Cafe Aion, Boulder, Colorado, USA
1235 Pennsylvania Avenue
Boulder, CO 80302-7095
by Shreddie Kruger
Boulder is one of America’s most interesting cities: like an experimental new age version of America. It’s nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, a 40 minute drive from Denver which is known as Mile High City because of a stratospheric altitude that makes everything just a little bit tiring. Outdoor sports zealots mix with Colorado University students and hippies by the hemp sack-load. Walking around the immaculately clean streets meanwhile it’s not hard to imagine what it was like back in the days of real horsepower and saloon bars. Locals have to be careful of the wildlife that roams around town: dogs frequently get snatched by mountain lions and it’s very common to see deer stretching their legs around the leafier areas of town.
Whilst Boulder feels so different from mainstream America, thankfully it still excels at brunch. Only in America could you get away with eating braised short ribs first thing in the morning. At newly opened Café Aion, near Boulder’s University of Colorado campus, they serve them with shoe string fries and poached eggs on their sunny terrace. You eat and you watch a view of the Flat Iron Mountains, changing colour like a chameleon snoozing in front of a disco light. It makes you want to do a Paddington Bear and bottle the combination in a jam jar.
The short ribs were braised until tender and then grilled to add some charry flavour. The succulent meat was a perfect foil for the flawlessly poached eggs. But the shoe string fries were so thin and crispy that they were impossible to grapple with. Each time you tried to spear them with your fork they splintered into tinier and tinier pieces of carbo-shrapnel. Forget about any yolk absorbtion.
A bowl of granola, yoghurt and Moroccan stewed fruit made us feel more healthy whilst a Bellini cocktail seemed rude to refuse and let us linger for longer as we watched the natives of Boulder go about their lives: students tried to break into a car that had been abandoned in the middle of a main road; runners eased down the hill and struggled on the way back up; Enormous SUVs with tyres the size of Denver rumbled past like earthquakes on wheels; and sprinklings of aspiring writers tapped away at laptops no doubt watching us watching them in a seemingly infinite regression of observation.
Café Aion’s brunch was first class. It’s rare to find such an interesting menu, graced with a range of dishes you hardly ever see at breakfast time. And it’s worth a visit for the short ribs alone.