Restaurant Review: Blind Lady Tavern
Blind Lady Tavern opened on Mound Street in a spot that has seen lots of action in the last five years. It had a stint in the Liz Lessner empire as The Jury Room. After the Jury Room closed, a meatball spot called “Balls” was going to move in, but when public reception of the name was dramatically awful, Balls became 1831 Tavern for a quick six-month run.
So when the Blind Lady hit the scene last year somewhat quietly, it was easy at first to overlook. While cocktail aficionados rave about its beverage options, in terms of edibles, it was hard to hold out any hope.
Until now. After the restaurant’s win at CU’s recent Best Bites Burgers, you gotta wonder what else the Blind Lady has up her proverbial sleeve. The answer to that question is indisputably Hangtown Toast. In the waning weeks of 2016, it seems clear that Hangtown Toast is going to be this year’s favorite thing.
On the menu, Hangtown Toast ($9) doesn’t sound terribly appetizing: it’s billed as toast with pickled eggs, bacon and oyster vinaigrette. According to the internet that combo’s origin dates back to the days of the gold rush in California. There are two competing versions of the story. One is that, when miners struck gold, they’d celebrate with the most expensive, rare edibles at the time: eggs and oysters. The other version is that the combo was the last meal request of a condemned prisoner, and he deliberately chose rare ingredients to extend his time on the planet.
Give the toast a whirl. It’s listed as a starter, but it’s served with nice, lightly dressed frilly salad greens, so it makes a perfectly legitimate lunch. The grilled toast triangles are thick, with a layer of crunchy bacon pressed firmly and securely to the top. On top of the bacon are slices of piquant pickled egg slices boasting with golden edges, courtesy the pickling process.
Sounds bleh? That’s because we haven’t gotten to the vinaigrette part yet. The combo sports little droplets of the oyster stuff. It looks more like a cream sauce and it’s a game changer. Savory and impossibly smooth and creamy. It’s just perfect in a way that’s different and makes every bite universally worthy of worship.
So, if you go, you have to order the toast. There are other perfectly good things on the menu too. Case in point: Red Beans n’ Rice ($7). It’s also listed as a starter and arrives nicely plated (“bowled”?) with a tidy scoop of rice in the center. The beans are mild and starchy and they support thick, lean slices of flavorful andouille.
Sandwiches are big and luxe. The Shrimp ($11 and served with dressed frisée) features crackle-coated crustaceans, fried dark with cajun seasoning. They’re teamed with a red cabbage slaw and some aioli, then packaged in a poofy bun: good value, if a little messy to consume.
There’s a Pork Sandwich ($12) on the menu too. It features five-spice braised pork belly layered with crunchy jalapeño, and more slaw. The combo makes a pleasant, hearty cousin to bahn mi… or there’s always the prize-winning burger (it’s a veggie version on the menu).
The acclaimed cocktail hour runs from 4pm until 7pm. The menu pays homage to prior occupants with concoctions that bear their names, including options such as The Jury Room (based in bourbon) and 1831 (based in gin). It’s closed Mondays, but you can stop by on the other days of the week at 22 E. Mound.
For more information, visit www.blindladytavern.com.
Photos by Lillian Dent.