Sunday, December 30, 2012

Koenig Merlot 2009

Estate grown grapes, from the Snake River Valley AVA.  14 months in oak.

Deep ruby color with slight browning.

Strawberry jam, cedar, plum, and blackberry notes, with a currant and tobacco finish.  A nice, elegant Merlot from one of Idaho's best regarded producers, Koenig Distillery and Winery.

RAM Restaurant and Brewery

RAM Restaurant and Brewery
709 East Park Boulevard
Boise, ID 83712

The downtown Boise outpost of a family-run chain of about 20 sports bar/restaurant/brewpubs (currently in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, and Indiana). Lots of TVs for viewing games from the bar or restaurant seating.

The Big Horn Blonde ale is light and clean with just a hint of hops. The 71 Pale Ale is fairly mild at first, but has lots of hop at the very end. A "Short" beer is 18 oz. but looks far bigger. The sodas are similarly generous.

The menu includes salads, sandwiches, and lots of burger creations, some of which seem overly complicated. I didn't see any build-your-own choice on the burgers, but also did not ask.  The burgers are flame grilled, which gives them a good classic taste, are very generous (1/2 lb probably), and relatively sloppy given their complexity.  Medium rare ended up closer to rare, but medium well came out just right.

The Border burger had lots of sliced Jalapeños (including seeds and ribs), which provided some decent heat, but the salsa wasn't realy memorable and the cheese was virtually absent.

The sweet potato fries are passable but not stellar - could be a little crisper, and they seemed to be significantly flavored by the cooking oil.

The decor is a somewhat upscaled Marie Calender's, with brickwork columns by Gaudí.

Overall a decent place for a burger and a beer, especially if you're hungry after a cold day on the slopes at Bogus Basin.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Perks of Life

Perks of Life
1540 E. Iron Eagle Dr.
Eagle, ID 83616

Tucked in a small strip mall where State St. turns into Edgewood Dr, just before intersecting ... State St!  They've done a decent job of warming up a stark building, and managed to get a passable coffee house flair into it.

The breakfast burrito with sausage, egg, potato and cheese was decent but would have been far better with the salsa that I discovered at the bottom of my paper bag after finishing the burrito.  Perhaps a little more seasoning and less cheese would help, too.

The brewed coffee is from Dawson Taylor, which is also just ok.  The Full Circle coffee at Rembrandts, or Doma at Salt Tears are generally more to my liking.

If you get there at a reasonable hour (9:00-ish), the boysenberry white chocolate scones are still warm from the oven. Good texture, and plenty of tangy boysenberries - almost worth going just for the scones.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rembrandts Coffee House

S. Eagle Rd.
Eagle, ID

Great coffee house atmosphere in a converted church in downtown Eagle. Fair trade, sustainable coffee roasted on-site. Full espresso bar. Large selection of house-made baked goods - muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, etc.

Tried the Caesar salad with grilled chicken for lunch. The caesar dressing was somewhat oily and not very ceasar-ish. The chicken breast was a little dry but had good flavor. Service was fairly quick, but had been surprisingly slow in the past-  even for just a regular coffee and scone to go. Hopefully the service issues are all behind them.

Live music and open mic occasionally, and sometimes closed for special events.

Lucky Fins Seafood revisit

Lucky Fins Seafood Grill
1441 N. Eagle Road,
Meridian Idaho 83642
(208)888-FINS (3467)

Tried one of the daily specials: New Zealand Blue Moki. The fish was a nicely prepared filet, moist, with a very light flour crust. The salsa and avocado were fairly bland, as was the rice (which was also somewhat mushy). Overall just passable, and only because of the fish itself. Also tried the Atomic Roll again. They really like to pour on the heat with this one. The jalapeño pieces are large and numerous, and still have some rib and the occasional seed. That plus the Sriracha sauce on top make this a very spicy roll, and the fish is completely overwhelmed. We ended up pulling a lot of the jalapeño out just to tone down the heat. Can't really recommend this roll in it's present form.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Blue Moose Pizza

Danielle's Blue Moose Pizza Drive thru Diner
907 Lake St
McCall, ID

A smallish diner and drive-through on the west end of downtown McCall.  Decor is log cabin diner with lots of moose photos and crafts.

