What used to be a dead end at the eastern tip of Parkcenter Boulevard is now a hip little shopping village called Bown Crossing Marketplace. Touted as a mixed-use development, the stylish new hub is surrounded by a multitude of established neighborhoods as well as an eponymous new one. Amid the collection of storefronts that offer things like treats for the sweet-of-tooth, day spa services, and irresistible pet accessories sits an impressive-looking modern pub and restaurant called Tavern at Bown Crossing, where you can get a prime-grade steak or a plate of sushi with a spectacular view of Boise's golden Foothills.
Tavern is really two restaurants in one: A sushi bar on one side, and a collection of dining areas where contemporary fare is served on the other. The interior is a handsome maze of dining rooms and outdoor patios, both at street level and on the second floor. While most customers can march right up the stairs that greet you as you enter the front door, an elevator in the sushi bar gives handicapped patrons access to the second-story patio to soak up that beautiful view.
I am easily tempted by the prospect of good sushi, so I paid my first of two visits to the sushi bar with two like-minded sushiholics and visited the other side with my hunky new boss for beer and appetizers on the second.
We arrived during the August block party, when the streets were filled with barefoot children running around in their swimsuits. Neighbors strolled from store to store while a live band played music. Needless to say, the patios at Tavern were happening both upstairs and down. Although part of me longed to sit outside where all the action was, I managed to stay focused and settled in at the sushi bar with my two co-testers. The comfortably modern, air-conditioned room was about two-thirds full on this late Thursday afternoon.
I envy anyone who can hop on their bike and pedal a few blocks for a sushi meal. Tavern's menu offers a selection of sashimi (sliced raw fish), nigiri (sliced raw fish on rice), maki (sliced roll) and temaki (hand roll), as well as appetizers like edamame, tempura and poki (diced raw fish). Sapporo and Kirin beers as well as hot and cold sake are also on hand. Sipping cold Ginjo filtered sake ($14.50), we began with the delicious baked mussels and scallops in garlic sauce and teriyaki ($5.95) and an order of plump chicken satay skewers ($7.95) with peanut dipping sauce. When our sushi arrived, co-tester No. 1 liked his Mac Daddy roll ($11.50), made with tempura shrimp, seared tuna, cucumber, avocado and masago. Same for co-tester No. 2's Firecracker roll ($11.75), made with spicy tuna, cucumber, seared tuna, avocado, tobiko and spicy ponzu sauce. I also enjoyed my Rainbow roll ($11.75) filled with crab and cucumber then draped with slices of shrimp, salmon, avocado and tuna. It was a good quality, above-average sushi experience.
For the second visit three days later, I took my hunky new boss. From the hearty selection of wines, beers and cocktails, we chose 22-ounce glasses of Guinness ($6.50) and Drop Top Ale ($5.50), and tried to decide what to eat. Appetizers like baked brie ($9.95) and steamed clams ($12.95) tempted while entrees like prime-grade ribeye ($26.95) and seared ahi tuna ($23.95) teased. Inventive salads and sandwiches also begged to be chosen. Unwilling to bust the budget or the gut, we opted to split an order of pot roast nachos ($13.95). Warm, crunchy, cheesy and loaded with beefy chunks of pot roast, sour cream, pico de gallo and jalapeno rings, we did our best to put a dent in it, but about a third remained on the plate when we left. If I lived near Bown Crossing Marketplace, I'd gladly ride my bike to Tavern often for sushi, beer, and to conduct further testing. Overall, both food and service were very good, and you can't beat the view.
Jennifer Hernandez sips suds and sings songs in the sunshine.