The term "golf course restaurant" doesn't usually conjure images of fine dining--it's more like fried food, bags of chips and beer in a place with industrial carpeting that can withstand golf spikes.
But there are exceptions--places non-golfers would gladly head to the clubhouse for. Firmly on that list is Eighteen One at Eagle Hills Golf Course. What once was uninspiring but functional space has become a surprising hideaway of casual fine dining boasting a seasonally rotating menu of artistic, yet familiar dishes.
Chef Aaron Horsewood has created a menu that celebrates traditional Idaho fare (steaks, potatoes) but with contemporary twists (blue crab tater tots). The effect is dishes that are at once familiar and intriguing.
Case in point: The recent salmon special ($18.95). A massive fillet of grilled salmon was propped against a respectable pile of steamed vegetables cooked with a touch of crunch, as well as roasted red potato wedges that were crispy on the outside and soft inside. Across the top of the salmon, long, thin slices of broiled julienned potatoes formed a net, making the dish look like a culinary sculpture. It was finished with a make-your-eyes-roll-back-good creamy dill sauce drizzled on the side of the plate.
The effect was so beautiful, I almost felt bad taking it apart--but I got over that.
The sherry basil chicken ($14.95) was another blend of taste and beauty, combining chicken breast so tender a knife wasn't required, with artichoke hearts, sun dried tomato halves and veggies on a bed of risotto. But it was the creamy basil sauce that put the dish over the top with its ideal blend of sweet and savory.
The Friday-night-only prime rib special ($13.99) is the deal of the decade, offering a tender slab of beef highlighted by an outstanding dry herb rub, sided by steamed vegetables and a baked potato. Keeping with the rest of the dishes, even this staple was beautiful to look at, with both ends of the potato cut off to allow it to stand upright with a sprig of fresh rosemary crowning it, creating the impression of an Idaho-grown pineapple.
A simple, yet quality, wine and beer list added to the overall effect, complementing the cozy, contemporary interior filled with rich earth tones, plush leather booths and black accents.
While the dessert list is short (two items), the bazuki cookie ($7) is worth getting a reservation for. A pan roughly 8-inches in diameter is filled with an inch-thick chocolate chip cookie brought fresh from the oven, massive hunks of dark chocolate still melty amid the gooey interior of the cookie. The whole sugar-shock creation is topped with rich vanilla bean ice cream.
Just a glance at the lunch and weekend breakfast menus has me already planning a return tip. My clubs can stay at home.
--Deanna Darr suffers from food-sculpture destruction guilt.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Eighteen One.