It’s always nice to walk into a new establishment that has clearly put a lot of time and effort into everything from the décor to the menu and beyond. This was my feeling as my husband, Mike, and I paid a visit to Compass Cider on the north side of Fort Collins.
To start with, Compass is a beautiful space. Exposed brick combined with varying woods in color and shape are used throughout the large one-room eatery that has a large semi-circular bar serving as its focal point. Above the bar is a huge wooden compass and dangling from the ceiling are these striking three dimensional lights that resemble extra-large flowers.
Also unique is the use of recycled boxcar wood for the tables with rivets in them that mimic star constellations. Simple and contemporary artwork and photos adorn the walls.
My pre-conceived notion of a “cidery” was that, like many breweries, the alcoholic beverage would be the focal point and the food a somewhat distant second. But while cider is definitely the focus here, the food hardly takes a backseat.
Mike and I were extremely impressed with the array of options on both fronts. The descriptions of ciders were all quite complex, from the specific type of fruit used to their original origins and fermentation process. And the food, thanks to Chef Dave Daggett, had much more of a gourmet bent than expected.
With 10 ciders to choose from highlighting fruits from apples to apricots and pears to pineapples, we found the best way to get a taste for what cider is all about was with a sampler tray ($11). Some are dry, some sour and some pretty darn sweet. All were quite tasty.
From a rather eclectic menu, which included items such as Duck Confit in Pastry and Rajas with Roasted Poblanos in Corn Husks, we opted for three items based on our own first impressions and our server’s recommendations.
These included the in-house made Free Range Spiced Chicken Sausage ($12), the Shaved Smoked Ham Panini ($9) and the Naan Topped with Smoked Natural Bacon ($8). All were excellent.
The sausage, to start, was spiced just right. It was not greasy in the least, but simply packed with wonderful flavor. It was served with a soft house naan bread, lightly spiced itself, wild arugula and a dollop of chunky, pear-honey butter, which made for a great accompaniment.
Paninis are one of my favorite food items so I was pleased to find that the version here was absolutely delicious. The focaccia bread used was perfectly crisp and ridged on the outside and filled with a superb combination of smoked ham, aged cheddar cheese, arugula, peach chutney and cider Dijon mustard.
The most unique offering was definitely the Naan with bacon. It came looking like a small pizza and was topped not only with homemade bacon but also roasted red skin potatoes, roasted garlic, arugula and house made ricotta.
It might sound strange, but the creaminess of the ricotta and potatoes paired really well with the salty bacon and slightly bitter greens. Mike and both loved it.
It’s hard to say how well the cider thus far was pairing with our food, but it definitely worked with our dessert, a warm apple tart ($6) with homemade whipped cream. Tender and sweet cinnamon-laced apples enveloped in a soft pastry dough made this dish the perfect ending to a delicious and distinctive meal.
A compass set to this north Fort Collins cidery is a direction worthy of your time.
Shannon Teslow is a Windsor resident who has lived in Windsor with her family since 1995.