Category Archives: Boise Eats

‘Petite 4’ Stands Tall On Boise’s Elite Restaurant Short List

When I found out that Bleubird was closing I could barely leave my house. The sudden evaporation of the city’s finest sandwich shop felt like a nightmare. Bleubird’s brilliant sandwiches, inventive side salads and herbaceous fruit sodas were so beloved that a line often curled out the door and down the block on Friday afternoons.

At the nadir of my emotional crisis, I was saved by astounding, thrilling news. Sarah and David Kelly, the power couple behind Bleubird’s massive success, were opening a new restaurant on Boise’s bench. Cleverly dubbed ‘Petite 4’ (a nod to its diminutive size and location at 4 N Latah St.), the Kelly’s new venture would serve French food in an ‘upscale casual’ environment. I made reservations as soon as possible.

My girlfriend and I visited Petite 4 on a Saturday evening at 7:30 pm. Reservations are mandatory unless you plan on fighting for space at the bar. Petite 4 has inherited much of its stylistic vision from Bleubird, but the execution is closer to impeccable. A striking kitchen forms the heart of the restaurant, and every member of the staff looks dapper in a pinstriped apron.

IMG_4765
Dave Kelly’s sodas border on artwork. His newest creation combines turmeric, ginger, mint, and apple cider vinegar to produce something with the crisp bite of ginger ale and the earthy, acidic tones of Kombucha. It’s called ‘The Cure’ and you must order it.

My girlfriend, blessed to be born in 1997, turned to the wine list. I, a cursed child of 1998, examined the sodas. We asked the waitress for guidance, and she said that most people order one starter, one vegetable, and two entrees. Expecting small, fine dining sized portions, I ordered those four dishes and a cheese plate. Little did I know, the entrees here are roughly the size of a family sedan. When you consider the vastness of some of these meals, the prices are closer to a brewery than a steakhouse.

IMG_4761
The menu is laid out simply. On the front: soup, salad and sandwiches, starches, vegetables, meat, seafood. On the back: cheese and charcuterie. On a separate card: today’s specials, including oysters and dessert.

If I had it to do over, I would order one starter, two vegetables, and split an entrée. That way, I would have had room for dessert.

Here is what we ate: Continue reading ‘Petite 4’ Stands Tall On Boise’s Elite Restaurant Short List

The Taco the Town

We are wrapping up taco and burrito week (get it?). I kicked off this week with a rundown of downtown Boise’s sorry burrito situation. But you may recall that the taco situation was better…

…much, much better.

This week I sampled the fare at two of Boise’s hot new taco spots. Calle 75 and The Funky Taco have strikingly similar stories: beloved food truck turned brick and mortar establishment. Both are focused on honoring their street food past and creating eyebrow-raising taco innovations. Their culinary goals are so similar that I’m surprised they opened just a few blocks apart. They will have to pull from the same taco loving demographic; I hope the population is large enough for both to flourish.    

Because these are good tacos.

But I’m not here to hand out participation awards. Here at Eating With Henry we pursue excellence and we choose winners. So where do you go when you have $11.73 in your pocket (remember, these are upscale) and a hankering for tacos?

My answer is provided in 6 distinct categories: Continue reading The Taco the Town

Does Downtown Boise Have a Burrito Problem?

Downtown Boise might have a burrito problem. This problem has lingered on my mind since Pollo Rey—a reliable, if unspectacular, supplier of burritos—shut its doors last year.

There are plenty of impressive burritos across the treasure valley, but our thriving city center seems bereft of truly legitimate burritos—the type you can grab with two hands and attack.

Now it is possible that you are laughing at me because four new tacos places have arrived in downtown Boise in the past month. But one of those taco places, the still under renovation Diablo and Sons, is primarily a bar…

…and more importantly, tacos are not burritos. This should be clear to everyone. There are some slimy lawyer types out there who will argue that burritos and tacos are the same thing, and exist together on a ‘meat in tortilla’ continuum. Do not listen to those half-wits. They probably think hot dogs are sandwiches.

A burrito is an entirely different animal, closed on at least one end, hefty, brimming with beans. I am skeptical that, even amid our urban taco revolution, we are really offering solutions for urban burrito lovers. They have needs too.

But my complaints are anecdotal, and I am a man of substance. It’s time to get nitty-gritty. Continue reading Does Downtown Boise Have a Burrito Problem?

Pit Stop: Meraki’s Zeus Fries

Meraki is a fascinating greek restaurant that probably warrants its own review — maybe even its own podcast. Just to give you an idea, they put french fries in their gyros. Better yet, they serve pork gyros instead the standard beef and lamb mix. This is because pork is in fact the traditional greek meat. (You can still order beef and lamb, but they tell me that such stylings originated not in Greece but Chicago, and may soon be discontinued).