The menu includes pizzas (obviously), hamburgers, sandwiches, etc.  They also have a breakfast menu.  Beer and wine are available.

The sausage sandwich had a nicely split and grilled Italian sausage, with generous amount of grilled onions and peppers, on a lightly-toasted soft sesame roll.  Tasty, and large enough to split for two light eaters.

The Hungarian Mushroom Soup was very flavorful with good earthy herbs.  While it had some cream in it, it wasn't a truly cream-based soup.  However, it probably would have been better without the cream at all.

Will have to go back and try out the pizza.

Definitely worth a visit for a casual lunch in McCall.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lucky Fins Seafood Grill

Lucky Fins Seafood Grill
1441 N. Eagle Road,
Meridian Idaho 83642
(208)888-FINS (3467)

Extensive seafood menu, wide range of preparations.  Only tried the sushi so far, but we're already certain to go back and try other items.

The sushi selection is very limited, dominated by ahi and hamachi, but that definitely helps them focus on getting really good quality fish.  The hamachi nigiri was the best we've found in the area so far.   Their rolls are creative, and the menu is clear on which ones use Krab vs. Crab.  They could trim the jalapenos a little better - too much of the rib and seeds in one of the rolls, and unevenly distributed, so there was more heat than expected in a couple of the bites.  Otherwise, a definite hit.


78 Eagle River St.  Suite 165
Eagle, ID 83616
(208) 938-6261

Stunning variety of beers available by the bottle (they claim something like 350 different beers available), covering pretty much any style or region one could imagine.  10 beers on tap, with the selection chaging frequently and drawing heavily from craft-ish brewers of the western states like Stone, 21st Amendment, Firestone Walker, Salmon, Grand Teton. Seasonal brews from larger houses like Sierra Nevada also in the mix.

On a recent visit, tried the Westmalle Trappist Dubbel (33cl) and the Ninkasi Oatis Oatmeal Stout.  The Westmalle is a fairly straightforward representation of a Belgian dubbel, with good malty flavor and creamy head, but seemed to lack the distinctive Belgian yeast character that makes Trappist ales so interesting.  Perhaps that's partially a result of the smaller bottle - would be interesting to try it side-by-side with a 75cl to compare.  The Ninkasi is a very rich, dark oatmeal stout, very smooth and slightly sweet.

The belly burger is an interesting combination of beef and a little pork belly, giving the burger a nice soft texture despite being cooked well-done.  A nice solution for folks that don't like their burgers rare but still want something tender and jucy.

The old south pork sandwich is one of the better pulled pork sandwiches in the area, with good but not overpowering smoky flavor, and the pork isn't dried out or tough (always difficult to get the right balance ).

The red chili was somewhat disappointing.  The texture and flavor are not far from canned tomato paste.  Maybe it would be ok on chips/nachos, but not something to try by itself.  The green chili on the other hand was much more of a success.  Very good roasted chili flavor, tender pork.  No real heat to it.

The soft shell crab po-boy had two expertly fried crabs - nice light crunch, very tender.  Great flavor overall.

The flatbreads are also generally winners, although the crust was a little undercooked and tough on one of the flatbreads we tried.

Decor is very minimalist and industrial.  Definitely not a cozy corner pub but, with the stunning beer selection in the wall of fridges, the decor is likely to not get noticed all that much.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ahi Sushi Bar

Ahi Sushi Bar
1193 E. Winding Creek Drive #104
Eagle, Idaho 83616

A much shorter menu than some of the other sushi places we've tried, but also a much better result.  Started with the pork gyoza, which had a nice thin wrapper that was cooked just slightly crispy, and a tender filling with decent flavor.  The we sampled a few rolls:

Rainbow roll: The fish on top was fresh and tasty, and the "crab" was at least a relatively decent version of the fake stuff.  Unfortunately, they forgot the avocado which made for slightly disappointed first few bites.  We got the waitress to bring a few slices, and that definitely helped get the expected flavor and texture.

Firecracker roll: The seared ahi on top could have been seared a little more, and the garlic wasn't evident in the ponzu sauce. The jalepeno only gave it a small bit of heat that didn't really live up to the name, but overall still a nice roll. 

Spicy yellowtail roll:  Again, didn't really live up to the "spicy" in the name.  Would say this was just a straightforward rendition of a yellowtail roll.

