Where the Bus Stopped
Boiler Monkey Bistro
When the Boiler Monkey first rolled onto the food scene a few years back, it made quite an impression. First of all, it was in mobile kitchen form, housed inside a 1977 school bus retrofitted with brass fixtures, wood siding and a steampunk aesthetic that would make Jules Verne giddy. Second, the crêpes served from the bus were spectacular and a welcome addition to both the food truck community and the local breweries where Boiler Monkey often parked.
Eventually, though, the Boiler Monkey lost its wheels. The fact is that running a food truck is already hard work and, according to the gentleman manning the Boiler Monkey Bistro’s counter last week, recent city regulations mandating a 100-foot buffer between food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants has made it more difficult than ever. So the Monkey sold off its bus and is instead investing time and energy into a brick-and-mortar shop of its own.
The Monkey now resides in a charming house off of Mountain and Eighth Street. It’s a tiny space, so it’s best to come on warmer days when the inviting patio is available. Sitting at one of the tables overlooking the curve of Mountain and the quaint shops nearby feels a bit like taking in the air in some European village, a world away from our sunburnt land.
Coffee is in abundance here in the usual espresso bar combinations. The beans come from Prosum Roasters, a local, woman-run outfit that gets their product from family farms across the world. I don’t know that I could taste it, but I do appreciate this attention to the ethics of local business support and global sustainability.
Eventually, though, the Boiler Monkey lost its wheels. The fact is that running a food truck is already hard work and recent city regulations mandating a 100-foot buffer between food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants has made it more difficult than ever.
Obviously, though, the crêpes are what this place is all about. Other than pie and a few also-rans like a bagel and cream cheese and a muffin, everything on the normal menu comes wrapped in a crêpe. Even those who can’t handle wheat flour don’t have to miss out as there is a gluten-free batter available.
The crêpes are as thin and light and just cohesive enough to encase their contents. If you’re feeling a need for sweetness, the Nutella and strawberry (or banana, or both) will scratch that itch in a deliciously smooth chocolatey, hazelnutty, fruity manner that will make you reach for a refill on your coffee and then lapse into a contented delirium.
For savory meals, the burrito crêpe is, well, a breakfast burrito in a crêpe instead of a tortilla. It’s good, it’s fine, there’s potato, egg and cheese and the chile was fresh roasted and kick-y. It gets the job done, in other words. But take my advice and opt for the showier Albuquerque turkey instead. It has—wait for it—turkey and avocado and tomato and mustard all of which just meld with the doughiness of the crepe. Oh, and chile, too, because I think that’s the “Albuquerque” part of these things. The whole thing is warm and gooey and the tomato and avocado give it touches of tanginess and richness.
Or hey, why not, try the farm crêpe while you’re at it. This one’s made up of sauteéd greens and pungent feta cheese with mushrooms. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction over the top makes it a zingy, fresh-tasting treat.
Afterwards, assuming you didn’t pick the Nutella crêpe, you might be up for some dessert. Boiler Monkey always has some fresh baked pies on hand, the variety of which varies by the day. When I was there, I tried a pumpkin pie with butter crumble on top. Pretty sweet—maybe a bit too sweet for my taste (I prefer the earthy flavor of pumpkin to push through the sugar), but again, it went very nicely with the latte I ordered. I’d be up for trying a few more of the pies before passing a blanket opinion on them.
And then it was time to linger a little longer on the patio, watch the Mountain traffic amble by and be happy that this bus finally reached its destination.
Hours: 7am to 2pm, Tuesday through Sunday
Vibe: More bistro than monkey
Extras: Fresh air
Booze: The Monkey is sober
The Alibi recommends: Albuquerque turkey crêpe and the farm crêpe