I leave very little room for surprise in my vision of a Kuna steakhouse. I expect a meat-and-potatoes-menu, reasonable prices and down-to-earth service. Situated away from the town's center, along Indian Creek in one of Kuna's newer structures, Peregrine Steaks and Spirits stays within the confines of what I expected.
For those who live in the rural southern Ada County town, Peregrine seems a likely suspect for "a good dinner." The separate bar area is reminiscent of Boise's Owyhee Lounge: rolling chairs, large dance floor, a tinge of class that outweighs distinctive bar attitude. The dining room is appropriately awkward--a large and airy space devoid of privacy--but a good deal of attention has gone into achieving a tasteful look. A paneled, free-standing dividing screen and large fake trees break up the monotony, while mirrors draped with fake flower garlands cover the walls. The bare tables each host a spray of artificial silk flowers and the patio, overlooking the rural scene, has a certain appeal.
As quaintly tasteful as Peregrine and its conjoined Creekside Lounge may be, neither have built a reputation as a destination among Boise-based diners. Without a bar to dance on or a party bus for shuttling clientele, Peregrine's only hope of increasing its pool of potential customers is a damn good meal.
Unfortunately Peregrine has plenty of room for improvement. The salad course would be a good place to start. The pale, rust-streaked iceberg did not make the best foundation, but it only got worse from there. I set aside my tomatoes after one unpleasant bite suggested they were a little past due. Same with the slightly shriveled cucumbers.
A mini loaf of bread served with salad, however, tipped the scales back to even. With a middle section of lightly brown wheat bread cooked between two sections of soft white bread, the loaf proved to be a high point of the meal. A friend used to say that good bread--even bread made out-of-house--indicated an attention to detail that would inevitably result in a decent meal. I take issue with parts of that theory, but in Peregrine's case, it led me to this conclusion: Somebody in the kitchen knows what they're doing, but somewhere the execution of that vision is falling short.
My simple steak entree ($14.95) and my dining companion's fingersteaks ($7.95) delivered the same counterbalancing effect. Delivered on a hot skillet embedded in a wood plate, the sirloin, baker and scattered corn and bell pepper medley earned an F in the presentation department. And while I'm a firm believer that a good-looking meal is essential, it's also the most easily excusable offense. A grossly overcooked steak, however, is not. When medium rare arrives as thoroughly well done, either the server summarily disregarded my preference or the broiler cook needs a thermometer. My guess is the latter. The overcooked corn medley didn't help the kitchen's case, but I will say at least I didn't end up with the pile of plain baby carrots I saw on another diner's plate.
Countering my steak and veggies was first, my baked potato and second, the fingersteaks. If an entire meal's success could be hung on a potato, Peregrine would have fared well. But that's a lot of pressure for a tuber. Good fingersteaks are another matter. Aside from one gristly piece in the sizable pile, the fingersteaks were tender, the batter committed and the flavor not at all oily.
By the time the minimally damaging bill arrived, I was neither persuaded nor dissuaded from another trip to Peregrine. I'd need more incentive to feel good about recommending it to a Boise-based friend, but then again, maybe Kuna's "good dinner" destination is fine without all the picky city slickers.
--Rachael Daigle is neither slick nor picky.Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Peregrine Steaks & Spirits.