The Broadmoor‘s Cafe Julie’s held a presence five years ago where Natural Epicurean now stands, so as the property reintegrates the concept of a bright, French patisserie they also repurpose the name which Adam Thomas, executive pastry chef at The Broadmoor, says is “to bring back Cafe Julie’s again, round two.”
RMFR walks through the fresh space with Thomas, who illustrates what the most recent dining addition offers both guests and visitors alike, and also shares some knowledge for his true passion, beyond trays of laminated dough, but deeper and a tad darker, into the art of chocolate.
As soon as we enter, an elegant cocoa-laden showpiece greets us beside a wicker basket that holds beautiful, golden baguettes but our gaze quickly darts towards the gelato case which “is by design” as it serves as the cafe’s number one attraction. Cafe Julie’s provides 15 flavors total with 10 on display and introduces a new flavor every week.
“Gelato is eye-catching,” says Thomas. “We’re doing true gelato. We’re not selling you ice cream and calling it gelato.”
Thomas explains that the differences between the two are the butter to fat ratios, the speed of churning and the storage temperature which Cafe Julie’s conserves at plus four degrees Fahrenheit.
“When you scrape it into your serving vessel it should start it’s melting process,” says Thomas. “If you’re eating a frozen good and it’s still hard and you’re five minutes away from the shop…it’s been abused. Too much stabilizer, it’s been spun too long. The best part of eating a pint of ice cream on the couch is that melty part on the outside, right? So that’s what gelato should be like.”
Beyond the visual and palatable stimulation is yet another sensory enhancement, as we breathe in the smell of freshly made waffle cones that cradles our frozen treats which Thomas says is “part of the aroma and the experience” as “it really fills the whole lobby with caramelized sugar.”
The L-shaped crystal clear case progresses back into the cafe with sections customized to mediate the temperature based on its contents which includes savory selections, breakfast pastries, a patisserie cabinet and a mesmerizing assortment of chocolate bon bons.
The patisserie cabinet is “the star of the show,” says Thomas, with cupcakes, eclairs, petite gateau and large format cakes, which still depicts European standards.
“These are not giant, Costco grocery store cakes,” explains Thomas. “We’re keeping them true Parisian size. While we know where we are, we want you to have a very particular experience that transports you back to Paris.”
A versatile sampling of quick breads, scones, muffins and small pound cakes satisfies any sweet cravings or tea party contributions while we naturally gravitate towards the savory corner’s rich croissants, quiche and one of our favorites, Catalina Bordeaux, a classic French pastry.
“It’s basically pancake batter that we bake in a copper pan lined with butter and beeswax,” says Thomas. “It essentially fries on the outside and on the inside it’s nice and creamy. It’s very unique.”
A digital menu rotates through La Marzocco coffees and additional beverages above baskets of six different types of bagels that are brought in daily from Wimberger’s Old World Bakery. A plethora of options suited for breakfast, lunch and dinner come in the form of protein packs, acai bowls, sandwiches and salads ready to take on-the-go or to enjoy in the cafe beneath a colorful mural that spreads across the wall complete with a silhouette of Julie Penrose. Cafe Julie’s operates from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. during the week and until 10:00 p.m. on weekends so it is well stocked to meet the needs of any all-day dining restaurant.
“We’re not just a little coffee shop in the lobby,” says Thomas. “We provide quality service, an experience, all those things.”
Cafe Julie’s features The Broadmoor’s own private blend of chocolate from Valhrona, in France, and is “one of the few companies in North America that has that offering.” Their exclusive partnership contributes to their collection of 18 flavors of chocolate bon bons that Thomas says “we’re very proud of.” The brilliant and diverse chocolates are available to take home in leathery, structured packages that holds six, 12 or 18 pieces “each with a story on the back to give a little bit of education on what our chocolate is and why we do it.”
“To go along with the concept of Parisian patisseries we didn’t want to have things put in a Broadmoor box,” says Thomas. “We wanted this to be a true exprerience so everything is branded Cafe Julie’s from the napkins to the coffee cups to the bags.”
A retail section provides samplings of different chocolate bars made with no preservatives that includes the popular Broadmoor 66-percent with cocoa nibs, 45-percent with Rice Krispies and caramelized hazelnut with milk chocolate. Plus, sought-after confections such as cashew brittle, chocolate marshmallows, pate de fruit and black and white sesame nougatine with passionfruit chocolate that draws upon the two and a half years Thomas spent working in Asia.
The sophistication goes beyond the exceptional hospitality that’s executed at The Broadmoor through the introduction of a new “chocolate room” where guests can witness the processes through a gradient window. Part of the cocoa conception includes a new “work horse chocolate machine” that Thomas explains “decrystallizes and recrystallizes chocolate for us with different percentages that create perfectly tempered chocolate.”
“Something nice about dark chocolate is the snap,” says Thomas. “You break it, you crunch on it. If you don’t temper it you don’t get that quality, that integrity. It’s muddy, it’s grainy and essentially it doesn’t taste nice.”
Prior to Cafe Julie’s opening in mid-May 2018, Thomas says their chocolate program was relegated to a small room, a fifth of the size within the South tower, where they utilized another method of tempering; by heating up the chocolate and pouring it out onto granite to cool it down as fast as possible thus creating the desired crystallized effect.
We sample the Broadmoor 66-percent and hold it right up to our ear, break it and notice that through the sound of division, the chocolate at Cafe Julie’s manages to capture yet another one of our senses. Thomas brings out a tray of blueberry-rosemary chocolates which manifests sweet, tart and savory notes all in one blissful bite and follows up with a more childlike treat with cocoa cereal wrapped in white chocolate and vanilla “so when you eat it, it tastes like you’re drinking cereal milk.”
In addition to the commitment to making chocolates for Cafe Julie’s the chocolate room also serves as “a commissary wholesaler” for the entire property and is responsible for all the chocolate garnishes and desserts.
We watch in wonder as Erica Wetzel, assistant chocolatier, cuts The Broadmoor’s signature salted caramels and we ponder the extent of what chocolate-making demands and also what it gives back through the opportunistic window which now allows patrons to see each intentional step.
“I’ve been studying chocolate for a long time,” says Thomas. “Everywhere I go is some kind of chocolate study. I feel the more I get into it the more I feel further away from it. There’s so much to know about it. There’s just a whole world out there and I’m happy that our guests can experience it at this level, I truly am. We’re doing everything we can to educate them and we welcome people to come back and talk to us.”
Cafe Julie’s still honors the locality of Colorado Springs while it also dazzles as the closest thing to a traditional French patisserie without boarding an international flight. Thomas says their hope is to emulate Paris with “what’s going on, what’s new, what’re their trends, what’re their shop designs, what’re their offerings and every year it changes because they’re the leaders in the industry.”
“We wanted to do something we were inspired by,” says Thomas. “We want to make sure we’re putting out a good product and take care of the guests. We’re trying to elevate the experience…It’s special is what it is. It’s not mine, it’s not ours and we are very grateful.”
*Header image features Erica Wetzel, assistant chocolatier at Cafe Julie’s, courtesy of COSprings Foodies