By Kim Fuller Published in Colorado + Life Magazine
The roots of nostalgia run deep at chef Daniel Asher and restauranteur Josh Diner’s new venture in Boulder. River and Woods is located in the historic home of what was once John’s Restaurant, a culinary landmark that stood on Pearl Street for nearly four decades. I went to John’s as a little girl with my dad, and driving by the small house throughout my college years in Boulder always brought back fond memories of one of my first tastes of fine dining and hospitality.
Asher and Diner know how comfort food holds a special place in everyone’s heart, especially in a warm and welcoming space like River and Woods. The renovation from John’s was tasteful and opened up the home to be less segmented and more bright. Additionally, a covered backyard area has been curated for dining and special events.
The restaurant’s concept implements “crowd-sourced cuisine,” creating an interactive process that allows guests to share their beloved family recipes. Asher is the former culinary director of The Edible Beats Group. He was a significant part of the success of Denver restaurants Root Down, Linger and Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Even with all his experience of developing outstanding dishes and well-balanced menus, Asher makes up the River and Woods food options from an ongoing selection of recipes that have been submitted.
My party of three (including my dad), visited River and Woods on a rainy April evening, and the inviting space and warming food hit the spot on so many levels. Asher’s presence in the restaurant is a special thing to witness, as he’s one of the most jolly and genuine chefs I have ever met. He sent out John’s gnocchi verde, a rich and bright rendition of the original recipe from chef John, and certainly a nod to his culinary heritage that still seems to resonate in the space.
A wide selections of wine and craft beers are on tap, as well as creative cocktails to mirror the farm-to-table comfort food. We shared a number of sides, like Lauren’s smoked cherry and goat cheese smashed potatoes (creamy yet full of great texture), and some seasonal deviled eggs (savory and unique). The meal went on and on, with many notable additions, but the homemade apple pie with a slice of cheddar on top may have been my favorite dish of the night. We boxed up most of the slice and had it for breakfast the next day, already reminiscing of a very special meal, in a very special place.