Dinner at Lyons’ Marigold is well worth the drive from Boulder. Or from Denver. Heck, it’s worth the drive from Colorado Springs. Marigold is a tiny restaurant in a tiny town, but the food would be notable almost anywhere.
On the menu are always two or three hand-mixed, rolled and extruded pastas, including the staple rigatoni, long simmered with pork, lamb, tomatoes and mirepoix for a rich and meaty Bolognese. There are the seemingly straightforward appetizers that throw you for a loop (a very good loop) when your Caesar salad arrives as hand-held bites covered in bonito flakes and puffed rice. And the rest of the concise menu, which rotates every couple of days depending on what chef/owner Theo Adley and his team of talented cooks want to make and what they get from local farmers and ranchers, is rounded out with drive-worthy flavor combinations and preparations.
Theo has worked in many esteemed kitchens around the state—Frasca, Montagna at the Little Nell, the Populist—and Marigold, which opened last July, can go fork-to-fork with any of them. Fried chicken loving Boulderites might recognize him from his now-defunct The Pinyon restaurant, but the food at Marigold is all about what Theo and his team want to cook. Which, luckily for us, is so good that it’s also everything you want to be eating, even if you don’t know it yet.
Take that Caesar. The “salad” arrives at your table as two chunks of little gem lettuce covered in the familiar dressing and topped with puffed rice for crunch and large flakes of bonito to stand in for the traditional anchovies. At Marigold, Caesar salad becomes finger food, and it’s way more fun to eat than the classic.
That rigatoni Bolognese with pork, lamb and a chile finish is always on the menu, and another pasta—rolled out earlier that day on the long, wooden table you’ll see as soon as you walk in—joins it. The night I went it was bucatini with prawns, cooked with lobster stock, white wine, chile crisp and a welcome heavy hand of garlic, and it was one of the best pastas I’ve eaten in a while.
The trio of entrees are often chicken (the half chicken under a brick with yogurt and fresh herb-loaded salsa verde is another menu staple), a fish and something more—whatever Theo and the kitchen team think would be fun to cook and eat. One night it was cotechino sausage (a thick-sliced Italian sausage), which showed how perfectly Theo nails flavors. The rounds of sausage, with the smashed potatoes, crisp arugula and, the kicker, horseradish cream, was a hearty and majorly satisfying bite when you got all four components together.
Cocktails are similarly great, like the just-sweet-enough pomegranate Aperol spritz and the unique London fog toddy, which combines gin with earl grey tea and a cream float. Wines are focused on low-intervention, organic and biodynamic natural wine producers, which makes for a unique and varied list. The salty ginger cooler mocktail was just as salty and gingery as advertised.
While driving up to Lyons may not be what you typically have scheduled for a, say, Wednesday night, it should be. Marigold’s cozy space, balanced drinks and especially Theo’s amazing food, are well worth the miles.
Marigold: 405 Main St., Lyons; marigoldlyons.com