Deep in the heart of Eagle's new near-downtown developments, one can find the perfect ecosystem for creatures known as "ladies who lunch."
They are a rare and elusive breed, beings who prove both slightly unnerving and fascinating to those of us for whom long, luxurious lunches are something out of mythology. But wander into Eagle's Seasons Bistro Wine Bar and Catering and you're sure to spy real life examples of ladies who lunch.
LWL will likely be spotted in groups of two to eight. Keys to identifying said ladies include the presence of full wine glasses in the middle of the day, a healthy variety of gourmet salads adorning carefully designed plates, and a certain languorous attitude exuding from the ladies in question, as if they are in no particular hurry to go anywhere.
For those of us not indoctrinated in the ways of the LWL, a sighting can be alarming, but don't fear. They are friendly, and their habits have a certain appeal.
Nearly hidden in a new commercial development across the street from a gaggle of townhouses, Seasons draws in the LWL crowd with an elegant wine bar in one corner of the restaurant, tempting daily creations, a small, open cafe feel and a gourmet menu.
Saunter into its sunlit interior and peruse the seasonal selections—a requirement for any establishment with its name. There's a respectable list of deli sandwiches, wraps, paninis and salads with ingredients familiar enough to be tempting, yet gourmet enough to seem like a treat.
For instance, the Tuscan panini ($9.50) is filled with tender chunks of marinated white chicken breast and doused in a basil pesto, which is aromatic and flavorful without being so strong that it completely overwhelms all the other ingredients. With the addition of oven-roasted tomatoes, field greens and provolone cheese, the sandwich manages to balance ooey-gooey with rich flavors and the nice crunch of the grilled ciabatta bread.
Each sandwich comes with the choice of chips, seasoned fries or one of the rotating deli salads made daily. The thick-cut steak fries are the perfect choice for anyone looking for just a touch of comfort food.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Seasons was offering a creamy lemon dill shrimp salad, which combined penne pasta with small rock shrimp in a light, citrus-kissed dill dressing that managed to be a little rich, yet still light and satisfying at the same time.
One thing to remember about LWL is that they enjoy little indulgences, like a good Reuben sandwich ($9.25). Seasons' Reuben has the prerequisite layers of corned beef and either pastrami or turkey with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread, creating the United Nations of sandwiches. Something in the dressing or the sauerkraut makes its Reuben sweeter than usual, adding some variety for fans of the traditional sandwich.
To get the full LWL experience, though, beverages are required. As one might guess from the "wine bar" portion of Seasons' name, the bistro offers a varied selection of drinks for LWL. The $5-per-glass house wines are an affordable choice and the Cyprus chardonnay is a crisp and slightly sweet option for a mid-afternoon escape.
But the most important aspect of the LWL experience is to just relax. You're not going anywhere in a hurry. Of course, if real life rears its ugly head, Seasons does offer delivery.
—Deanna Darr wants to be a LWL when she grows up.
I discovered a delightful surprise at Seasons Bistro the other day when I ordered a Tuscan panini sandwich ($9.50). Amid warm chicken breast chunks, field greens, melted provolone cheese and a healthy smear of basil pesto on a toasty, chewy hunk of ciabatta bread, I found slices of oven-roasted tomatoes. The fruit is out of season, and in the middle of winter, most restaurants don't think twice about slapping a couple of hard, bland slices on a sandwich and calling it good. What impressed me was the chef's good sense to roast those puppies long enough to bring up their flavor before serving them to customers—like me—who appreciate small matters like being served produce that actually has flavor.
Seasons Bistro is a family affair owned by Chuck and Rachel Hurn. Chuck had a big hand in designing and creating the stylishly casual interior. Rachel runs the front of the house, and her brother, Eric Peterson—a graduate of Johnson & Wales University's culinary arts program—is the executive chef. Their mother, Barbara Peterson, who owned a popular gourmet deli, pastry and cookware shop in Baton Rouge, La., called Wok & Whisk, also pitches in as a cook. Although Chuck is a Boise boy, Rachel's side of the family hails from Louisiana, and you'll notice a definite Cajun and Creole flair to the bistro's menu.
"The most common question we get is, 'Do you do po' boys?'" says Rachel. Yes sir, they do, in both crawfish and shrimp ($9.25). And the Cajun-inflected remoulade that accompanies the famous Louisiana delicacy is whipped up from scratch by Eric. His recipe is a closely guarded secret. "He doesn't even let me make it," says Rachel with a smile.
Muffuletta ($9.50/half, $18/whole) is another Southern staple on the bistro's menu of upscale sandwiches, soups and salads. But the daily specials also echo bayou roots: shrimp Creole ($13.99), chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya ($9.99), shrimp and corn bisque ($7.50/cup, $9.50/bowl) and crawfish etouffee ($13.99). Of the popular etouffee, Rachel says, "It's the way we brown the roux that gives it a nutty, toasty flavor." She also revealed that the chef uses shrimp shells to make his stock, an old-school technique that produces flavor that simply cannot be scooped out of a tub of concentrated bouillon base.
Seasons opened its doors 14 months ago in a hideout location off of old State Street in Eagle. I was pleasantly surprised by how busy the dining room was on a recent Tuesday afternoon. It appears Seasons' homemade soups, daily specials and sandwiches, like my tasty Tuscan panini, are already gaining a loyal following.
The bistro's interior blends open refrigerator cases containing white wine, beer and sodas with open cupboards stocked with gourmet jams, pasta sauces and dipping oils. Two deli cases display temptations like fresh fruit tarts ($4.50) and bread pudding ($4) made with handmade croissants from Le Cafe de Paris. At the back of the restaurant you'll discover an elegant wine bar and a sizable selection of red wines presented on floor-to-ceiling bookcases lining a small dining room.
When the weather warms up, look for live music on the patio by the burbling water fountain on Friday and Saturday evenings, when Seasons will also prepare an aromatic seafood boil of crawfish, crab and corn on the cob. Chef Peterson has whipped up a new brunch menu that will include treats like Southern pecan waffles and grillades of flank steak with grits, red wine gravy, and white cheddar and scallion biscuits. "The food here is always evolving and changing," says Rachel, "like the seasons."
—Jennifer Hernandez set a dish of etouffee before King Kong, who then turned to his woman and asked, "Et tu, Faye?"