The fish (especially the ahi) was better here than at other places we've tried in the area. Not stunning, but it's definitely worth going back.  Their prices are fairly reasonable, and the happy hour specials look like a fairly good deal if they keep up the quality.

Sakura Sushi, revisit

Sakura Sushi
3210 East Chinden Boulevard 
Eagle, ID 83616
(208) 938-1599

Tried the Sushi Delux and the Maguro+Hamachi dinner, again take-out.  This certainly avoided the too much fake crab issue we ran into last time with the Sakura Special.  Again, the fish was ok but not fantastic.  The seaweed they use has a somewhat different flavor (reminiscent of anise, or some raw shellfish) and was a little too chewy for our taste. Have yet to try the cooked dishes, or dine in, so there's still hope that we'll find something that stands out on the menu.  But so far, there really hasn't been anything compelling or memorable enough to make us excited to go back.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Doug's Burger Den

Doug's Burger Den
231 East State Street
Eagle, ID 83616
(208) 939-3300

A somewhat dated looking burger joint, but the food is reasonably good for what it is.  Good basic burgers and sweet potato fries (not on the permanent menu).  Choice of regular or curly fries also, but haven't tried those yet.  Will have to go back for those and perhaps one of their hot sandwiches (Philly, steak, chicken, etc).

Drive-thru service isn't terribly fast, but presumably they're making the burgers to order so can't really complain about that.  Skip the McDonalds around the corner and go to Doug's instead.

Friday, October 19, 2012


108 West 33rd Street, Garden City, ID
(208) 375-7507

"From the Worlds of Science, Industry & Government Surplus"

Slightly dated oscilloscopes, large random collection of lab optics, bits and bobs of computer equipment, workbenches of various kinds, a small industrial furnace, army surplus digital camo t-shirts, lab coats, misc sensors, wiring, hardware, etc.

A few real gems in the "not for sale" category", like:

- wheeled robot from Idaho National Lab (hope it wasn't used in any of the nuclear programs ...)
- simulator racks from JPL for the Galileo space probe mission to Jupiter :

Los Betos

Los Betos
6906 West State Street, Boise, ID
(208) 853-1494

Classic hole-in-the wall taqueria reminiscent of all the *bertos (Roberto's, Robiberto's, Alberto's, Aliberto's, etc) in San Diego. Grilled tortillas for the burritos (not steamed!; What's with steaming the tortillas in San Francisco??), short list of ingredients for most burritos - meat, guac, pico de gallo - and generous serving sizes. Tacos are also generously sized, with more ingredients, making them tasty but a bit difficult to eat without a fork.

They have several other locations in the area (one more in Boise, 2 in Nampa, one on Eagle Road in Meridian). And, most importantly, some locations are open 24 hours!

Not high cuisine, but if you need a quick burrito fix in the Treasure Valley, Los Betos is the place to go.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe

Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe
99 E State St
Eagle, ID 83616

Great selection of "old time" candies, candy bars, classic sodas, etc. plus plenty of newer choices (including sugar-free candies) and locally made chocolates. Definitely worth a visit for anybody with a sweet tooth.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sakura Sushi

Sakura Sushi
3210 East Chinden Boulevard 
Eagle, ID 83616
(208) 938-1599

Tried a take-out sushi combination dinner for two.  Presentation was nice, especially for take-out.  The nigiri were decent but not spectacular, and the rolls relied too heavily on imitation crab.  The salad was the typical iceberg with a few bits of tomato and cucumber, with a better-than-average ginger soy dressing.  Overall, the food was passable but not inspired.  Will have to try dining in at some point, preferably at the sushi bar, and see if that makes a difference.  Will also have to try some of the cooked entrees to see how those rate.

Wine by Joe

Wine by Joe
2010 Pinot Noir, Oregon

Picked this up on sale at the Eagle Island Fred Meyer for $14.99. Sadly, it doesn't live up to the "Really Good" label. Instead of the bright natural cherry flavor that some Pinots have, this one really reminded me of Cherry KOOL-AID. Had some with dinner, but there was plenty left so I VacuVinned it and left it sitting out. Tried a little more the next day, and the KOOL-AID flavors had dropped off and some earthy notes started coming through. Definitely better, but still not a great find even at that sale price.