Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Milkyway, downtown Boise

Rating: 11111
I spent my last Dinner-with-the-consultants at the fantastic Milkyway (the Empire building along 10th street) at downtown Boise. They were Boiseweekly's Best of Boise in 2004 and 2005 and I found the reason why.

This place has it all-- great food, great ambience and great service. Their website describes its best features such as "Baltic birch cabinets", zinc wrapped tabletops and stained concrete floors." I didn't notice these individual elements but I guess they all came together into a cozy restaurant where you could get on your knees and propose! They even have an artsy chandelier made of different pieces of paper with the words i love you written in different languages. I thought it looked a bit out of place but it added to the overall charm.

We each had their "pre-fix" set menu (entree and choice of two courses for $27) so we got to try a lot of their food. This lets me confidently declare that Milkyway has the best appetizers in Boise: I specially liked the seared salmon, onion rings and jalapeno and the two-way duck.

Since I was feeling particularly carniverous that night, I had their meat trifecta which was a steak, salmon and sausage served on a salad bed. This really hit the spot and went well with my Grey Goose vodka martini. My only qualm with the martini was that the olive wasn't pitted!

For dessert, I tried the traditional creme brulee (which I preferred over the uber sweet creme brulee of the Flipside Cafe) and a lemon curd tartlet which was pretty ordinary. We should've tried the Chocolate infused Bread Puddin', judged by Boise Weekly as "food we would propose to" but we were pretty stuffed and we already had Bread pudding last Monday at Cottonwood Grille! I ended the night and my last fine dining experience in Boise with a sweet lemon drop martini.

Five pawikan points for the Milkyway. We spent about $150 dollars, a bit on the pricey side but every penny was worth it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Shige Japanese Cuisine, Downtown Boise

Rating: 11110
Don't let Shige Japanese Cuisine's shabby appearance fool you-- this is great Japanese food. Period.

Located on the 2nd floor of a building at the corner of 8th and Main St., the place had a rundown and worn-out feel to it. I wouldn't come here for a first date (unless my date's a foodie) because the atmosphere is not the least bit romantic. The ambience was more of "eat! eat!".

I was surprised that the place was packed for a slow Tuesday night. We even had to wait about 20 minutes to be seated. I should've asked for the menu while we waited outside because there were definitely a lot of choices and it took our party of six some time to decide.

If you're into spicy food, try the Firecracker and the Volcano sushi-- an interesting twist to the traditional roll. My main course was the Scallops and Chicken which I washed down with chilled sake. (It was my first time to drink sake and they served it in a short, square shaped wooden cup lined with salt-- it felt very authentic. hehehe)

Three of my colleagues ordered and shared (but didn't finish) the Boat which was (surprise surprise) a wooden boat with assorted food! Different kinds of sushi, sashimi, tempura and skewered meat.

Four pawikan points for this excellent Japanese resto-- plus points for the presentation of the dishes and the awesome boat!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cottonwood Grille, Boise

Rating: 11111

Since it's my last week in beautiful Boise, we've decided to have Tuesday's-Dinner-with-Consultants every day of the week! And Monday night's dinner was at the excellent Cottonwood Grille.

The moment we stepped in from the cold, one of my companions remarked "wow! this feels like a ski lodge!" And although I've never been in a ski-lodge myself, I knew exactly what he meant! (Cottonwood kinda looks like the lodges at the Tagaytay Highlands.) The wait-to-be-seated area felt like the lobby of an expensive hotel minus the snooty maitre'd. White tablecloths, the warm and predominantly red/brown hues plus the cackling fireplace really set the mood for some serious fine dining.

To start my meal, I had the elk in chili beans soup which I ordered because it sounded exotic. I expected it to be gamy but surprisingly it wasn't! (Maybe it was because of the hot flavor of the beans!) I wouldn't have known it was elk, it tasted like ground beef to my un-cultured palate. By the way, the complimentary baked bread was yummy yummy! They were served toasty warm but not crunchy-- just the way I like them. I had to stop myself from eating it lest I lose my appetite.

