A science-decorated building is what I expected upon arriving at midtown Fort Collins’ new restaurant, The Laboratory, located at 1801 S College Ave. What I never did figure out is what business a laboratory has experimenting with food.
According to the scientific method, I first needed to gather evidence to support my hypothesis that 1) The ambience did in fact meet the criteria of a laboratory and 2) The experiment of creating tasty food was where this lab should devote its research.
The Laboratory is a bit of a puzzle to find, with no storefront facing the street. Only the sign, declaring the restaurant to be in the western plaza on College and Stuart, made me stop.
Even though the basement location is inconvenient, The Laboratory makes the most of its space.
On the back wall, a display case with technicolor lights illuminates a quirky myriad of scientific equipment. I walk past test tubes appearing to bubble with unknown chemicals, as well as a glass room containing what appear to be chemical barrels, on my way to a seat. A sleek, spacious floor plan paired with industrial piping add to the timeless charm of this lab.
My first hypothesis is proven — The Laboratory does seem like a place suitable to conduct actual experiments. Now I just need convincing that their most recent experiment with serving food is a success.
While I debate between the mushroom grilled cheese and the mushroom mac&cheese, my waitress places my iced tea on the table. It comes in a beaker.
Here is the evidence of marriage between food and science I was so desperately hoping for.
I eagerly look further into my menu for more evidence to support my claim. I am disappointed. While there is witty sciencey wording like “Botany” for salads, “Natural Selection” for entrees, “Cofactors” for sides, “Child Prodigies” for the children’s meals, the theme stops with appearances.
I sound like a prude, but if you want to wed two concepts as distinct as science and food, there needs to be some innovations in food science as well as, well, science-science.
The menu is typical and unexciting, and I expected more.
Sipping from my beaker, I change a few variables in my head and am hit with the simplest way to incorporate innovative science into The Laboratory’s menu.
The drinks menu is currently filled with run-of-the-mill fare, but it would be the most obvious place to show off experiments with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Maybe adding something to make the alcoholic drinks catch fire or do something other than being plain alcoholic drinks. For the kiddos, maybe adding Mentos to make the carbonated drinks extra carbonated, with a swirly straw to top off this zany experiment.
Overall, The Laboratory is a fresh concept for a restaurant. But looking past appearances, a more complete marriage of science and food is necessary to make this experiment a lasting one.
Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at entertainment@collegian and on Twitter @sierra_cymes.