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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Cider House Rules

Compass Cider House recently opened up on North College Avenue, oddly located right across the street from a competing cider bar, Scrumpy’s. Hopefully the location won’t be a problem like when Snarf’s was driven out by Cheba Hut. The cider house seems to be more of a bar than a restaurant, but it does serve a variety of small plates.

My eyes were drawn to the large wooden compass above the bar as I walked in and the wall of windowed garage doors give it a refreshing sense of openness. It feels very laid-back, but upscale at the same time.

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I started the evening with naan topped with smoked bacon, roasted red potatoes and arugula. It had a base of house-made ricotta cheese, turning the dish into a unique pizza. The potatoes made it a bit heavier than I was expecting, but the peppery arugula was a nice touch.

My next appetizer was dukkah, a hearty blend of spices of nuts served with artisan bread. The mysterious mix reminded my palate of Christmas. It was like an Egyptian twist on the Italian staple of bread and olive oil.

For my main course, I had duck confit in a filo pastry purse sitting on a bed of carrot slaw and spinach coulis. The duck was buttery, tender and surprisingly light. Rather than steal the show, the earthy vegetables elevated the duck. The dish was the perfect blend of sweet and savory.

To wash it all down, I had some cider, of course. My cider experiences have been woefully limited to mass-produced bottles, so I opted for their taster tray to expand my horizons.

First off was Meridian. Made on the premises, this is a bubbly and dry cider with a slightly nutty aroma. It’s the textbook example of a classic cider. Next was Divide, Compass’ newest cider created with local Colorado apples and partially aged in oak casks. The soft tannins gave it a white wine quality.

Unfortunately, the first dud of the evening, Nu Course from Blossomwood Cidery in Cedaredge, followed. The drink was my first perry, meaning it’s crafted from pears, and I found it too watery. However, I admit that the issues could simply be personal as I’m not the biggest pear fan.

Another concoction from Compass, La Mesa was next in line. It tasted like sweet and refreshing carbonated pineapple juice. Finally, I had Atropa from Blossomwood. An exact opposite from the cidery’s other option, this was my favorite.

Aged almost a year, the oak and apple flavors are full and rich. I’m taken back to Germany, enjoying a cool glass of Apfelwein on a hot summer’s day.

My only complaint is that my party and I sat on couches, which wasn’t the best setup.Eating was awkward as I hunched over my plate and conversation was difficult due to distance and loud music. I’ll definitely be coming back to try out everything on their varied menu and new ciders, but I’ll make sure to arrive early to get an actual table.

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Collegian Reporter Jefferson Geiger can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com. 

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