My main course was the prime rib served au jus with creamed horseradish sauce and potatoes. I won't mince words but i'll say it right now-- this is the Best Prime Rib i've ever had. I asked for it to be cooked well done and it was served exactly how I wanted it but what surprised me was how tender it was! Such ease slicing it with my knife and it's the closest thing beef will ever get to melting in your mouth. The only drawback was that it was huge! Since I didn't get to finish it, I had it wrapped and had it for lunch the next day. And here's what gives this place the five pawikan points-- I heated it in a microwave and then proceeded to eat it using a plastic fork and plastic knife!

(Where else have you had a steak so tender that you can microwave it the next day and eat it with plastic utensils?!? Plastic!!!)

For dessert, we shared a chocolate banana bread pudding served with caramel rum sauce and a huckleberry cheesecake. It was my first time to taste bread pudding and this will be the bread pudding I will measure all future bread puddings against! It was sinfully sweet and a very filling dessert. Unfortunately, the cheesecake wasn't as good-- only three points on my cheesecake scale.

And have I mentioned that Cottonwood gets my Best Restroom In A Restaurant award? It's clean, lush and I felt so expensive standing behind the urinal!

Speaking of expensive, this dinner set us back about $55 each (this was with a bottle of wine) but it was worth every penny.

Five pawikan points for Cottonwood Grille and the best steak I've ever had.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Moon's Kitchen Cafe, Boise

Rating: 11100
Do they really have the best milkshakes in Boise? I had to find out.

So one fine Sunday morning, I woke up craving for a milkshake and decided to drive on over to Moon's Kitchen Cafe at downtown Boise.

The first thing you see when you enter the cafe is a small gift shop that sells assorted knick knacks-- postcards, touristy trinkets and general American kitsch. As you walk further in, it begins to look like a classic American diner like the ones you read in Archie comic books!

And so I sat by a table beside the in-house entertainer, Larry the guitarist who was jamming by his lonesome. I couldn't understand what he was playing though. It didn't seem to have any melodic structure, no progressions but what it lacked in cohesion, he made up with a lot of heart because he seemed to be enjoying himself!
I ordered their open faced moon burger which was a thick slice of ham topped on a hamburger served with about a pound of hand-sliced, home-made french fries. According to my server , the fries are special because they still taste good even after you reheat it in a microwave (which I did 2 days later because i couldn't finish it all in one sitting). Death by cholesterol! Yeah baby! And so I dug into the sandwich and they tasted... homemade. Nothing exceptional here except for the huge servings which I've come to expect from Boise!

Now on to the dessert! I ordered a chocolate malt milkshake which was prepared fresh, right before my very eyes! It was milky, very thick, very chocolatey and after a few gulps, I had to take a sip of water because it uber-rich!

Three pawikan points for Moon's Kitchen. Plus points for the homey vibe.

Was it the best milkshake i had in Boise? Well since it's the only milkshake I had, i'd have to say... yes!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Cafe Bellissima, Boise

Rating: 1110.50type here
It was a boring saturday night so I decided to head over to check out Caffe Bellissima's free salsa lessons (included in the $5 cover). Unfortunately I missed it because it started at 9pm and I got there a bit past ten! Since I didn't have a date, I got myself a beer and headed over to a corner stool, sat down and observed...

And what did I see? Cafe Bellissima is a small dance-hall (okay its not as big as a hall-- maybe we can call it a dance-room) located at the corner of 10th and Idaho. A third of the place has tables and chairs and the rest of the space is devoted to the dancing area (with what felt to me was a real ballroom-dancing-quality hardwood floor!). The club is surrounded by glass all around which was a nice touch because as the night progressed, the dancing people were framed by a light snowfall outside.

The crowd was really diverse-- I saw a 70+ year old couple dancing, some teenagers, highschool kids and people like me who were old enough to drink (we got a special bracelet that identified us). There were people who obviously didn't know how to dance, people who were so-so, a handful hardcore salsa dancers and lots of latinos! In fact, the DJ was announcing the songs in Spanish!

I mentioned to Laura the bartender that I would be flying out of Boise soon and she gave me a Dead Guy Ale (which was really good) on the house. Shell, the in-house dance instructor also gave me a couple of tips on my salsa footwork!

I'm giving this place 3.5 pawikan points-- definitely more fun if you're coming with a date but if you're a guy looking to meet up with someone then this isn't the place for you-- there was a 3:1 guy to girl ratio! Sausage fest! But if you're a girl looking for some nice Latino-looking men to dance with, then put on your dancing shoes and come visit this place.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Eleven Eyes at Terrapin Station, Boise

Rating: 11111
Eleven Eyes is unlike any jazz i've ever heard before! I really didn't know what to expect when I headed over to Terrapin Station along Main St. on that Thursday night but I got there promptly at 9pm and waited for about an hour while they were fine tuning their instruments. Was it worth the wait?

