Brick 29… City Ideals in the ‘Burbs

I went to dinner last night for a friend’s birthday, at a restaurant that is fast becoming a favorite of mine. And it’s not in Boise.

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I have lived in Idaho for almost six years. I moved to Boise with a roommate from college after I graduated, and decided that its small downtown was active and charming, and far more affordable than living, say, in Portland. I quickly became convinced that Boise’s Northend was the only place I could be happy in a state where the general political question is, “Would you like ’em red or ultra-red?” Downtown Boise was part of my identity. I lived in cute, tiny apartments created very economically in large old houses, and I was content…ish.

Except that I was driving 35-40 minutes each way to work so that I could maintain my identity. That is a lot of driving every week. I am pretty sure that my being in walking distance of downtown restaurants and shops did not offset the environmental impact of my commute. After three years of teaching at a school where I was really happy, and where I had great friends, the cost/benefit analysis stopped making sense. I moved to Nampa two months ago, and I think it was the right decision.

The really silly thing about my admittedly being a Boise snob, is that if I were to step back, I’d remember that to anyone from a large, diverse metropolis, it doesn’t matter what city I’m talking about, it’s still in Idaho. Boise, of course, still hosts some of my favorite restaurants, bars, local businesses, and events, but I have been pleasantly surprised to find a few equally great places in Nampa. One of those, bringing me back to last night, is the Brick 29 Bistro.

We made the mistake of walking in without a reservation on a Friday evening, but were told that they’d be able to seat us in a half hour, which was no longer than the wait we’d have found at any chain restaurant at that point. So we took a seat at their small, stylish bar and ordered a drink (except for my pregnant friend who indulged in lemon water and cucumber water).  One of their new cocktails caught my eye, and I had to branch out. The ‘Juniper Fields’ was a brilliant little blend of Bombay Sapphire (my favorite) with strawberry purée, a touch of vanilla simple syrup, finished with a splash of champagne. Delicious!

Our table was ready before anyone had finished their beverage, and before the appetizer we ordered had arrived. The bartender still brought it over to us himself, and made sure we were all enjoying our drinks.  Our server, as always, was knowledgeable and pleasant. Our meal was fantastic and everyone was happy with their salads and entrees. After second drinks were ordered, we tried to be careful not to sound like we were enjoying ourselves too much. Topic of conversation was wandering into a solid R-rating, but we thought we were pretty funny, and not too loud. Pregnant friend may have disagreed…

Brick 29 knows what they are doing. Their menu has a perfect variety, from a vegetarian Eggplant Napoleon, a  Bistro Chicken with bourbon and cream sauce over crisp polenta (my choice last night), to several neatly prepared steaks. It is not overwhelmingly large, and they rotate menu items seasonally, but retain the favorites. Their wine list is smart, and moderately sized.  They utilize  local farms (I’m not sure how much, but any amount is better than none). Their ambiance and lighting fit exactly with the dining experience they want to create. They call themselves “Comfort Food, Reinvented,” and as a lover of comfort food, they have my loyalty.

To me, Brick 29 amply fills the space left in the Treasure Valley restaurant scene by the closure of  The Milky Way. And if you live in downtown Boise and can’t imagine a reason to drive to Nampa for dinner, I promise you this is one.  If you’re really ready to go all-in, I can tell you why you should stay and go to La Belle Vie in the morning, but that will have to be another story for another day.


~ by Lindsey on October 17, 2010.

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