Fine dining is an acquired taste. It is similar to a taste for fine wine. A $4 bottle out of the bargain bin will get you just as sloshed as a $50 special vintage, but the delicate tastes and intricacies would be lost on those of lesser refined palates. I'm not saying my palate is more refined than others, but I have had my fair share of dining experiences at restaurants that consider themselves fine.
It can be difficult for "fine" dining establishments in Boise. While Boise has a strong dining culture, and while the critical mass of those who appreciate "fine" dining is growing, there is still a learning curve for many who want to appreciate it.
What I've learned about fine dining over the years is that it is naturally more expensive, but in return you have an experience, not just a meal. Higher quality ingredients, exquisite and individualized service, and food of such exquisite tastes are all defining characteristics. I must say Andrae's, a chef run restaurant, is the epitome of fine dining.
Amusés of a delicately fried rock shrimp followed by an Oregon oyster and a glass of fine Champagne greeted us before our menus. Choosing between a three-course prix fixe menu, the seasonal chef's tasting course or individual appetizers and entrées was challenging, but do-able. My lady went with a mixed salad with green, cherry and grape tomatoes decorating the plate along with sliced infant beets and organic greens. She raved. I enjoyed the carpaccio yellowfin tuna as a starter. OK, so you might want to call this yellowfin sashimi, but it was delicately sliced, laid across a tantalizing olive oil and lightly sprinkled with rock salt ... unlike any sashimi I've had, and perhaps better.
Our entrées consisted of a fillet of lupe de mer (a Mediterranean fish) for her and a New Zealand rack of lamb for moi, both exquisitely prepared and some of the best dishes we've had in Boise. After struggling with my knife and fork, however, my lady granted me permission to pick up the lamb riblets and nibble the delectable bones, salvaging every last scrap of the perfectly cooked meat liberally doused with a port wine reduction sauce. It was perhaps a little uncouth for a restaurant of this caliber, but I just had to get it all, it was that good. A modest but rich wine selection with the knowledge to back it up, provided just the right compliment to our meal.
To enjoy Andrae's right, I'd suggest carving out a block of time. You shouldn't rush this experience. Boise has few fine dining establishments, but Andrae's is as fine as any I've experienced, even in bigger cities.
-Bingo Barnes is currently creating his own village, town and city.