Local eateries can be counted on to deliver light summer fare to satisfy your cravings and beat the heat in home kitchens. and you don’t have to do the dishes after your fresh dining experience. As summer deepens in Colorado, home kitchens are often abandoned. The heat outside dampens the urge to crank up the oven, turn on the stove and even nuke food in the microwave. The Pikes Peak region’s restaurants — especially those with patios — bustle with kitchen refugees who are eager to have someone else cook their meals and, as a bonus, do the dishes afterward. In my experience, the heat also changes food preferences. All tastes for anything hearty or heavy disappear, and instead, we crave fresh, light food and often, raw or lightly cooked meals served cold or at room temperature. Thankfully, our local eateries more than adequately step up to the task of satisfying summer cravings, offering many cool, light options perfect for eaters looking to beat the heat.
Only the five-star Broadmoor hotel would base an English pub-themed bar and restaurant on an actual 19th-century English pub shipped from London, complete with gas lights, regal mahogany carvings, a tin ceiling and heady pints of Boddingtons Pub Ale.
That, along with a darn good traditional pub menu, yards of beer, servers that throw cool embroidered bee stickers at diners, and piano singalongs (whew!), makes the Golden Bee the least stuffy and most fun of The Broadmoor's eateries.
In order to accurately judge this English pub, I had dinner there with an English judge.
We perused the menu of this 50-year-old pub, which includes Anglican takes on good old American bar snacks (Fried Gloucester Cheese Sticks, $7.95), truly English dishes such as a Cornish pasty - the English Hot Pocket - filled with beef, carrots, onions and potatoes ($8.95), and "English Specialties" such as a chicken pot pie ($12.50).
Most people come to the Bee to drink and sing along with the piano player, Bud Kruezer. But after reviewing the evidence - English, American and otherwise - we ruled that the place is spot on.
Sure, English cuisine doesn't have the best reputation in the United States ("It's not all brown; some of it is beige," the judge said), but the Bee proves otherwise.
The slender, ale-battered fillets of Icelandic cod in the fish and chips ($13.95) didn't get caught in the net of being too greasy, like most local fish and chips.
The delicious Steak and Mushroom Pie, braised in stout ($11.75), came crowned with a golden, flaky crust and could easily have fed two.
The seafood chowder ($5.50) arrived more New England-like - that old, thick and creamy soup loaded with potatoes. But why bring up past differences when the fish and oysters in it were so perfectly fresh-tasting and well-cooked? The same proved true of the shrimp cocktail ($12.50). The pinkie-size shrimp were pricey but proved perfectly blanched and worth the price.
Any problems were quickly whisked away by an excellent server - only the first perk of the bar being owned by The Broadmoor. The second is dessert. I rank ordering dessert at a pub right up there with teaching a dachshund to text message. Sure, it's a nice idea, but most just don't have the facilities to pull it off. At the Bee, however, dessert is fabulous. The bread pudding had the judge raving. A palm-size strawberry and rhubarb pie was fresh, tart and extraordinary, and a coffee cakelike blueberry crumble had our forks sparring for the last crumb.
The judge's ruling: "Quite lovely."
As we finished, the bar started to grow lively as dozens of conventioneers staying at the hotel funneled in. The piano player, in vest and sleeve garters, pounded out old tunes, and the beer-emboldened crowd started to sing along in a jolly tradition that has won this bar so many longtime local followers.
The golden bee
(Great place to get a buzz)
Address: 1 Lake Ave. (beneath The Broadmoor International Center)
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m. daily
Liquor: Full bar