North Fork Café

Special to the Idaho StatesmanApril 28, 2006 

— McCall and its environs are in the middle of a restaurant boom.

This logging town-turned-resort hamlet is not just about steak and potatoes anymore, courtesy of places like North Fork Café — a global-fusion restaurant near McCall's small airport.

New York-transplants Brian and Jill Meyer opened North Fork Cafe in 2004. Christopher Bradbeer, who grew up on California's Central Coast and spent time in Tamarack Resort's kitchens, handles chef responsibilities at the restaurant.

His menu bounces around the map, making stops in the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and New York City.

Just inside the front door, a mint green-splashed wine bar with framed bistro art (vintage Campari ads) greets diners who come for Bradbeer's global fare and glasses of wine from the predominantly California list.

The semi-exposed hot line and ornately-tiled brick pizza oven offers a glimpse of what goes on in the kitchen.

The wine bar gives way to a brighter dining room that faces the airport's hangars. Here you will find lots of colorful local paintings and wood tables.

On a mid-week visit, we left the outside melt for the comfortable dining room and glasses of Schug Pinot Noir ($8.75).

This Napa Valley wine paired well with Chris's Ribs ($8.95), a toothsome stack of tender pork spareribs drenched in hoisin-kicked barbecue sauce.

Some warm towels (or wet wipes) would've helped with our sticky fingers.

We also enjoyed the house pot stickers ($8.95). The filling on these dumplings changes weekly to reflect the seasons. On this night, we received six seared pillows packed with sumptuous shrimp and gingery bok choy, next to flowers of pickled ginger and a ramekin of fragrant plum sauce.

We then enjoyed a plate of mixed greens ($4.95/small) with tomato and cucumber slices, garlicky croutons and fresh beets hit with orange zest. A side of blue cheese dressing and warm hot-cross wheat rolls came with the salad.

Next, we committed to glasses of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay ($8.50) to pair with the Alaskan halibut ($23.95) and classic chicken piccata ($15.95).

The dry white wine played well with a grilled halibut steak (slightly overcooked), situated in a puddle of shallot-studded beurre blanc. The fresh-tasting fish was served with delicious Yukon gold potato-smoked Gouda au gratin and crunchy spears of asparagus sautéed in garlic butter.

The chicken piccata was a fork-tender pollo breast (sautéed with lemon and white wine) covered with plump capers. This dish came with a stack of asparagus and silky orzo mingled with marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic cloves.

As we placed the dessert order, we tagged on a pizza Margherita ($11.95) for our babysitter back at the hotel (yes, she works for pizza).

While her New York-style pizza sizzled away in the 600-degree brick oven, we finished our meal with a ginger-laced cupcake ($5.95) which was liberally frosted with creamy icing. This Asian-inspired confection, reminiscent of carrot cake, was a little too spicy for a dessert item, though.

We couldn't seem to drink enough water after eating it.

Our babysitter's pizza, however, was right on the money, with its crisp, thin crust, scattered basil leaves, sliced tomato and melted fresh mozzarella.

It also should be mentioned, since at heart McCall still favors its beef, that the restaurant serves plenty of charbroiled organic top sirloins and rib-eyes, sided with Idaho potatoes (in various forms), of course.

North Fork Café is a much-needed addition to McCall's dining scene. Service is friendly and Bradbeer's global comfort food makes a drive to the mountains a worthwhile venture.

J. Patrick Kelly is The Idaho Statesman's restaurant critic. E-mail him at jpkfood@yahoo.com.

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