Acorn, the acclaimed restaurant and baby of Boulder’s OAK at fourteenth restaurant, recently renovated both it’s space and it’s offerings. In 2017, Acorn welcomed a new Executive Chef with a long history of leading lauded kitchens such as Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, The Little Nell in Aspen, and Mourad in San Francisco. Chef Ian Palazzola’s talent and experiences are channeled into his new menu at Acorn, which features a thoughtful collection of dishes inspired by where he has been, where is he now, and where he wants to go. “His blended cuisine celebrates Colorado's bounty, but is rooted in Southern tradition and accented with bold spices and global flavors.
This is the first time the restaurant has undergone such significant changes since opening its doors inside The Source in 2013. In addition to their new Chef and menu, Acorn expanded into the former Western Daughter's Butcher Shoppe space this summer. The added space gave Acorn a new temperature-controlled wine room and a meat locker for dry-aging special cuts, meaning you’ll definitely see some great wines and aged meats on the new menu.
Acorn's menu still focuses on small plates, but the large-format options have become more robust with one of every protein usually on the rotation. When we dined, the offerings were robust indeed: 24-hour cured Moroccan Lamb (Palazzola’s last restaurant was a Michigan star Moroccan restaurant in San Fran). A 14-day dry aged Hudson Duck Confit, a 24oz 45-day dry aged certified ribeye, and a classic roast chicken.
To start, Chef presented us with their cured rocky mountain trout covered in colorful apple, celery, dill and flowers and an amazing seasonal dish composed of Jimmy Peppers, a smoked corn purée and greens. This madly of flavors and ingredients was unlike anything we’ve eaten before and we loved it. The one thing that remains on the all-new Acorn menu is their beloved Kale & Apple salad with candied almonds and lemon vinaigrette.
After our lovely, light starters we got a new Acorn staple off of their Heirloom grains and Veggie section, the Heirloom Blue Cornbread with surryano ham and whiskey maple butter. The special cornmeal used is shipped in from Anson Mills in the Carolinas, and they are also used to supply Acorn’s grits & golden rice. The cornbread comes with Surryano ham, America’s version of prosciutto, and really turns up the volume on that sweat and savory flavor one loves about cornbread!
The team behind Acorn aims for it to be a place where everyone can feel comfortable, from making an easy to read menu, a range of taste options and beverages, but also a menu that will excite the foodies and the chefs that dine and work here. The team also aims for as little waste as possible, not just in their restaurant, but also at the farms they purchase from. For example, Acorn will buy the early, unripe fruits and vegetables that farms generally can’t sell but need to pick, and use them in pickling, syrups, sauces, etc.
The desserts are always creative at Acorn, and we tried the Coconut Cream and the Pistachio Diplomat. The Coconut Cream had a pana cotta base with seasonal palisade peaches, tart ginger and a meringue candy topping. Our favorite was the Pistachio Diplomat, a lemon cake infused with rose water, topped with a pistachio and quince (a rare, pear-like fruit) whipped cream and edible flowers. It tasted as good as it looked.
Stop by Acorn for lunch, dinner, drinks or the next time you’re going to a show at Mission Ballroom. The Source Hotel provides pre-show parking with a free shuttle to and from the show for only $5.
Written by Tiffany Candelaria Photographed by Samantha Bliss