On the corner of the main intersection in the newly developed Bown Crossing, the lights from Kessler's Cafe dominate the dark and vacant urban village. Just completed, the development is still a bit two dimensional in appearance. It's empty storefronts reveal interesting potential for community gathering but the Crossing has yet to fully mature. Much like the area in which it is located, recently opened Kessler's has a shell-like quality to it, but one indicating the restaurant is on the verge of growing into its concept. Very few restaurants successfully pull off a casual and upscale breakfast-lunch-dinner concept, and if a cafe is going to win the pocket change of Boise's dinner crowd, it must make a valiant attempt at a stellar first impression.
Starting with saladswhich oddly preceded our appetizerthe house's apple vinaigrette won immediate praise. Having barely dug into our salads, our appetizer arrived. A house specialty, the tomato basil bruschetta was a platter of sliced baguette topped with sliced tomato, melted fresh mozzarella and sprinkled with basil accompanied by a large cup of tart hummus. Having arrived nearly simultaneously with our salads, the bruschetta and hummus taken together was an odd combination that was further complicated by the presence of the apple vinaigrette dressing on our salads.
A significant lull before the main course was appreciated. With two house specialties set before two judgmental diners, one dish stole the show. A top sirloin, cooked to a perfect medium rare was declared to be the most impressive specimen seen in many moons. And though a requested steak knife neglected to make an appearance, truly a butter knife easily cut into the tender meat. Its accompanying handcut frieslike all handcut frieswere hot and firm for the first minute on the plate before becoming limp and greasy. Significantly outshone by its counterpart, the chicken gourmandise was a perplexing dish. A large breast of sauteed chicken sat atop linguine in a walnut cream sauce with mushrooms and tomatoes. As expected the sauce was quite rich, with the walnut at perfect pitch between subtle and complementary. Like the sirloin, the chicken was exceptionally tender. And while neither of us disdained the dish, neither of us fell in love with it, agreeing that a potent flavor was needed to pacify the cream.
Critically speaking, Kessler's is on its way. It's sparse chic decor works for breakfast and lunch. As for dinner, dimmer lights, better meal pacing and a few menu tweaks will do. One well-dressed but non-uniformed server opposite one uniformed but disheveled server indicates some aloofness on the part of the staff. Yet, the menu is populated with enticing options, the patio looks as though it will soon be a popular stop for Greenbelters and judging by the word around town, the cafe's breakfast and lunch are producing satisfied customers.
Rachael Daigle has a fence made of Chupa Chups.
Kessler's Cafe, 3110 Bown Way, 338-6632. Mon.-Sun.: 7 a.m.-9 p.m.