The bar at Angell's is a good place to hide out. Flickering electric candles cast a soft glow on the groomed and perfumed bodies sipping cocktails in the sunken space. Though you can still see the tops of cars through the wrap-around windows as they zip down Ninth Street, something about the spot feels hidden, even slightly forgotten.
On a recent weekday evening, I sat at the bar and took in the "regal safari" flourishes at this recently revamped downtown fine-dining staple. Decorative brass elephants wrap their trunks assertively around the bar's ledge as curved wicker fans twirl overhead. Though one might expect to see khaki-clad British hunters spilling out of tiger print booths, the space is instead filled with an assortment of middle-aged urbanites.
After a short wait, my mom and I were led through the packed restaurant and past a cluster of giant bamboo sculptures to a booth. Looking up from the menu, we smiled, noticing the six silver-haired ladies who were also having a girls' night next to us.
Though the extensive, seafood-heavy appetizer list would normally paralyze me with indecision--Dungeness crab cakes ($9.50), Oysters Rockefeller ($2.25 each), calamari with artichoke aioli ($9.50)--our options were narrowed considerably by my mom's shellfish allergy. When the artfully presented Ahi Tartare "Two Ways" ($9.50) arrived, we each reached for a puffy sesame cracker and went to town. Though the two piles of raw, cubed yellowfin tuna looked noticeably different--one was coated in a creamy wasabi sauce and the other glistened with a sweet soy glaze--neither version was particularly interesting. The soy side cried for a citrus kick and the creamy corner could've used a good deal more heat.
My mom's filet mignon ($27) was an entirely different beast. She polished off every last beefy bite of the "perfectly cooked" steak, making frequent, closed-eye exclamations about how well it went with the accompanying buttery bearnaise sauce. My Idaho trout ($22) was also a winner--covered in a crispy sliced-almond batter--but it would've given a good-sized bear difficulty finishing. I boxed up the leftover trout, a healthy dollop of garlic mashed potatoes and a few broccoli crowns and had the feast for both lunch and dinner the next day.
On another evening, as big flakes of the season's first snow came cascading down from the dreary sky, I decided to take refuge in the bar at Angell's once again. Holing up in one of the booths, I opted for a classic, dirty martini ($10) and two tiger prawns with tamarind marmalade ($2.25 each). As I watched the flicker of a football game reflect off faces around the bar and felt a warm martini glow wash over me, I decided to stick around and hide out a little while longer.
--Tara Morgan really hopes Angell's inspired that Aerosmith song.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Angell's Bar and Grill.