gladly accepted. The views above are entirely our own and not influenced by the restaurant’s generosity.