...A resounding YES! The soundcheck alone was awesome! I'm at a loss on how to categorize this kind of Jazz which featured a turntable, trumpet solos and even a saxophone plugged into effects!

The lead singer even had an apple laptop that would spit out audio samples, loops even drum beats that they would incorporate into the music. Plus, the best thing about it was that everything seemed so improv! I'm sure there is structure in all the musical chaos but I couldn't discern any verse-chorus-refrain structure in the songs.

They sound a bit like Galactic (whose Crazy Horse Mongoose I discovered because of NU 107's now-defunct Zach and Joey in the morning) I had a great time a couple of nights before at Pengilly's with the Frim Fram Four but Eleven Eyes is a different beast.

Unfortunately, the house was far from packed and I could count using one hand the tables that were occupied.

I couldn't get enough of their music so I bought their latest album, "Scope". I was a bit disappointed about it though, I thought it had too much "electronica" in it. They were definitely better live.

Five pawikans for Eleven Eyes-- bonus points for them because of an old man who got so moved by the music that he stood up, removed his coat and started dancing all alone on the dance floor!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Flipside Cafe, Boise

Rating: 11110.5
A new hire flying in from California has joined us in today's Tuesday-night-Dinner-with-the-Consultants and we found ourselves at trendy little Flipside Cafe at downtown Boise.

It's a small place, as big as your typical Starbucks and to me, it had a sexy coffee-shop feel to it with the smallish tables, the layout of the place, the funky art adorning the walls and the subdued hues.

That night I was there, they had a "Five for Five" treat-- five different glasses of red wine for $5. I'm not a sommelier and the only phrase I know to describe wine is: "the taste presents itself but not boldly" however having the five for five is a great place to start. I sampled wines from France, Oregon and California and I could actually taste the distinct yet subtle differences among them.

The service was great and our server was friendly, knew his wines (well I guess he knew them more than I did) and knew his menu. He even gave us some advice that the portions here were "European style" or what they call "small plates".

I ordered the special for that night-- seared scallops and they weren't kidding that these were small plates-- just three scallops but each bite was heavenly (plus pawikan points for presentation, by the way). I got the same comments from my companions-- excellent taste but too-small portions. I thought the size was just right! A very refreshing change from the nakakalula (overwhelming) portions that are typical of other restaurants. This just gave us space to try dessert.

We each had their chocolate creme brulee which was a funky twist to this cream-based dessert. I enjoyed the first couple of bites but then it quickly got a bit too sweet for me. I think this one should be shared too just so you'll end up craving for more.

Four and a half pawikan points for the exquisite food, small plates and for making me feel oh-so-sex-and-the-city.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Square, downtown Boise

Rating: 11110
Tuesday night's Dinner With the Consultants found us at Square, voted by Boise Weekly as Boise's best new restaurant of 2005.

It's a casual dining place right along main street and all they serve are crepes! Savory crepes, dessert crepes-- crepes of all kinds!

For my readers from the Philippines, this place feels like the love child of Cafe Breton and Greenbelt's Cafe Bola-- it had the food of the previous and the decor of the latter. Lots of bright colored circles (think: Tide box) complemented by painted stripes everywhere and lit by soft lights. Nothing fancy but it felt kinda comforting.

On the night that we dined, we had complimentary soup shots! Yes these were their house soups served in shot glasses. I specially enjoyed the tomato with basil soup and the small serving just made me crave it more. I think the fact that they were free also made it taste much better. =)

My entree was a buckwheat crepe stuffed with baby shrimp and scallops. It looked like a huge pancake that was as big as the whole plate. I dug in with gusto and I was able to finish the meal!

To cap my meal, we ordered The Behemoth, a dessert crepe with berries, nutella and whipped cream-- now this thing was huge and it took two of us to finish the whole thing but it was definitely worth the calories. Without a doubt, this would be my Best Dessert in Boise.

Four pawikan points for this one-of-a-kind resto downtown. I just can't help myself but I'll say it anyway-- it's hip to be square. (mwehehe!)