The day I discovered Jenny's Lunch Line, a drab winter weekday with a blustery bite, I felt like I'd been let in on a secret. The small, slightly hidden spot occupies space in the bottom floor of the Pioneer Building on Sixth and Main streets. Distracted by the splashy colors and blaring reggae of Chronic Tacos next door it's easy to miss the soup, salad and sandwich shop's understated entrance.
Sheltered from the cold on that winter afternoon, I ladled spoonfuls of the Bahamian fish chowder--a fragrant, coconuty yellow curry soup with hunks of white fish and a medley of veggies--into my mouth, the thick warmth of the soup contrasting the crisp, refreshingly un-wintery crunch of a mixed green side salad. I vowed then and there that Jenny's would become my new downtown lunch destination. I lied.
Somehow, I let the place slip my mind through spring and into the first gasps of summer. The next time I stepped into Jenny's was a recent blistering afternoon. The small patio was littered with lunchers--mostly ladies in business attire, though a few health-conscious men were sprinkled among them. Even though the air had itself become soupy, the July menu at Jenny's still included a solid array of soups, with an emphasis on vegan and vegetarian fare.
The mix-and-match menu options change each day of the week. Since it was Tuesday, I went with a cup of miso soup with greens and sweet potato dumplings ($2.75 cup, $5 bowl), a side of soba noodles ($2.75 reg., $5 large) and a large spring roll with tangy peanut dipping sauce ($3 each) from the board above the counter. Though the soup was on the bland side, doughy flat noodles, celery, edamame and bean sprouts in a mildly miso broth, it was a comforting companion to the zippy tang of the cold soba noodle salad, with julienned carrots, kale bits and black sesame seeds. As I attempted to fit the sloppily rolled vegetarian spring roll into the ramekin of peanut sauce--the most addictive and flavorful part of the meal--a ukulele-filled cover of Bob Marley's "Is This Love?" oozed from Chronic Tacos' speakers.
A couple of days later, I stopped back into Jenny's to sample the Thursday menu. At slightly after 2 p.m., the lunch crowd and most of the deli case offerings had long disappeared. Luckily, there was still enough tomato basil and goat cheese soup left for a hearty helping ($2.75 cup, $5 bowl) and a half veggie Reuben sandwich ($4 half, $8 whole). The tomato bisque stole the show--not too creamy or oily like some of its local cousins--and the goat cheese added a subtle kick. The pre-made sandwich, on the other hand, was mushy from sitting around too long. Even the avocado and homemade thousand island dressing couldn't save it from a one-way ticket to blandsville.
Though neither of my follow-up visits held the same magic as that initial winter day discovery, I've got Jenny's number for those days I'm in the mood for an inexpensive, killer bowl of soup.
--Tara Morgan is sad that Jenny's number is not 867-5309.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Jenny's Lunch Line.