Food & Drink » Food

Three New Places, Three New Plates

Delicious dishes from Grit, Boise Co-op Meridian and Siam Orchid

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Grit American Cuisine: Fried Chicken

The menu at Eagle's eclectic Grit American Cuisine is a mash-up of influences that leans heavily on Southern staples—down-home classics like chicken pot pie and mac 'n' cheese. Most items, however, have a unique twist. The mac, for example, is a blend of cheddar, smoked gouda and that low-brow minx Velveeta, with the option to add house chipotle to spice things up. Other interesting app offerings include crispy cauliflower and pumpkin with cashew yogurt dipping sauce and fire roasted fingerlings with starlight truffle salt.

Housed in the Eagle Pavilion shopping complex near Albertsons, the smallish space has a few booths and tall tables near the steel-top fully stocked bar, as well as wood tables branded with the word "GRIT" and topped with red Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum-esque salt and pepper shakers. The crimson walls are splashed with the vibrant, whimsical work of artist Lukas Evergreen, like the row of animal heads floating on a backdrop of glittering diamonds.

On a recent visit, the lunch star was the lemon-brined fried chicken, an appetizer available in two-piece ($7) or four-piece portions ($13), with heat options ranging from regular to Spicy Nashville.

The two-piece regular, served on a slab of toasted buttermilk bread with dill pickles, came encased in a perfectly crisp golden-brown shell. The thigh meat was mega moist and had a penetrating lemony herb flavor.

Though the bread seemed superfluous, the app was enough for a meal.

The Boise Co-op in the Village at Meridian has a winner of a wiener with its Bavarian Bowl. - TARA MORGAN
  • Tara Morgan
  • The Boise Co-op in the Village at Meridian has a winner of a wiener with its Bavarian Bowl.

Boise Co-op, Village at Meridian: Bavarian Bowl

Compared to the Boise Co-op's bustling, maze-like North End location, the sun-splashed Village at Meridian outpost of the popular natural foods store feels like floating on a cloud. That's intentional: The layout follows the industry's "cloud" model, where sections like meat and seafood, dairy and produce are clustered into separate stations. Not only is there more space to wheel your cart around—25,000 square feet—there's also a handful of new hot offerings.

On a weekend afternoon, the deli counter was crowded with families waiting for sandwiches and burritos. At the far end, an employee slid a thin-crust roasted kale pizza into the flickering oven.

Among the Co-op's most popular new deli items are the Bowls From Around the World, which include specials like the Patagonia Bowl—with Argentinian rice, green chimichurri beef, sweet potato and cilantro—and the Tiki Bowl with Hawaiian-fried rice, house-made spam, sweet chili sauce and sesame seeds.

The Bavarian Bowl—with house-made weisswurst, sage spaetzle and cabbage salad—was a winner. Made using a combo of pork and beef, the juicy weisswurst had notes of white pepper, dried mustard and coriander. Cut into coins and pan-seared, the sausage was served on a pile of bouncy spaetzle, flecked with sage and lacquered with butter. The accompanying salad of shaved purple cabbage and matchstick apples helped offset the richness of the dish. A squeeze of house-made mustard tied everything together. For $6.99, you'd be hard pressed to find a more filling, made-from-scratch lunch.

Need a warm up? You can't miss with the qowi teaw pet (duck noodle soup) at Siam Orchid. - TARA MORGAN
  • Tara Morgan
  • Need a warm up? You can't miss with the qowi teaw pet (duck noodle soup) at Siam Orchid.

Siam Orchid Thai Restaurant & Sushi Bar: Duck Noodle Soup

It's easy to pass by Siam Orchid, a new Thai restaurant and sushi bar that took over the former Dhondalicious Artisan Food Co-op on Fairview between Milwaukee Street and Maple Grove Road. But Siam Orchid is definitely worth a stop.

The tasteful gray space is filled with bright cherry wood tables and a few matching booths topped with fake orchids. The front features a fountain area with a few leafy plants and the back boasts a small sushi counter. Though the specialty sushi rolls are mostly cream cheese- and tempura-laden creations, the nigiri and sashimi are fresh and surprisingly inexpensive—$3.50 for two pieces of tuna, salmon yellowtail or white tuna nigiri, or $10.95 for nine pieces of mixed sashimi. They don't skimp on presentation: The simple tuna maki is served in two rows of perfect tear drops.

The Thai portion of the menu is mostly filled with familiar favorites—like pad see-ew, Swimming Rama, pad woon sen and massaman curry—but there are a few other intriguing offerings such as duck noodle soup ($12), also listed as qowi teaw pet.

Lightly sweet with an oily red sheen, the soup was spicy in waves. Hunks of green leaf lettuce mingled with a pile of bean threads and slivers of green onion on top, while rich bits of roasted duck leg and thigh meat stewed in a garlicky, black pepper-studded broth and thin rice noodles below. Hearty yet simple, the semi-sweet broth had a pleasant tang.

This spicy soup is a belly warmer that'll keep you fired-up as the temperatures drop.