Olde Town Arvada is a really great place to hang out, walk around, check out the cool shops, and maybe grab a pint at the Arvada Beer Company. While you are in the neighborhood, you may want to investigate newly redone Archive Room, literally across the street from Arvada Beer Co. If you have been there even as recently as six months ago, maybe check it out again. Previously, the Archive Room was a pretty standard sports bar: way too many TVs, mediocre food, and cheap beer. Perhaps it was comfortable and familiar, but it didn’t stand out in any way. New management and a new executive chef have completely redone the physical space and the entire menu. The new incarnation is dedicated to excellent food, lovely booze, and stellar service.
The first thing that is apparent when you enter is the classy and warm atmosphere. The waiting area has black chairs that look downright comfy. In the dining room, tastefully colorful walls and large windows look out onto the streets of Olde Town and are all part of building a welcoming environment. In my short visit, I saw large groups, some (well-behaved) babies, a date, and the staff tells me that ladies will even sit at the bar by themselves and read. All of these things fit in here and I love it.
The other major component of the revamp was an entirely new menu. When Executive Chef Aaron Youngblood joined The Archive Room this past winter, he and the also new manager Shelly Waters decided that change was in the air. Out went the run-of-the-mill bar food in order to create something more out of the box. In an area abundant with chain restaurants, the team decided to put out a menu that changed with the seasons and was as local as possible. They source chicken from two local farms, the balsamic vinegar comes from an oil shop just down the road, and they frequent area farmer’s markets. These guys are so dedicated to the farm-to-table concept that they have space at a community garden and are growing their own tomatoes and herbs.
Another big change was to their beer and liquor selection. Manager Shelly took the macro brews off tap (don’t be scared; they have still have the big guys in bottles) and replaced them with a healthy craft beer list. Of particular note is their 8th handle, which will rotate between local Arvada breweries, such as Yak and Yeti and Arvada Beer Co (doesn’t get more local than across the street). The house cocktails we had were pretty delicious too, though not quite the par of dedicated cocktail bars. The cocktails my date and I had were clearly made with high quality ingredients, but occasionally heavy handed on one component (cucumber in my date’s, house-infused lavender simple syrup in mine… but, I have a hard time complaining about that).
Everything plays out beautifully on the plate. On my recent visit, I was lucky enough to try a wide variety of their current menu. First up was the Caprese salad, which was made of heirloom tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, and the local balsamic vinegar. Fresh, clean, and so simply delicious. Our second course was the Archive Tacos, served with lightly breaded and fried clams, tortillas, and 3 different garnishes. Do you know how fun it is to put together your own tasty tacos at your plate? I probably enjoyed myself too much, to be honest. Next was a special that is a possible entry on their summer menu: watermelon, raspberry, and cucumbers in a lightly herbal oil served with greens. Here’s to hoping that this makes the cut, as I was totally in love with the herb-y/fruit combination. It was refreshing and light, but still satisfying. Our entree was the duck confit ravioli, served open-style, with house-made noodles, duck jus, and three different types of mushrooms. This dish was amazing- I loved the home made noodles, and the super savory duck jus, and I’m always a super sucker for duck confit of any sort.
I heard that there was some community resistance to their remodel, so I checked out their Yelp page. It appears that most of the resistance is from people missing their cheap staple bar in the heart of Olde Town. While I can sympathize in losing a bar that feels like home, I would hope that the Olde Town community can open their hearts to a more upscale, but still welcoming neighborhood restaurant experience, especially when the food is this good. They have an excellent experience just waiting for you.