May 14, 2021 | OPINION | By Hank Bedingfield | Photo by Eric Ingram
Eating out is life or death. Restaurants are being choked off by an indefinite pandemic, and palates across the country are growing bored and restless. A night out is the only cure. In the face of a tasteless fatigue, it’s time to push back. I’ll ramble around the Springs and find which restaurants are worth the risk and which aren’t. Dining in or taking out, I’ll be hungry, and I’ll write about it.
Colonel Mustard’s Sandwich Emporium
1412 S. 21st St., Colorado Springs, Colo.
Breakfast and Lunch
8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Tuesday – Sunday)
Dine-in and Curbside Pickup
Colonel Mustard’s isn’t your mother’s local deli, but maybe it should be.
Colonel Mustard’s Sandwich Emporium is a bizarre thought experiment that you thought could never translate to reality without some violent fracturing of the dream-world real-world barrier. This shop dances on the edge of love and obsession in a deeply satisfying and highly salivating confluence.
One thing to get out of the way: Mustard-haters stay away. Colonel Mustard’s sells over a hundred unique, specialty mustards sourced from nearly every corner of the mustard-loving globe. The shop itself is a strange, yet devout, shrine to the condiment. But don’t get freaked out by the sheer fanaticism on display. Free your mind and open up a little.
In an unassuming strip mall, painfully characteristic of Colorado Springs, lies a mustard mecca and one of the better sandwich shops the region has to offer. Polished cement floors, a beautiful aluminum counter, a couple chairs and tables and cheery yellow walls make the spacy cozy and inviting. Walls are literally lined with mustard and other jarred delicacies. Through the back door there is a beer garden-esce space in the back with stunning, sunny mountain views.
The store is owned by a former Colorado College employee and her husband who spare nothing by way of customer service. Walk in and you might as well be a distant cousin or long-lost friend. You feel like a house guest.
I ordered my sandwich from their extensive and busy menu — full of over a dozen specialty sandwiches (breakfast and lunch), salads, and sides — and was bombarded with delicious samples I hadn’t asked for. The mustard ice cream — read that again — stands out. I was ready to force a polite smile, wave the hosts away, and beat back a bout with nausea, but the ice cream is surprising. In a weird subversive spar between expectation and reality, the ice cream is actually likable, maybe even good. On principle I think this is an undeniable perversion and patrons of such a culinary bastardization should be thoroughly interrogated, but the food (?) itself isn’t half bad. The savory, mustardy flavor mellows nicely as a subtle backdrop to the familiar creamy treat. Try it, really.
From there, there seems to be an obligatory mustard tasting where tiny paper cups are put forth to be met with pretzels and their doom in hungry mouths. The maple mustard from Ontario, Canada, is delicious.
The sandwiches, from an intimidating menu are inventive, yet intuitively tasty. The “P.A.B.S.T.” a hot creation of provolone, avocado, bacon, The Colonel’s Special Sauce, and tomato on a sourdough roll, is a delicious success, nearly as beautiful as its namesake worshipped by the jolly and pot-bellied. The sauce borders inundating and can flood the sandwich if you aren’t careful. Grasp your napkin and prepare.
The Royal Round, a breakfast favorite of eggs, cheese, sausage, and veggies, delivers oozy satisfaction reminiscent of early mornings beating concrete in New York City. The ciabatta roll steals the show, however. Ingredients matter here and whatever isn’t premium Boar’s Head is local to Colorado.
The victory of Colonel Mustard’s aren’t even the sandwiches. The mustard potato salad, as eerie and disconcerting as the ice cream, is ingenious. The first bite is curious. What is this? The flavor combination is foreign and without comparison. A couple more bites and the creamy, grainy, potato emulsion is addictive. Stop if you can but don’t be surprised if a couple forkfuls turns into an empty tub before you.
Colonel Mustard’s Sandwich Emporium is the brainchild of passion and madness. The sandwiches are delicious and the extras are better. Learn to love mustard in ways you never thought you would. The Colonel will blow your mind and replace it with mustard-drenched, empty-headed dreaming. Go hungry and eat up.