Castle Rock’s riverwalk ain’t quite what Pueblo’s is, so don’t venture forth with the same expectations. There is, however, a very cool city park nearby, trail access and a cluster of eateries along Wilcox Street, where luxury apartments bloom up from the first-floor retail spots.
The decor inside Tribe at Riverwalk would make you think you’re in a ski town or among Denver’s fine dining spots. Big, beehive-shaped Edison bulbs suspended from slender aspen tree trunks; animal hides over posh leather couches; furry throw pillows and high-back velvety chairs; a cool mural of an elk overlooking a bright dining room of wood tables painted white to match subway tiles down a long bench seat on one wall; and an unfinished industrial vibe, with pencil measurement marks still on concrete posts from construction. Very chic. Expectedly pricey. But unexpectedly disappointing.
I knew we might be in for trouble at brunch time when a coffee arrives smelling of sweet, nutty flavoring. I dislike flavored coffees, wishing there’d been a warning, like “hey, we use New Mexico Piñon Coffee, we don’t serve plain coffee, you cool with that?” I think it’s a bold move for a spot that does daily breakfast, regardless, and there’s no espresso menu. At least the Bloody Mary, with Hatch green chile vodka, tastes perfectly on-point, awesome with the spice. It’s our one high point to relish. Our order of Morning Donuts arrives, not as donuts, but as dense, beignet- and hushpuppy-like balls, over-fried and smelling like fish oil. Methinks they fried it in the same (old) oil as the Alaskan cod fish ’n chips on the lunch menu. The scant amount of Meyer lemon icing can’t mask it and a side blueberry jam’s also hopeless in a salvage operation. Even the 14-year-old with us won’t eat them.
Next up: smoked salmon a potato “everything” waffle, garnished with chive crème fraîche and salmon roe. A conceptual dish, playing on lox and bagels, ostensibly, but it just doesn’t work as the waffle’s super soggy and fairly bland, missing the spice and seasoning mark of an everything bagel, and the fish doesn’t taste like a quality product; it’s more pungent, fishier than normal. Another conceptual dish that intrigues me on the menu read is goat cheese brûlée, a creamed whip of the tangy cheese, torched with a thin sugar cap and honey-sweetened, and garnished with raw pine nuts plus tiny pineapple chunks. I can kind of see the intention and it’s creative, but the flavors just don’t meld to anything amazing, and the pieces of toast (un-oiled/buttered) served with it are burned black on some edges, faintly grill-marked on half, and near un-toasted on the other end, as if it’s a study in different times on a grill, all in one piece. (Zero attention to detail at cooking or plating to see the obvious issues.)
Lastly: The Southwestern Chicken Club sandwich partly redeems the meal, thanks to quite zesty seasoning that rings closer to Mediterranean to me than Southwestern, even though a black bean spread’s a big assist to the overall flavor, with some sharp red onions. But the chicken pieces are pretty dry, and though I like the paprika flatbread (again, in concept), it falls apart rather rapidly and makes for a messy eat. In contrast to the “donuts,” side fries are on the under-fried side, overly blond but otherwise decent enough. Overall, it’s too many pitfalls for the fine atmosphere, style not delivering on substance.