Opening a new restaurant is risky even when your concept is a "sure thing." Add "untried niche in a finicky market in a space formerly occupied by McDonald's" to the mix, and you have a bona fide extreme sport on your hands.
To Russ and Jason Crawforth, the odds and possible losses are worth the potential payoff. The Boise-born brothers are now partners in Square, a crepery that opened to the public during Alive After Five last week. They are the first in town to specialize in the classic French dish, and though inspiration came from a favorite haunt in San Francisco, Square's decor, menu and recipes are 100 percent original. From mod cloth coasters to the prosciutto, caramelized pear, cambozola, candied walnut and chive/red wine vinaigrette salad, everything is slick and gourmet--but not so much that you wouldn't dare go in without stilettos and a stylishly shredded Von Dutch T-shirt.
"We looked for a location for a long time, and one day when I was riding my cruiser downtown, I saw this place," Russ said of the almost unrecognizable spot that once reeked of deep fat fryers. After months of cleaning and remodeling, the old Main Street McDonald's has been transformed into a shiny, simple space with a sliding garage door doubling as a wall and a curving bar where you can watch your meal being made. The proud new "parents" were kind enough to invite the BW staff for a soft opening, and we were able to sample just about everything.
One of the best things about the menu is the way it gently recommends ingredient combos as well as when, how and why to eat crepes. The list of tasty stuffing choices includes Gruyere, ratatouille, tandoori chicken and tomatoes (which are richly marinated and sautéed with onions and spices), and diners have the option of building a crepe much like a personal pizza. The end result is a paper-thin pancake made of eggs, milk, buckwheat and butter and filled with delicious ingredients and then folded into a neat square and drizzled with one of several sauces like crème fraiche or basil butter. Standout extras include an imported cheese plate, $1 "soup shots" of either the house hickory smoked tomato basil (really, really good) or the soup of the day and three killer salad entrees.
Everything is good, but the real treat is the selection of sweet crepes made with a lighter batter and fillings like toasted almonds, Nutella, and fruit compote and toppings like ice cream and Grand Marnier flambé. We got to try six sinful creations, each one an adventure in flavor, texture and the bounds of the human stomach.
While Russ admitted that he and his staff are still experimenting, his ultimate goal is to provide Boise with consistent, eclectic, Brittany-style crepes, the kind that will only get better with time.
"There is definitely a buzz out there," Russ said. "this will be new to 95 percent of Boiseans, and I hope they fall in love with the food like we did." :
Square is located at 760 Main Street.