It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to open a new restaurant. To open one in the same location where three other restaurants have opened and closed within six years means taking a really big gamble. City Grill owners Christine Reid and Mitchell Thompson both have no fear of gambling, having opened Pair in 2004, followed by both the Red Room and the City Grill in 2007.
From the moment you step into City Grill, you are enveloped in a sea of deep green. The historic Boise City National Bank building is a downtown landmark, and Thompson and Reid wanted that to play a significant part in City Grill's decor. The rich cherry hardwood floors and the forest green ceilings and walls are accented with black trim and marble. Tables have green glass banker's lamps and the bar is a mammoth testament to Victorian style. The green takes a while to adjust to, and although we appreciated the meaning, it was too much. The dining room is vaulted and open but didn't feel airy or roomy. Thankfully, the wait staff soon perked us up. Our waiter was prompt, personable and very attentive.
For starters, we ordered the artichoke, pesto and Gruyere spread ($5.50) with toasted baguette points. The spread was served warm with a nice crust of Gruyere on top. We would have liked to have had more bread with it, as the bread-to-dip ratio was off.
We opted to share three different lunch entrees. First was the cashew curried chicken salad sandwich ($8.95), with fresh poached chicken breast, red grapes, cashews and mixed greens in a mango curry sauce atop slices of toasted baguette. Aunt Pat's sandwich ($7.95) was second, with grilled black pepper chicken, Gorgonzola cream cheese, mango chutney and fresh slices of pear on toasted bread. Last was the albacore tuna melt ($8.95), with albacore cilantro tuna salad, avocado, tomatoes, Tillamook cheddar and sunflower seeds on toasted bread. I chose the seafood chowder as my side, while my friends both chose the Ciderhouse spinach salad with applewood smoked bacon, Gorgonzola crumbles, red onions, roma tomatoes and cranberries tossed in an apple cider vinaigrette.
My favorite was definitely the creamy rich seafood chowder. The bits of crab meat and clams were savory, and the potatoes were perfect. The curry chicken salad could have used more grapes, and it was difficult to eat, but tasted good. The Aunt Pat's sandwich was also good, with a nice combination of sweet and savory, but the chicken was dry. The tuna melt had good flavor and was well-received. The spinach salads were loaded with toppings, but were drenched in vinaigrette. The salads laid in pools on the plate. Both ladies found it overwhelming.
Disappointed by my lunch experience, I decided to go back and try happy hour later that day with my husband. I was pleased to find the service was consistently good. Our dinner server was great. We ordered three items off the happy hour food menu for just $1.95 each. I had an amazing glass of red wine, the Valentin Famiglia Bianchi Malbec ($6.50). We ordered the crab and jalapeno nachos, which noticeably lacked in crab meat but packed plenty of jalapeno punch. Our favorite item was the homemade chips with blue cheese dip, of which we ate every last bite. We also ordered hummus with pita bread, and our waiter brought out extra pita triangles so we could finish off the smooth hummus.
I left feeling a lot better about the place. Though the atmosphere was a little heavy for me, City Grill has a nice menu and great service. I'll go back again.
—Rachel Abrahamson agrees with Kermit the Frog that "it's not easy being green."