Dining review: Lakeside dining at Waterfront Grill at The Drink

It's a good Boise spot to enjoy summer drinks

SPECIAL TO THE IDAHO STATESMANJune 13, 2014 

  • WATERFRONT GRILL AT THE DRINK

    Address: 3000 N. Lake Harbor Lane, Boise

    Phone: (208) 853-5070

    Online: thedrinkboise.com

    Hours: 11:30 a.m. to around 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday

    Menu price range: appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers $6-$16; entrées $12-$29

    Libation situation: Full bar with lots of tropical-inspired cocktails such as margaritas and pina coladas, a small wine list and around 10 draft beers, including several Northwest choices.

    Kid friendly? Yes. But Whammy's and the bar top in the lounge are off-limits.

    Wheelchair accessible? Yes. Wheelchairs can get to the upper deck, but there's no ramp to the lower decks.

    Opened: August 2012

There's a reason why the City of Trees is not called the City of Lakes. Not many large expanses of water can be found around town.

Waterfront Grill at The Drink, just off State Street at Lake Harbor, is the only place in Boise that offers a true lakeside dining and drinking experience.

But the emphasis here appears to be more on drinks.

This spot has earned a party reputation over the years, thanks to the former tenants, Montego Bay. The multilevel bar patio, featuring two covered floating decks and an outdoor tiki bar with a palm leaf-thatched roof, makes it an obvious place to celebrate summer.

And let's not forget all those party promotions of yesteryear aimed at bringing in droves of mooks and midriffs looking to hook up.

Things are a little tamer on the shores of Silver Lake these days, but The Drink still attracts a younger crowd after the sun goes down.

Waterfront Grill is the name of the kitchen concept at The Drink, which also has a small sports bar (Whammy's) and an inside cocktail lounge (The Blarney Stone).

A tropical-themed menu serves all the concepts. It's the kind of food that's meant to soak up alcohol - lots of alcohol. So don't expect to find trendy bar food coming out of the kitchen here.

On a recent evening, during happy hour (3-7 p.m. daily), we grabbed a table on one of the floating decks. The mist blowing in from the spouting lake fountains felt pretty good on a hot day.

I primed my pump with a cold pint of Payette Brewing Outlaw IPA ($4), and my dining partner went for a Sex on the Lake ($5), a sickly sweet take on the popular '80s drink Sex on the Beach (vodka, peach schnapps, and cranberry and orange juices).

It was hard not to notice the millennials at a nearby table who were getting an early start on the night's festivities. One half-tanked gal started swearing like a sailor and shaking her booty, followed by tears about a lost love.

Some things never change.

I inquired about the Inferno Wing Challenge on the menu. But I balked after our server said that she's seen only one person take it in her three years of working here - mostly out of disinterest, and not out of the fear of devouring a heap of habanero-laced chicken wings.

"You don't get a T-shirt or anything if you win," she told us.

We stuck with the happy hour menu.

The Loaded Fries ($5) came to us smothered with melted cheddar, chopped green onions, crispy bacon bits and squiggles of sour cream, a flavor profile that's common on old-school potato skins.

Four baby back pork ribs ($8) - tender but not quite falling off the bone - were lined up in a shallow bowl and bathed in sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Our server thoughtfully brought us some thick paper napkins to take care of our sticky fingers.

The Island Shrimp ($8) looked and tasted like they were forgotten in the deep fryer. They had an unappealing dark brown exterior, fading to black around the tails. The over-fried shrimpies came with a syrupy and piquant orange sauce that smacked of a Chinese buffet.

We were much happier with the Baja-style fish tacos ($10) off the regular menu: four lightly fried corn tortillas topped with pieces of crusty cod, sliced avocado, pico de gallo and shredded lettuce, served with steamed white rice and spicy black beans. Lime wedges sure would have been nice for spritzing the fish, though.

During another visit, we sat on the upper deck.

We started things off with a calamari appetizer ($11) and some boneless buffalo chicken wings ($5/happy hour) that were overcooked and tough, drenched in a doctored-up Frank's Red Hot cayenne sauce.

Our calamari was fried to oblivion as well. The panko-breaded squid was rubbery and dry, making it barely edible. Not even the spicy mayo dipping sauce could help this tough squid.

I ordered a margarita on the rocks ($6) in an effort to wash everything down, and I probably should have gotten another one to help me choke down the Carey Island Burger ($11).

This heart attack burger, served with sweet potato fries, came out of the kitchen teetering high on the plate. Imagine a crusty bun loaded with a pepper jack-draped beef patty, grilled carne asada, thick slices of bacon, crispy onion straws, pickled jalapenos, dill pickle and lettuce - all drenched in hot sauce.

Someone check my pulse.

We also tried the Big Island Chicken ($14), which turned out to be an overpriced grilled teriyaki chicken breast atop a mound of stale-tasting white rice and stir-fried vegetables. The promised mango salsa was nowhere in sight.

Food doesn't appear to be the focus at The Drink, but as far as bar decks go, there aren't many better places in town to sling a few pina coladas on a summer night.

Email James Patrick Kelly: scene@idahostatesman.com

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