I imagine that opening a new restaurant means weeks, months and years of scrambling, scrimping and hard work, followed by insanely hectic days and nights of last-minute remodeling and preparation, all leading up to one stomach-churning moment of anticipation after you unlock the doors and flip that open sign around.
Is anybody going to come?
In the case of the new Bleubird Cafe at 10th and Idaho streets in Boise, that dramatic pause didnt last very long. And just as quickly, the buzz began: 3rd customer ever at #bleubirdcafe. Its delicious!
The Twitter update came from none other than Trey McIntyre himself, the man whose dance project has become one of the most internationally known symbols of Boises artsy, techy, creative Downtown culture.
You knew then that Bleubird was on to something.
By the time I managed to get there, Id heard about it from a tech-savvy public-relations executives foodie blog, a well-connected Downtown restaurateurs text message and a jewelry-maker/musicians Facebook entry. And I had my first lunch there before that first week ended.
And though the line wrapped back to the door (with the kind of good-looking, well-dressed folks you like to imagine hit new cafes in big cities), it moved pretty smoothly. Husband and wife team Dave Kelly and Sarah Kornfield had already developed a decent system. He runs the register and explains the unexpected and unusual ingredients. She builds the meals, sandwiches mostly, with either a small side salad or, on some days, a truly spectacular blue cheese, bacon and potato salad (that comes with a drizzle of olive oil). Since this is election season, I will endorse this amazing little salad (sour from the cheese, salty from the bacon), and encourage the Bleubird owners to promote it to the menu full time.
The grilled cheese ($7) was filled with goopy gruyere and cheddar cheeses, Dijon mustard and sweet marinated onions. I enjoyed every crispy, gooey bite, but when my restaurant owner friend told me he ordered the tomato basil soup with it for dipping, I almost went back the same day for a second. (Ill have to save that for colder weather.)
I almost never order turkey sandwiches theres too great a risk youll get dry and tasteless slices that ruin some perfectly good bread and lettuce. But I was lured in at the Bleubird by the $8 offering, which coupled the bird with lightly pungent brie, tart and sweet fig preserves, crisp pear slices, Dijon mustard and fresh greens. I dont think I even offered to share a single bite.
The menu at Bleubird is sparse it fits on a large blackboard on one wall and can change around the edges. But the sandwiches are diverse enough to please most. The Reuben made with pastrami, a pressed Cuban with pork carnitas and a traditional French ham sandwich with raclette cheese and cornichons (little pickled cukes) are all $8. A roast beef sandwich offered during one lunch visit for around the same price was dense with meat, fresh and bright. (My dining companions only criticism: too cold. This, she conceded, is why nobody pays me to review food.)
The $8 all-veggie arti artichoke hearts, roasted tomato, chevre and truffle-flavored greens was hot, crisp and pressed.
The full menu is served for lunch, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the place stays open until around 7 p.m. with cheese, cured meat and vegetable plates for after-work snacks or light dinners.
In short, the Bleubird is as big as its buzz. It has taken the quirky space left by The Fixx coffee shop and given it a simple Portland-esque urban-chic makeover, complete with a graphic mural and a big blue cow (and yes, fans of Portlandia, they did put a bird on it).
The food is served on simple wood planks with a strip of butcher paper. You can try one of three homemade sodas ginger lime, basil lemonade or rosemary grapefruit. I loved the flavor of the ginger lime, though it was a little flat.
You can say what you will about Downtowns artsy, techy, creative culture, but this is a Downtown lunch spot, and it has perfectly nailed its target audience. A massive amount of road construction outside its door has barely slowed the onslaught.
Like ATavola a few blocks away, Simple Sushi in Nampa, Salt Tears on State Street and the diverse crush of new food trucks, Bleubirds quick success shows that the Valley is hungry for unexpected, fun and creative food. Its nice to have another place to point to.
Email Gregory Hahn: firstname.lastname@example.org
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