Chef Jered Couch's voice was barely audible over the deep, rattling whurr of an electric saw and the punctuated cachunks of a nail gun.
"We didn't tear down the ceilings or anything, it's still the same space," shouted Couch, gesturing around the former Milky Way building at 205 N. 10th St. that is rapidly morphing into The Dish. "But yet it's got a lot of different elements ... a lot of natural wood, real cool design stuff on the ceiling, all new flooring, we're putting in all new, big, real colorful, fun booths."
Couch was formerly the chef/owner of Sixonesix, which closed in December of 2008, and ran a previous incarnation of The Dish on State Street from 2002 to 2005.
For this concept, Couch has partnered with Willowcreek Grill and RAW Sushi owner Brian McGill to create globally influenced fare with comfort food foundations.
"It's just a totally different menu and a different style and it's something that Boise really needs," said McGill. "There's a lot of people that do burgers and salads and steak, and then what Jered's created is something that nobody has."
Menu items include roasted cauliflower salad with poblano pepper marmalade and tempura croutons, beet homefries with Japanese mayo and seven spice, pork belly lettuce cups, shrimp cocktail with horseradish panna cotta and harissa-spiked lamb fajitas.
"Then we're doing stuff like chicken wings, but taking it to a new level," said Couch. "It's chicken wings that are glazed with soy and mirin and sake, but before that they're brined, smoked and confited in duck fat."
The Dish will also offer a variety of price points to appeal to a broader market.
"They can spend $12 here and get a great meal or they can go all out and spend $28 on an entree," said Couch.
Though the restaurant won't serve liquor, it will offer 60 wines, eight beers on tap, four sodas from BuckSnort, Morning Glory tea and ground-to-order French press coffee from Dawson Taylor. It will also boast an expanded patio with seating for 40-50 people and doors that slide open to create a breezeway.
"The city's taken all the parking that's been right in front of this space and extended the sidewalk out; it's all new sidewalk, which made our patio wider," said Couch.
As for how Couch and McGill plan to overcome the curse of the former Milky Way location, which was briefly converted into the island-themed Sweetwater's Tropic Zone before becoming sports bar The Huddle, Couch says it's all about sticking the landing.
"When people walked in here with these last two restaurants, yeah, it was the old Milky Way space and it's kind of like you saw remnants of it," said Couch. "But when people walk in this space, people will say, 'Wow, this is The Dish now.'"
The Dish plans to open for lunch Wednesday, July 17. It will be open serving lunch and dinner Monday, July 22. For more info, visit facebook.com/thedishboise.
Moving from dishes to drinks, Woodland Empire Ale Craft recently signed a lease at 1114 W. Front St.
"We got the lease signed and we're getting all the construction documents done right now," said Woodland Empire's Rob Landerman. "We'll be getting the building permits and stuff submitted in the next couple of weeks."
The brewery, which plans to seek organic certification from the USDA, was hoping to open in the former Foxtrot space in the Linen District, but the deal fell through. The new building on Front Street shares a wall with Bogies.
"It's approximately 9,000 square feet, so we'll have about 7,000 square feet of brewery space and 2,000 square feet of tasting room and office space," said Landerman. "We'll have seating for upwards of, close to 65 people."
Landerman and his wife, Keely, plan to give the tasting room a warm, vintage vibe as opposed to the industrial ambiance that's common at other local breweries.
"We actually just got a cool, old, low-profile couch from Broadway Vintage," said Landerman. "It'll be a lot of plants, and we're working with Beau Van Greener, he's going to do some mural work on the outside of the building for us."
In addition to a tasting room, the brewery space will boast a temperature-controlled room for bottle conditioning, where they will craft four specialty cork-and-cage releases a year. Woodland Empire plans to open in early November and release its first specialty 750-milliliter bottle before New Year's Eve.
"It's not exactly a biere de champagne because we're not going to be doing the champagne method, but it's similar in texture and flavor and drinkability," said Landerman. "It'll be like an 11-11.5 percent saison, essentially, that we're going to finish with champagne yeast and then bottle condition."
For updates on Woodland Empire, visit facebook.com/woodlandempire.ale.craft.
In other nearby brews news, Cycle Pub owner Mike Thomas has partnered with Doug Winter and Justin Flynn to open the Prefunk Beer Bar and Growler Fill Station in the former La Cantina Sociale space at 1100 Front St.
"The concept for the Growler Fill Station is that you're able to take home fresh draft beer--that you can't get in a can or a bottle without going to a bar--and take it with you to go home and drink," said Thomas.
Prefunk will feature an assortment of local and regional taps.
"Every brewery in the Valley will have a tap with us all the time," said Thomas. "So we'll have 20 taps, 10 will be the local breweries and 10 will be regional or specialty of some sort."
Though Prefunk is still under construction, Thomas says it will boast an "industrial feel" with corrugated steel and concrete countertops.
"You will have the opportunity, absolutely, to come hang out, sip beers, do tastings and whatnot, but the idea is grab-and-go," said Thomas.
Prefunk is also developing a high-tech aid for its grab-and-go program.
"We're working on an application right now for smartphones where you can put in your choice of growler fill, your estimated time of arrival, and we'll fill your order for you and have it waiting. ... We'll watch for you and we'll run your beer out to your car," said Thomas.
Thomas says Prefunk hopes to open Thursday, Aug. 1, but it might be Thursday, Aug. 15.