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Chow Down(town)

What's new—and newly updated—in the downtown Boise food scene

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Fort Street Station—808 W. Fort St.

With Richard's Cafe Vicino now comfortably established in the Inn at 500 Capitol, its vacated space across from the Boise Co-op was ripe for a cool new eatery—Fort Street Station fits the bill admirably. Thickly varnished wooden tables, booths upholstered in rich patterned fabrics and black-and-white historical photographs lining the walls give the space an elegant-yet-casual atmosphere and evoke an old-style public house.

The menu also has a traditional pub vibe, though with some well-chosen twists. The fish 'n' chips plate ($11) featured large beer-battered chunks of flaky cod, but the accompanying sweet potato fries were the real standout: light and crispy, they kept their crunch even after a squeeze of lemon and dunk in tartar sauce. In the shrimp and artichoke salad ($14), the bright acidity of banana peppers was a pleasant contrast to the earthier artichokes, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. With its selection of beer, wine and cocktails, and great quality at a reasonable price, Fort Street Station should be on your shortlist of stops when it's time to hop off the hungry train.

Fresh Healthy Cafe—860 W. Broad St.

For this healthy haven that opened June 1 in the middle of the downtown restaurant scene, it's all in the name. Fresh Healthy Cafe serves wraps, paninis, salads, quinoa protein bowls, granola-topped power bowls, smoothies and juices all day from its whimsical BoDo space, which is filled with colorful food-themed artwork and dividing walls made of river rock topped with grass sprouts.

The turkey pesto panini ($8.29) featured thin, chewy bread that retained its toasty, crunchy crust despite the gooey mozzarella, tomatoes and fragrant pesto packed inside. The Jolly Green smoothie ($5.79) was a tropical treat, with only a slight vegetal note hinting at the wheatgrass and spinach hidden among its ingredients.

Fresh's menu has options for a myriad of dietary needs, and blenders were constantly whirring, whipping up the franchise's signature smoothies. Although the turkey panini is worth returning for, a Fresh smoothie is filling enough on its own; get the best bang for your health-conscious buck by drinking your lunch.

The STIL–786 W. Broad St.

As of this writing, The STIL—a.k.a. The Sweetest Things in Life—has more than 90 reviews on Facebook, and all of them give the indoor-outdoor ice creamery five stars. With locally made ice cream; Idaho-inspired flavor combinations; and a selection of boozy adult scoops, beer and wine, The STIL seems to have gathered many of Boise's favorites in one place.

The Bee Happy, a marriage of honey and lavender, is a life-changing ice cream if ever there was one. Its sweet burst of honey notes with lavender lingering on the finish make it an ice cream deserving of the type of discussions usually reserved for wine. On the other end of the spectrum, the brownie batter flavor, Licking the Spoon, takes chocolate to another level. Rich and intense, this cocoa powder-heavy concoction is nirvana for chocoholics (although it might be too strong for milk chocolate lovers). The STIL even offers indulgences for the 21 and older crowd, with its rotating flavors like Purple Rain (raspberry wine sorbet) and options like beer floats and affogatos—an ice cream treat drenched in espresso and, sometimes, liqueur.

At $5.75 for a double scoop of ice cream, The STIL isn't the place to go if you're penny pinching, but if you're looking to splurge a little, it sure does hit the sweet spot.

Capitol Cellars–110 S. Fifth St.

Capitol Cellars has been an almost literal hidden gem since 2015, when it opened in the Belgravia Building space previously occupied by District Coffee House—but this summer, the restaurant stepped out of its subterranean zone a bit to provide al fresco dining, too. Capitol Cellars now has a patio, which wraps around the corner of the historic building (on Main and Fifth streets) and the elegant indoor decor has been extended outside with wrought iron tables and seating at a gray granite bar facing Fifth Street—perfect for people watching.

For lunch, we tried half a prime rib French dip paired with beet salad ($15.43) and the "Ways & Means" ($15), a subtly flavored yet satisfying pasta dish featuring a gouda fondue sauce, garden fresh peas and a crisped pork belly garnish. The prime rib—a Capitol Cellars specialty served six nights a week—was peppery and packed with flavor. The salad was well balanced with meaty beets, a tart vinaigrette and candied walnuts providing a sweet punch.

With lunch options ranging in price from $5.43 to $16 and plenty of wine on the menu, Capitol Cellars has you covered for a lavish lunch date or a quick mid-day bite.

Bacon—121 N. Ninth St.

Boise's beloved ode to all things pork, John Berryhill's brunch-centric restaurant Bacon, will oust upscale eatery Berryhill on Sunday, Aug. 13 to take up permanent residence at 121 N. Ninth Street. Since 2016, the two restaurants have shared the same address, with staff performing a Clark Kent style quick-change every evening to transform Bacon into Berryhill.

According to Berryhill himself, Bacon's casual southern fare has finally won out. After a brief transition, Bacon will serve brunch—including its signature Bacon Shots ($10), a sampler of all five types of bacon on offer—all day long. The new hours will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

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