I recently enjoyed brunch at The Modern Hotel and Bar. You’ve probably heard of The Modern because its swanky rooms, friendly patio, and designer cocktails have made it a favorite of people visiting Boise and most national magazines. Now a decade old, it is equal parts hotel and local hangout.
You wouldn’t know it from the ‘Hotel and Bar’ moniker, but The Modern is also an excellent restaurant. The food is locally sourced and the menus are consistently eye-catching. My brunch menu was dotted with truffle oil, naan bread, green tomatoes, and bonito flakes. This isn’t Elmers.
The menu is highly ambitious, but it is also pleasantly minimal. I had a wonderful time eating my way across it.
I was most excited to try the spam musubi special. This dish fuses spam sushi and eggs benedict into one wild creation.
The plating was beautiful, and the fried spam did a pleasant imitation of pork sausage, but issues of temperature and structure compromised my eating experience. You have to cut through the nori with such force that you end up blowing the rice cake to smithereens, and that causes the whole tower to topple. The egg and the sriracha hollandaise were closer to room temperature than I would have liked.
The french toast is nearly as unorthodox, slipping marinated green tomatoes and pimento cheese in between slices of thick brioche. I prefer this rendition to the powdered sugar-choked offerings at most diners, but powerfully zesty cheese before noon is not for the faint of heart.
The Turkish breakfast was my favorite dish. The herb kuku—imagine a frittata made only with bundles of fresh herbs—electrified my palate. The hummus and naan were fun. The pickled vegetables were dreamy. And if I was given a bucket of that lemon-chèvre butter, I could merrily dispatch six or seven miles of baguette.
The vegan biscuits and gravy is a victory for the concept of cashew gravy. The more good vegan meals I eat, the more I start to doubt the importance of dairy, but that’s a discussion for another day.
You could make a nice weekend morning out of coffee and dessert alone. The fry bread, a sweet, dense cornbread placed between maple cream and mixed berries, is a textural change of pace. The doughnut holes in rhubarb-apricot jam are the right amount of sweet.
The Modern’s innovative vision places it in Boise’s culinary upper echelon, and that’s before you take cocktails into account. Before his departure, bartender Michael Bowers was the LeBron James of Boise’s cocktail landscape, collecting almost every available accolade. I don’t know if that excellence has been maintained in his absence, but the legacy is surely there.
Go to The Modern this weekend and order something inventive. It will probably be delicious. And even if it misses the mark, you’ll enjoy the intellectual stimulation. Western omelets are for weekdays. ∎
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