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Jeffrey's Next Door

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Like the girl next door, Jeffrey's Next Door possesses the same unpretentious charm, although you wouldn't know it from the exterior. In fact, if you're not looking for it, you aren't likely to find it. Sandwiched between a dimly lit bar and a coin-op laundry, Jeffrey's is the surprisingly yummy filling between two slices of stale bread.

After a noon sweat session, my workout buddy and I set out in search of a late lunch. Bordering on hypoglycemia, we inattentively entered the neighboring Broadway Bar and had to grope our way to the back, where--until last week when it was walled in--a swinging push-door acted as a portal to another universe. The darkened pool hall gave way to a bright 10-tabled diner, where background music was made up of Sinatra and big-band tunes.

I knew immediately that chef/owner Joshua Jeffrey shares my philosophy that it's far better to do a few things well than do many things only so-so. Sixty seconds was enough time to thoroughly scour the menu. By then, our affable waitress had already offered us beverages.

My chef salad ($6.50) was rife with slender strips of turkey and ham, a smattering of shredded cheddar, and chopped hard-boiled egg. With sliced cucumber and tomato hugging the rim of the bowl, the ingredient ratio was perfect--each member of the ensemble was well-represented and none were outshone by an aggressive pile of bacon or bleu cheese crumbles. Even my picky request, "Hold the olives, dressing on the side," was remembered.

My pal gripped her teriyaki chicken sandwich ($7) as if it were trying to escape. The pillowy focaccia roll looked homemade, and seared pineapple added both sweetness and tang. The skins were still on her thick-cut fries, most of which I ate. They had emerged from the kitchen still scalding, so she left them unguarded to my vulturistic tendencies as she tackled her sandwich. Our only gripe with the fries was that a few were greasy and too limp (but this didn't stop me from eating them).

On a different visit, my husband and I were greeted by the same waitress and a hand-written sign, advertising several intriguing desserts, including Mountain Dew pound cake ($3.75). I ordered dessert first but asked for it to go (savored later as an afternoon snack, it tasted like something the girl next door would have made: sweet and simple). I was more than satisfied with a generous slab of grilled salmon ($9.50), which arrived leaning against a cylinder of buttery arborio rice. Sauteed summer squash colored the rest of the plate, but left me once again looking longingly at my partner's dish. He chose the pepper jack cheeseburger ($6.50), along with buttermilk onion rings (50 cents extra) that were crisp enough to defy gravity, unlike the fries. I felt lucky to eat most of those, too.

As we hauled our happy bellies out the door, a disembodied voice from the kitchen echoed our waitress's "Thank you!" Maybe Joshua Jeffrey himself? No doubt, the man had delivered on his written promise of "gourmet dining, everyday prices."

--Sarah Barber wanted to be the girl next door but lacked neighbors.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Jeffrey's Next Door.

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