Whether it's a restaurant with a store or a store with a restaurant, one thing European restaurants in town have that other ethnic eateries do not is a selection of wares. Tres Bonne Cuisine is equal parts home-style cooking and European goods--walls and countertops are covered in every kind of Eastern European cookie, cracker, jam, candy and dry good that you can imagine--including an entire room dedicated to wine and beer.
Owners Barbara and Tom Haines were familiar faces to downtown Bon Marche/Macy's shoppers: for about 10 years, the couple ran Tres Bon, the anachronistic cafe housed in the basement of the department store. Though the menu was made up mostly of sandwiches, salads and burgers, Polish-born Barbara often put her spin on a dish and served up some authentic food from her homeland.
News that Tres Bonne Cuisine had opened was greeted with cheers by old customers and huzzahs from boozy folk looking for a different kind of brew.
Barbara is usually at the front of the house and her furrowed brow and curt "So, sit anywhere," when customers walk in is a change from the overly chipper "Hi! Welcome to our giant homogenized restaurant!" often heard at chains. With Tom cooking in the back, Barbara doesn't mince words, but she will talk politics, the economy, explain anything on the menu and share a bite of dry Polish sausage on a bit of buttered rye that is her breakfast.
The menu is a melange of foods that could only be described as comfortable from both American and European stock. A big burger with bacon, mushrooms and two kinds of cheese ($5.25) shares space with a bratburger ($5.75), German pot roast ($5.75) and a pork and sauerkraut sandwich called knacle head ($5.75). Or make like an architect and build your own 'wich ($5.50) from the deli case--choose from beer sausage, krakau sausage, liverwurst and schinkenwurst.
Of course, in a place that specializes in German and Polish food, sausages make a featured appearance on the menu. The grilled mild chorizo "from butcher in Idaho" ($5.95) actually has a little bite to it that is quickly tamed by the delicious pile of more-sweet-than-sauerkraut that tops it, or a spoonful of accompanying sweet homemade yellow potato salad laden with crunchy bites of celery and onion.
Breakfast is served from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and dinner is available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Add that to the fact that each table has a little bowl of gummy bears on it, and eating at Tres Bonne Cuisine is like eating at Grandma's--if she's from the old country.
--Amy Atkins isn't from the old country, she's just old.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Tres Bonne Cuisine.