Arugula Bar e Ristorante

When you are at unfamiliar town/city, it is always helpful to ask the locals for recommendation where to get good food. We went to this fancy restaurant, where they seem to have good seafood and meat selections. We came with a high expectation, which is not always a good thing.

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Inside was clean with some modern design, the walls seem to be painted with black chalkboard paint, and they had some interesting drawings on it with white chalk. I thought that was quite interesting.

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They also had this 3-D abstract art on the wall, it was interesting to look at. They didn’t seem to have any color other than the color of wood on the floor and ceiling. Just simple, clean design.

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They had this salt on the table with olive oil on for the bread, I liked how they had regular salt and flavored salt.

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I had two different cocktails throughout the dinner. First one was called Orange is the new black ($11), made with Orange vodka, Campari, Sweet vermouth, Orange slice, and Orange blossom water. It was good, not great. It had good orange flavor, not overly sweet. The second one was called the Melon Sunrise ($10), made with Melon vodka, Muddled cucumber, Blood orange, Lime, and Soda. It was very sweet, more so than expected. It had strong melon flavor but didn’t really taste cucumber flavor.

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I ordered Crab Soup ($6) as an appetizer. You could do cup or bowl, and I ordered the “cup” which came in a b0wl anyways… I guess if you ordered the “bowl” it would have came in a larger bowl? The soup came with fried leeks and toasted almonds. It was nice, not great. The color of the soup was not very appetizing… I think I was imagining something more like a lobster bisque type, so I was a bit disappointed. One thing I liked was the toasted almonds, they added nice nutty flavor to the soup.

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We also ordered some side dishes and appetizers to share among the table. We had Steamed p.e.i. Mussels ($14) in red wine garlic broth with chili flakes and fresh parsley. It also comes with shoestring potatoes and spicy dijon aioli. The mussels were not great, it was so…”fishy” to me. I have had mussels many times, and never so put off by it. Others at the table seemed to like them… Sauce was good but it felt like the mussels didn’t really soak up much sauce flavor. But, the fries, they were amazing! I don’t know how they made them, but they were so tasty! Lightly fried, right amount of seasoning, and thin and crispy, flavorful. The spicy aioli was the best, it had Tabasco in it to make it spicy, which was awesome. Very tasty, with just s little kick to it. Very addictive!

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We also ordered Calamari and Shrimp Scampi ($13), which are slow poached, with fresh herbs and garlic. It comes with olive tapenade, avocado mousse and lemon toasted ciabatta crumbles. It was ok, lots of shrimp and some calamari. It was not great, felt like it was missing some flavor. Nothing special.

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We also had Prosciutto and Mozzarella ($14), which came with shaved san danielle prosciutto and house stretched mozzarella, with pepperoncini, herb cured black olives, basil pesto, pistachios and grilled ciabatta. Prosciutto was nice, had good saltiness to it without being too salty. Ciabatta was nice and crispy, and soft mozzarella added nice flavor and texture to the palate.

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Between the appetizers and main dish, the servers brought a pallet cleanser, which was nice. It was lemon sorbet, and it certainly did its job. It was very refreshing, good, clean flavor. The only bad thing was that when they brought this to us, I asked the female server what it was, she yelled “Pallet Cleanser!” which was very obvious… So, I rephrased the question in the different way, and asked “what is the flavor?” she yelled again the answer really sharp and quick. She seemed very angry all the time… Not a way to be when you are in a service profession.

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So, the main dish, I was trying to decide between their risotto or the cod. I ended up choosing the risotto. It was Scallop and Carrot Risotto ($28), which came with roasted garlic, kale chips, agro dolce, pea shoots and toasted almonds. The scallops were plump and flavorful, while the risotto was undercooked and had no flavor. Crunchy kale was nice, had good seasoning. I ate scallops and kale, and left most of the risotto. Very disappointed.

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My colleague ordered the cod that I was thinking of ordering, and it looked so much better than my dish… It was Jumbo Cod ($26), seared over sweet potato brandade with caper-roasted beet tapenade, fresh basil and paprika potato chips. He said it was just ok, not great either.

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When we were all finished with our dinner, they brought us after-dinner drink, which was Limonchello. It was extremely sweet, almost shockingly sweet. That is all you taste, is the sweetness. And a little lemon.

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I had a cappuccino at the end, which was nice, nothing special.

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Overall, it was not as good as expected… That is what happens sometimes, when you go in with such high expectation. It is always better to go with low or no expectation, and be wowed. The locals said that the it used to be better, and that maybe they have a new chef at the kitchen, which is possible. Service was ok, the male server was attentive and helpful, but the female server was just plain awful.

Arugula Bar e Ristorante – 2785 Iris Ave, Boulder, CO 80304

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