Breakfast + Lunch = Andrae's
Brunch has gone five-star at Andrae's. However, with the emphasis on food and not your morning attire, think of it as fine dining in your comfy clothes. And as far as this brunch lover is concerned, it couldn't have come at a better time. Several brunch buffet institutions have been on the steady decline for years, upping the prices for what amounts to little more than the weekend's recycled leftovers, and few menu-based brunch places simply don't have the game to deliver the goods consistently and without several hours' wait.
Owner and executive chef Andrae Bopp says his new brunch menu features typical brunch fare, but with some twists just to keep things interesting. Highly nutritious farro is sweetened up with brown sugar, honey and cream for a dish that is ever-so-slightly reminiscent of oatmeal. On a more savory note is frisee aux lardon, essentially endive with bacon. Brioche French toast goes local with huckleberry syrup. And expect egg dishes, fresh orange juice, Thomas Hammer coffee and brunch cocktails.
Reservations recommended, children welcome. 816 W. Bannock St., 208-385-0707.
Ono, Take II
In last week's Food News, I gleefully announced the forthcoming opening of ONO Hawaiian Cafe with an enthusiasm almost entirely rooted in nostalgia. After attending last week's partial menu tasting at ONO, however, it's necessary that I augment my last ode to Hawaiian cuisine with some heavy-handed praise for owner chef Michael Mohica.
Mohica's catering company, Kanak Attack, is perhaps best known for consistently gathering the largest crowds at almost every city event where his catering truck—usually surrounded by tiki torches and colorful leis blowing in the Boise summer breeze—is found. Boiseans line up for Mohica's Kalua pig, coconut rice, teriyaki chicken, sweet-and-sour meatballs and Hawaiian-style mac salad like it's the only time they'll get their fix all year. When Mohica, who is a Boise State culinary graduate and a nearly decade-long Boise resident, announced plans to open a Hawaiian cafe on Broadway, I had visions of Kanak Attack fare simply translated into a more permanent restaurant setting. Although Mohica says there will be plenty of island grinds—like musubi, manapua and saimin—the menu is definitely more upscale than your typical plate lunch.
What ONO does is what Mohica calls Hawaiian fusion. The plates emerging from his kitchen are fresh and elegant examples of what happens to simple island food when it's put in the vice grip of a culinary education. Poke, maui onions, ogo, macadamia nuts and ginger welded together and sliced pie-shaped make a crunchy and spry sans-lettuce salad. Mohica dispenses with the shrimp and, instead, offers up skewered coconut lobster tails. The tangerine fire sauce accompanying a handful of crab rangoon is what a sunset might taste like; it's translucent orange, silky and sweet, but with an intense heat on the finish. Orchids purple up the plates; homemade sauces come in as many flavors as there are dishes; and ingredients are fresh from the islands when need be. Truly, Mohica's exotic, island-themed cuisine is busting with flavor, and ONO will be the envy of Boise's other tropical-themed restaurant that can't seem to get beyond fish tacos and mango salsa.
Ultimately, says Mohica, "We want people coming here for vacation." Aside from bringing the flavors of home to his restaurant in Boise, he's bringing a bit of aloha spirit as well. ONO's waitstaff will wear orchids behind their ears, leis around their necks and every Friday is Aloha Friday (bust out your aloha shirts for a weekly pau hana with hula dancers and Hawaiian music). ONO opens for business Sat., Dec. 15, with a grand opening Jan. 11-13.
ONO Hawaiian Cafe, 2170 Broadway Ave., 208-429-6800.