There's a scene from Woody Allen's Annie Hall, in which he orders from a trendy café menu: "I'm gonna have the alfalfa sprouts and, uh, a plate of mashed yeast." Nearly 40 years later, I can't help but hear Allen's awkward, mousy voice as I scan Natural Epicurean's menu.
In name alone, The Broadmoor's newest eatery strikes a pose that screams holistic yet hedonistic, like an organic, free-range chicken egg hit with hollandaise. But NE actually exudes an airy lightness at all turns, with the most gossamer of fingerprints across its menu. And they're the farmers' mostly, not those of 31-year old chef de cuisine Brian Wallace, who collaborated with property executive sous chef David Patterson on the fresh concept: "to find really good ingredients, show restraint in cooking, and let the natural flavors shine."
Seasonal items hail from Arkansas Valley Organic Growers, Naturescape Microgreens, and former Broadmoor exec chef Sigi Eisenberger's Bio Herbs and More. Indeed an eater feels as though Wallace has tastefully assembled a common CSA basket of simple ingredients and let them play, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as bountiful as the harvest.
The green, orange and natural wood color palette of a typical smoothie or juice bar leads NE's interior design. To the right, open views lead from the front entryway into the tiny kitchen; to the left, past a coffee and juice counter into a glass-walled cooler of fruits, veggies and wheatgrass trays; and in the center, through wall-wide exits, to a somewhat Tuscan-styled patio.
The mood-lifting assault continues with refreshing cold-pressed juices ($6 to $8) that are more like infused tonic waters than the typical sappy liquids that bleed from your home juicer. Sparkling water from the Broadmoor's own filtration system aids that effort at times, and garnishes like a blood orange slice on the Big Red (with mango, orange and spearmint) dazzle, sunlight illuminating purple and red hues.
Colorado-spirit and 100-percent fresh juice cocktails ($11.75) beam with vibrancy too, like our vodka watermelon-basil martini sweetened with a touch of agave nectar, which sees wide sugar substitution across the menu. (That's despite the likes of Dr. Oz vilifying agave for having more fructose even than high-fructose corn syrup. Hey, we are talking health here, right?)
A nearly ethereal chilled cucumber soup ($7) gets a lemon accent, with Wallace noting how acid components bring "brightness" to much of the menu instead of salt. Hence chipotle pico de gallo pepping up quinoa and marinated red beets ($12), and ginger balsamic vinaigrette joining a Greek yogurt's tang on a special caramelized Palisade peach salad special ($14).
Mexican-style street tacos ($13) are astoundingly light via skinless turkey breast meat and lots of lime bite, plus fruity elements from the traditional mole sauce. Massaman Curry ($25) delivers only four tiger prawns with brown rice; Wallace wants the vegetable medley to star with its sweet sauce. The menu finally approaches heft with a stellar bison burger ($15).
Though it's freakishly effortless to break $100 for two for a modest meal, you'd be wise to reserve $8 for the organic egg white pavlova for dessert. The pillow of meringue-like fluff encapsulates sweet yogurt topped with mixed berries and edible flowers. Prettiest. Dessert. Ever.
Woody might be flummoxed, but damn satisfied.