A couple of weeks ago I went to Boulder, Colorado to visit my good friend Becky who lives there. I had never been to Boulder before and virtually knew nothing about the city except that hiking and rock climbing were popular activities. As we, actually mostly she was planning where to go, what to do, and most importantly where to eat, I started to faintly recall that Hosea Rosenberg had a restaurant there, Jax Fish House. For those of you who don’t watch Top Chef, (gasp!), Hosea was the winner of season five. I personally was rooting for finalist Stefan Richter, but I guess the cards or shall I say knives weren’t chopping in his favor (haha).
We arrived there five minutes before happy hour ended, which barely left us enough time to order drinks. We both opted for the strawberry lemonade made of strawberry infused vodka with lemonade. We were both exhausted from a physically and mentally challenging rock climbing session and so the sweet, cool, princess pink drink was the perfect way to refresh ourselves. There were so many attractive dishes on the happy hour menu like $1 oysters, pork belly sliders, and baby beets with goat cheese and balsamic. If we had only gotten their 15 minutes earlier…
We waited about 45 minutes for a table in the crowded and cramped bar/front. The atmosphere was casual and fun, a mix between a fisherman’s wharf and fine dining. Adorning the exposed brick wall are framed photographs of fishermen both young and old, wearing Jax apparel and holding their catch of the day.
By the time we sat down, we were ready to order. We decided to share a bowl of the chicken and crawfish gumbo with andouille and rice as our appetizer. I went with the Mississippi skillet catfish with butterbean puree, fresh garbanzos, andouille, and pepper jelly, while Becky ordered one of the specials, hemi fish with cooked bokchoy, peas, and a sweet corn puree and relish (if I remember correctly).
The gumbo was stunningly presented with a mini lobster and two corn bread coins. To say the least, the soup was less than spectacular and stunning in the wrong way. The spices were way too strong and the aftertaste of pepper made me thirsty for hours. Becky described it as a horrible rendition of canned soup. Maybe we both didn’t know the proper taste of gumbo, but this was not the soup we had imagined. There was, however, a silver lining to the dish, the cornbread. It was sweet and salty with a nice firm crust and crumbly inside. I’m a sucker for cornbread and could eat it anytime and anywhere.
Our main dishes were more pleasing to our tastes. Becky’s hemi (a fish we had both never heard of) was reminiscent of chicken or cooked tuna. It was firm but soft to the touch. The sweet corn puree was definitely a winner. My catfish was served blackened and tasted bland by itself but perfect with the pepper jelly. I enjoyed the butternut squash puree, which kind of served a mashed potato type role on the plate. I think the roasted vegetables could’ve held without the bits of andouille, which were tough and too salty.
Overall all the dishes were very intense with strong flavors. Pepper was the overriding taste in all the plates. I think if we had ordered a cooler and lighter appetizer, like the organic local green salad, the meal as a whole would’ve come together much better.
We decided to skip dessert at Jax to get gelato at Two Spoons a few blocks down on Pearl Street. Our cold scoops of walnut and pistachio gelato were the perfect way to end the day and cleanse our palettes.
I wouldn’t necessarily go to Jax again, but I do recommend going there at least once if you’re in the area. You’ll most likely be able to see Hosea, who came out to the dining area a number of times while we were eating. I desperately wanted to take a photograph of him but was too embarrassed and unskilled to flash his face with stealth. Oh well, I’m not a big fan of his anyway.