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For years, Boulderites flocked to the little wine bar on 13th Street for its famous bottomless wine, family service and stylish atmosphere. Then, one day the little wine bar gave up its name, Trilogy, and the b.side lounge stepped into its place.
“Trilogy closed in mid-May, and two weeks later b.side opened,” said Maya Weinstein, a b.side employee and a senior art history major.
Having replaced the three-sisters who owned Trilogy, Betsy Workman now owns the red-walled, trendy locale, which can only be described as the former popular wine bar minus the family-owned affability.
“Our menu now caters to a wider audience. We also have cleaner décor, half off appetizers during happy hour and late-night food specials on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Weinstein said.
Indeed there is a hefty food menu, a good-sized martini list, a modest array of wines and frequent live music. Yet as I sat at one of the dark wooden tables, listening to the Indie music playing overhead, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing.
My guest, Alison Mesinger, and I started with three appetizer-sized portions off of the small plates menu. House made foccacia ($3) was served alongside marinated Kalamata olives and an herbed butter that, even when slathered on, could not bring the foccacia back from being dry and tasteless.
I’ve recently begun an informal experiment in which restaurants are put to the test with the ultimate landlocked-state challenge: seafood ceviche. At b.side, they advertise theirs as fresh and served with avocado and crisp parsnip chips ($8).
To my dismay, the kitchen failed the test with evidently fish that was not fresh and dismal flavorings.
Finally, in keeping with our server’s suggestion, we ordered the samosas ($7). These two hot morsels were filled with a vegetable medley and served over savory lentils and mango chutney. This may sound exotic, and perhaps they were the best of the small plates we tried, but still they tasted tired and worn-out. While edible, the small plates left us silently hoping that our entrées would win us over.
My flatbread pizza ($8), topped with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and a pesto sauce was advertised on the menu as “made with today’s freshest organic ingredients.” Yet it seemed as though the ingredients scattered atop the pie were exhausted, perhaps from having been around too long. Still, the dish was good enough that I brought the other half home for lunch the next day.
My guest’s enchiladas boasted vegan status, although Alison, not a vegan by any stretch of the imagination, requested them with chicken. The green chili sauce was tasty with just the right amount of poblano spice, and the chicken was nicely grilled. But a pile of black beans hiding beneath the enchiladas appeared as though they’d been open in the restaurant for weeks, and looked battered, shriveled and small.
Alison and I were left feeling weary at the end of our meal. Perhaps it was the lackluster food or perhaps it was the meager service we received all evening. A young woman, dressed in nothing that indicated her job as a waitress, leisurely strolled about and was difficult to attract when we needed something.
Needless to say, we departed less than enthused.
But despite a poor experience, I’d go back. We dined at b.side on a Tuesday night at 8:00, which understandably is a dawdling hour for restaurants – especially those focused on nightlife. The food isn’t likely to change on a different night, but perhaps the ambience will. And sometimes there is nothing better than a night on the town with some good friends, good drinks and good atmosphere.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lauren Duncan at Lauren.Duncan@colorado.edu