Over the Christmas holiday I took another trip up to Boise for a week to visit some family; as with most of my trips to other cities I find myself tracking down the better-known burger joints. In a continuing effort to keep myself from getting too fat, I limited my burger intake to just two on this week long trip. Here’s my quick take on those meals.
Our first stop brought us to Bar Gernika, a tiny restaurant/bar on the Basque Block in Downtown Boise. The building and space are pretty small, with a high top bar along their kitchen area and a handful of high top and regular tables around it. The menu features a large number of sandwiches, salads and appetizers. There are actually some interesting-sounding Middle Eastern inspired items on the menu, but I didn’t have much of a choice during my visit.
The house burger is 1/3rd lb of all natural local beef with the typical LTO. While it’s not the greatest quality patty, and it was cooked almost too much, it did have really great char flavor that saved it. Unlike some burgers, this char flavor was really apparent throughout the entire meal and made it a fairly tasty, although simple burger. The potato-type bun was pretty good and proportioned well, the LTO was all fresh, the cheddar and jack cheeses were melted, and the few pickle slices were good. The fries on the other hand were great; apparently being in Idaho means no one can mess up fries yet based on my experiences. I must continue to test this theory…
While this is no gourmet burger by any means, it was certainly a great version of your typical pub burger. The bar may not be entirely kid-friendly depending on the time of day, but the atmosphere is definitely not rowdy or loud. Our bill for two burgers with fries came to an incredibly reasonable $19.35 before tip. While there are some ‘fancier’ joints in town, you can’t go wrong here with a cheap, good meal.
The next visit brought us to Fork; a fancier, modern cuisine style restaurant. The interior is modern, clean, with a lot of dark wood finishes and brick along the exterior walls. There are several large booths around the perimeter as well as some loose tables, a nice bar and I believe another small room of tables. The menu features mostly ‘loyal to local’ ingredients, in a large variety of great sounding items.
We were there on a Saturday around lunch time, and were able to order from their ‘build your own Bloody Mary’ bar. After you select from a couple of vodka and tequila options, you walk over to the counter where you are presented with your standard Clamato juice, a large number of hot sauces, seasonings, salts and veggies. I could have made three drinks to try some of the combinations I saw there. It was really cool, and something I wish would happen in Vegas soon.
Their urban burger on the menu is made with a custom brisket and ground sirloin blend, served with your standard veggies and Fork burger sauce. You also have a choice of spiced maple bacon which I was able to try later on someone else’s turkey sandwich and wished I had added it. I did get the optional Ballard Farms white cheddar though, which was quite good. The burger is served on an enormous cutting board-like plate, probably too large as it takes up much of the table and has plenty of empty space on it. The meat was great; it was cooked perfectly and very flavorful. The bun was a tiny bit overcooked but very buttery and good, almost like a croissant but softer. It was maybe a little too large for the patty, but it was really good so I didn’t mind. Overall this was a really great burger, probably the best I’ve had in town along with Bitter Creek.
Unfortunately the fries were not quite as great as the others I’ve had all over town, almost too seasoned with Parmesan, but the rosemary aioli made up for it. This was certainly unfortunate because nothing goes better with a great burger than equally great fries, and this wasn’t the case. It’s even more unfortunate because this was the first time I had less than perfect fries in Boise. They weren’t horrible, but being over-seasoned and over-cooked they didn’t impress after so many of the natural cut, unseasoned fries I’ve had all over town.
Overall this is a great restaurant, a little on the fancier side if that’s what you’re looking for. I will note that we initially tried to come on a weekday around lunch time and were met with a 30 minute wait, so either make a reservation ahead of time or plan accordingly. The interior is nice, and the menu seems to be made from some really great ingredients so you probably can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. Overall another two drastically different, but great meals experienced in Downtown Boise. Can’t wait to go back to try more!