Tablerock Brewpub and Grill is tin-can-telephone distance from BW headquarters, and it's a brewpub--two things that should have solidified its spot on my dining lineup long ago. But somehow Tablerock never quite made it on my gastro short list. Not that they've noticed.
On a recent weekday evening, most tables in the open, ski-lodgey dining room were full. As were all the swivel seats crowding the long bar. We found a few empty chairs at a tall wood table and got to work scanning the beer list. Scattered among the brewery's classics--Nut Brown Ale, Whitebird Wheat, Copperhead Red--were an assortment of seasonal specialties. Though the malty Winter Cheer was tempting, I went with the Sumo Stout ($4 pint, $5.25 22-oz.), a coffee-laced gut-puncher clocking in at over 9 percent alcohol. The rest of my crew went with the oh-so-opposite Hopzilla, an aromatic hops-bomb with a surprisingly un-bitter finish.
The brews were an excellent pairing, naturally, for the pubby apps that followed. The Sambal hummus ($7.99) had a not-too-thick, not-too-runny consistency and made a great share plate, with mounds of diced cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions to sprinkle on top of the pita points. Though we debated ordering a side of the Killer Bread ($3.99)--Zeppole's Village loaf topped with garlic, parm, mayo, basil and black olives--the decadent, but not overwhelming, green onion- and parmesan-flecked spinach artichoke dip ($7.99) was more than enough to soak up the suds in our stomachs.
On a return lunch trip, I decided to explore Tablerock's more eclectic side. Though the menu has a solid showing of classic American staples--BLT, grilled cheese, Cobb salad, beef and chicken burgers--it also offers a few fusion dishes. In addition to Mulligatawny soup ($3.49 cup, $4.99 bowl)--an East Indian curried chicken soup with apple--Tablerock also serves the Chisaya Mama salad ($8.99) with quinoa, bell peppers, feta cheese, cucumbers, red onions and kalamata olives, and even a seafood jambalaya ($11.99) with tiger shrimp, cod and andouille sausage.
Ultimately, I couldn't pass up the cod and potato pancakes ($9.99), a hearty combo that instantly plopped my butt down at a dark wood pub in Prague. A flat mound of shredded, hash-brownish potatoes mingled with pungent, thinly sliced onions under a dollop of chunky, spiced cranberry applesauce and a cool smear of sour cream. But the buttery cod--a second-rate white fish when not deep-fried--was underwhelming next to the potato pancakes.
My lunch date kept it classic with the peppered bleu cheese burger ($8.99), which she noted was passable--with a soft bun and flavorful bleu cheese tang--though not mind-blowing. What was mind-blowing, we both emphatically agreed, were the french fries. Lightly beer-battered in the brewpub's own Whitebird Wheat, they alone have nudged Tablerock to the top of my happy-hour short list. And it's about time.
--Tara Morgan wants a tin can telephone line to every local brewery.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Tablerock Brewpub and Grill.