It’s not trendy, but they do pasta.
And I do mean, “they do pasta.”
The Blue Parrot is in the tiny hamlet of Louisville Colorado, a few miles northwest of Denver. Expect ranches on the outskirts, a rail line through the middle of town, and a real Main Street.
The Berkenstock shod, sushi and sake sampling college crowd from Boulder a few miles away is in town today, a sunny warm Sunday following the first fall of snow – mostly melted now – but they’re across the street at The Huckleberry, LuLu’s and the Cactus Wheel, or up a block at the Bittersweet coffeehouse where I found wireless. Bittersweet’s patrons are typical of most of the town’s paying customers today. They are paging through textbooks, typing homework on Macs and PCs for school and sipping on a double latte half-caf with a shot of caramel while picking at the crumbs of some bloated fruit and nut muffin.
Louisville’s downtown, all two-by-three blocks of it, is obviously seeing new business. There are several new signs on the old buildings compared to when I was here before.
Most everyone on the street or sitting at the sidewalk tables of these new places is well under thirty.
The Parrot’s clients, on the other hand, are locals and decidedly not so young. I’m sure they’ve been going there for years. One patron today looked like he might’ve been a regular since 1919 when the place opened. These people know each other and the wait staff knows them. It’s family. It’s community.
Pasta is made in the back. The “to go” counter looks into the kitchen with its vats of red and white sauces with meat and vegetarian choices and, odds are you’ll see someone separating the freshly sliced, thick spaghetti that’ll be boiled and served over the next hour or sent as take away.
Expect al dente.
Don’t twirl your fork; the strands will break. Instead, spear a couple and lean over your plate as you try to get most of it in your mouth. You won’t. (Don’t wear a new shirt, or remember to ask for a bib. They have them.)
The sausage is also local and in a natural casing. It’s very meaty but not heavy, not greasy. Meatballs and patties are also available.
The after church lunch crowd at The Blue Parrot was small today. I fear this was not the exception. The decor needs a refresh. The menu, the tables, carpet, wallpaper and pictures could be from any decade for the past fifty – no, seventy – years.
The place could use a change but, more so, it needs some attitude. It needs to assert itself amongst all the change and say, “Tradition lasts.”
The Parrot will never be where the kids sit and do homework. Instead, when the tuition-paying parents visit Boulder to take the kids out for a good meal, perhaps the kids will suggest The Blue Parrot.
“It’s for old people,” they may wink at one another when the parents aren’t looking.
And maybe, just maybe, the kids will discover they like the food. It’s real food. It’s honest food. It’s good food that people have enjoyed for a long time, a very long time indeed.
And someday when that flaming liberal sociology professor rips into them for using those lame Microsoft graphics in their latest PowerPoint homework and they need some of Mom’s comfort food to heal their self-esteem, perhaps they’ll remember where to go.
There’s nothing wrong with good.