Food Three-and-a-half stars
Service Three-and-a-half stars
Ambience Three stars
Address: 4800 Baseline Rd., #A109, Boulder
Contact: 720-627-5040, breakfastchampionboulder.com
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m-4 p.m. Saturday
Noise Level: Low, particularly during breakfast, although some overly dramatic background music hinting at intrigue would have been just the ticket while we enjoyed our intense Turkish coffees.
As restaurant names go, the moniker of Boulder's Breakfast Champion only tells part of the story. While it's certainly true that morning's meal is served here, and some might surmise it's a haven for Vonnegut fans (it's not), it also serves lunch and an array of baked goods.
The last part isn't terribly surprising, as it occupies the Baseline and Foothills strip-mall space formerly occupied by a European bakery. Additionally, the space and signage is little changed from that of the previous tenant.
But what distinguishes Breakfast Champion from other local eateries is the availability of numerous Turkish delicacies, both sweet and savory.
The breakfast menu features offerings for all tastes, and includes such familiar selections as crepes, pancakes and omelettes. But there's also a handful of unique Turkish breakfasts, including both sausages and cured beef paired with eggs, among other seldom seen specialties.
For a solo morning meal, I opted for the $16.99 Turkish breakfast plate, also available for two for $24.99. The single serving is an expansive offering, and it could easily feed two. Anchored by soft fingers of seeded bread, this repast consisted of several small plates and condiments. At the top of the plate were sweet Turkish strawberry preserves, butter and Nutella. A single hardboiled egg, cooked to perfection without a hint of rubberiness, sat inside a small cup.
Clotted cream, similar in texture to soft cheese and carrying appealingly tangy tones, came drizzled in honey. This addictive spread was one of this selection's high points. The same could be said for an elegantly simple and refreshing salad of crisp cucumber rounds and ruby red ripe tomato, lightly dressed with olive oil. The quality of the produce was such that minimal adornment was all that was needed to enjoy these vegetables. Petite briny olives of fine quality contributed a salty counterpoint.
Slices of — what the server described as Turkish pastrami — possessed a soft texture not unlike bologna, albeit with superior flavor. My favorite of the two meat offerings was what staff deemed a jerky, but in reality it was much closer in taste and consistency to higher-end Italian beef charcuterie. A dish of semi-soft Turkish cheese rounded things out, with large crumbles possessing a subtle blue-like pungency, and smooth cubes tasted similar to a sharper Jack.
On another visit, a friend and I opted for lunch, and the stand-out choice was the $7.99 appetizer mix. Saksuka, a ratatouille-like mix of eggplant, tomato, pepper and onion was a hearty choice spotlighting bright and fresh flavors. Kisur, a bulgur-based dish dressed in parsley and olive oil with a touch of onion was remarkably flavorful. The same was true of the clean-tasting baba ganoush, which relied more on the satisfying flavors of the eggplant as opposed to added fats. Lastly, dolmas were first-rate, with a textured-rice filling and moist grape-leaf wrappers, and just the right measure of citrus zing.
For dessert, we enjoyed $1.99 squares of dense baklava, available in both walnut and pistachio varieties. While certainly sweet, these desserts still let us discern the distinct flavor of each nut, our consensus favorite being the more floral tasting pistachio over the earthy walnut.
Last but not least, we concluded lunch with a pair of $3.50 Turkish coffees, a uniquely presented treat well worth the price of admission. These beverages arrived luxuriously presented atop an ornate silver tray, including metal-topped glasses, evoking Turkish architecture, filled with water so as to cleanse the mouth before drinking. Along with this beverage, our friendly server threw in a charming anecdote about Ottoman Empire hospitality. Diminutive porcelain cups encased in elaborate metal holders held potent shots of deeply dark coffee and its fine grounds. A touch of sugar rounded off the bitter edge of the brew, making for one of the better and more powerful coffee options in town. Turkish Delight candy was also part of the offering, helping offset the brew's considerable intensity. As a final note, my companion and I simultaneously felt the caffeine kick in at the same instant, which made for a rather hyperkinetic, albeit productive, afternoon.
Breakfast Champion, despite its somewhat cryptic name, successfully introduces unique and fresh flavors to the Boulder dining scene for a quite reasonable tariff. Dishes such as the appetizer plate make for a fine light, meatless meal, and even more familiar options like baba ganoush seem new again, given this eatery's clean and authentic take.