But my visit to Meraki was all about the Zeus Fries. Yep, that’s right. French fries, seasoned gyro meat, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce — drizzled with a side of spicy feta.

IMG_3070

Even your cardiologist wants a plate of these to himself.

 

Pit Stop: Hyde House’s Turkey Bahn Mi

The Turkey Bahn Mi at Hyde House might be my favorite sandwich in Boise right now. It’s a brilliant creation that I have eaten twice in the last month. It’s on the pricey side as sandwiches go ($12) but I’ve been able to justify it to myself, mostly because the lime mayo makes me so happy.

Everyone knows that the success of a sandwich relies on it’s bread. Hyde House hits it out of the park here: their baguette is simultaneously light, soft and crunchy. Amen.

The turkey is equally well executed, with thick slices that really transcend the ordinary deli meat experience.

The pickled red onion is, as always, magic. (Most amazing bites of food I eat involve a sweet or acidic onion.) The jalapeño relish delivers a strong performance and adds much needed heat. And the lime-spiked mayo… shall I compare thee to a summer day?

I recommend making your way to Hyde House soon, just in case this delightful item is tragically removed from their seasonal menu. I always get their iceberg laden house salad on the side, but the choice of side is, as ever, a personal matter.

 

We Need to Talk About Campos

If tomorrow the front page of the paper reads “secret cult of carnitas wizardry uncovered in local mexican market” or “Boise food authorities confounded by the perfect Al Pastor” or even “Barack Obama initiates CIA investigation of conspicuously delicious asada”, I would barely blink. In fact, I’d probably be relieved.

At least then I could explain what the hell is happening in Campos Market.

Last week I made the trip to the market’s hallowed ground, hidden inconspicuously on Orchard Street in a remodeled bar. Though the sign still boasts a crescent moon and a martini, the interior has been transformed into a joyful marketplace. The pinatas overhead and the mariachi music on the air make the aisles of tortillas, tomatillos, and gummy candy all the more enticing.

ls.jpg

In the back, there is a handful of wooden booths and a small kitchen. The menu is intuitive — on one side, a list of meats; on the other side, the possible enclosures for that meat. I was eating lunch with my girlfriend, and we ordered six tacos, two enchiladas, and the all-important pineapple Jarritos.

Moments later we were greeted with two massive platters of Mexican food. The asada tacos were the logical starting point for our hungry rampage.

We took a bite, then stared at each other. Dead-eyed.

Perhaps it was only carne asada, cilantro, and onions on a corn tortilla. Perhaps it was only a taco, purchased for $1.25.

And yet, we were experiencing something beyond meat. Something too perfectly greasy and seasoned to have emerged from the stacks of marbled flesh in the deli case beside us. We chewed with gluttonous delight.

“This is my favorite restaurant,” my girlfriend categorically announced.

We took another bite.

“I’m not kidding. This is my favorite restaurant.”

We added some house salsa.

“Hoooooo my god. What do they do to their meat?”

My ability for articulation had vanished with the Asada, so I merely dove with enthusiasm into the enchiladas.

This moment typified Campos for two reasons.

  1. The first is that Campos is very, very good. And good in a specific way. It is a simple and deliciously sautéed experience. It does not feign the more prim and proper trappings of an upscale taco, nor does it approach the gummy self-hatred of Taco Bell. Yes, the salsa is tasty. Yes, the beans are delightful. But this is a meal that starts and ends with the meat. It hits you in two waves — the first wave of, wow, yum, meat — and then the second wave of, WTF THIS TASTES YUMMIER THAN I WAS PREPARED FOR AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY.
  2. This of course leads us to the second part, the part where, attempting to cope with the greatness of your tacos, you ask :“What do they do?!?” The flavors are almost a little too gratifying, especially when paired with a well timed splash of jarritos.

My personal theory is the the grill has been seasoned by years and years of good cooking. I imagine that when this griddle meets some well crafted Al Pastor, a love affair worthy of The Bachelor takes place right then and there.

But the funny thing about Campos is, as much as you might wonder, and speculate, you don’t really want to know. Peering back into that kitchen would be like ripping the curtain off of Oz.

As a man of subtlety, I am not prone to declarative statements, but I will throw aside my more political instincts to make one unabashed claim:

Campos Market makes the best taco in Boise. And it is altogether possible that their dominance extends across the state of Idaho.

A statement such as that necessitates the full five stars.

5 STARS