Unlike some Eagle restaurants--beige- and moss green-splashed strip malls with cascading water treatments--the Blue Moose Cafe has a welcome dash of funk. But though the sandwich and salad joint is spitting distance from Eagle's other eccentric stepchild, Rembrandt's, you'd have a hard time stumbling upon it.
Situated halfway down a residential street, the Blue Moose Cafe is a hidden bungalow turned neighborhood lunch spot that is only open during a short, midday window--Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Kids' bike trailers litter the lawn and, on summer afternoons, every patio table is packed with folks sipping iced tea or light beer.
Inside the cafe, you'll find a long counter plastered with an array of sandwich, salad and wrap descriptions. For the most part, Blue Moose sticks to simple American cafe fare, often with a California or Southwest twist. Sandwiches are loaded up with avocados, veggies and fancy cheeses and served on artisan breads like garlic cheese, cranberry orange or jalapeno sourdough. Though all the classics are accounted for--the Reuben, the BLT, the club--there are also a few surprises like the Hot Hoofer ($9.95), which boasts roast beef and pepper jack cheese topped with a whole green chile on grilled jalapeno sourdough or the Thai Wrap ($9.95) with baked chicken, rice, pineapple, cucumber, mandarin oranges, cabbage and peanut sauce in a Thai ginger wrap.
I put in an order for a tuna salad sandwich ($9.95) and a side Caesar ($4.95) and snagged a shaded spot on the front porch patio. Glancing around, I noticed a shuttered, moveable tiki bar lingering in front of the restaurant, something I imagine gets good use at Blue Moose's occasional weekend live music and prix-fixe dinner nights. I also noticed lots and lots of flowers, the mosaic pattern on my table, a "for rent" sign on a house across the street, a lush lawn with reclining chairs and a few scurrying dogs. As it turned out, I had ample time to take everything in while I was waiting for my meal. Though Blue Moose has nailed the casual cafe vibe, they're not a swing in/swing out kind of spot. My order took so long to prepare that I eventually asked them to make it to-go--which, oddly, they didn't do, handing me a Styrofoam box instead.
Slightly annoyed, I sped back to Boise almost late for a wedding. Pulling up to a stoplight, my mood changed as I bit into the sandwich's sweet cranberry-orange bread, through a couple of thin slices of green apple and into a mound of white albacore tuna with pecans, dill and green onions. It was sublime. The sweet crunch of the apples and cranberry tang contrasted with the creamy heft of the tuna salad. The Caesar, which I didn't attempt to eat on the road, was also lovely. Big hunks of Parmesan floated atop fresh romaine tossed in just the right amount of dressing. The next time I'm in Eagle when Blue Moose Cafe is open--and I have nowhere to rush off to--I'll definitely be back.
--Tara Morgan is still finding bits of apple on her steering wheel.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about The Blue Moose Cafe.