Manfred’s recently debuted in the same spot as Woodland Empire Ale Craft on Front Street in Boise. It’s hard to miss the bright yellow building sandwiched between Boise Art Glass and the diminutive Doc’s Bar.
As you would imagine, the eatery focuses on pub-inspired fare that’s good for soaking up beer.
Owners Jason Farber (Archie’s Place food truck) and Jeff May (Bar Gernika) know a thing or two about putting out grub that plays well with sudsy libations.
Prior to opening Manfred’s, Farber had spent a lot of time at the brewery (and at the nearby Pre Funk Beer Bar) with his food truck putting out hybrid sloppy joes and other sandwiches. So it only made sense to open a brick-and-mortar spot at this location to feed the hungry quaffers.
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Manfred’s, in many ways, is following the trend of mobile-food operators looking to get into permanent spots. Saint Lawrence Gridiron comes to mind. So does Calle 75 Street Tacos at The Village at Meridian.
Farber has devised a menu that culls inspiration from the Archie’s Place food truck and Bar Gernika, where he cooked in his early days.
They designed the business with a takeout counter where diners can conveniently order food and either sit inside or outside at the brewery, or folks can grab their grub and go on their way to the neighboring watering holes. For now, until Manfred’s dials in its takeout and small dining area, food gets ordered at the bar at Woodland Empire. Diners will still be able to order food at the brewery once the takeout window opens in the coming days.
Like at the Archie’s Place food truck, sandwiches take center stage at Manfred’s.
There’s more than meets the eye on the signature Beer Sandwich ($6). At first glance, it looks like an ordinary meatloaf sandwich made on hearty-looking bread. But upon further inspection it’s easy to detect nuance: slabs of tender, aromatic pork and lamb meatloaf, pickles marinated with fresh hop cones and a liberal smear of Electric Warrior Oatmeal Stout-spiked mustard, encased by grilled slices of rustic Acme Bakeshop bread made with spent grains from the brewery.
Folks who ate at the food truck will probably remember the Sloppy Grilled Cheese ($8). This griddle-seared sandwich gets made on tangy Alpicella Bakery sourdough with a sparse amount of ground pork (cooked with tomatillo and spices) and asiago and mozzarella cheeses, which spill out from the confines of the bread on the grill and become good and crispy around the edges. That’s probably the best part about the sandwich, those golden-brown mutants of cheese.
Anyone who has spent any time in the Boise area will surely recognize the Solomo ($9), a Basque-inspired sandwich made on a cut of crusty baguette with medallions of pepper-marinated, grilled pork loin and sliced roasted red bell pepper. It comes with a dipping cup of spicy garlic jus that eats like a soup.
The Cubano ($9) gives a shoutout to the national sandwich of Cuba (or at least to Little Havana in Miami). The iron-pressed baguette sandwich boasts spicy tomatillo pork, ribbons of crispy prosciutto, hop-brined pickles, gooey mozzarella, chopped pepperoncini and golden deli mustard.
Continue down the Latin path to the hybrid Tacodilla ($8), a Tex-Mex fusion creation made on a crispy flour tortilla (a little burnt around the edges) with toothsome pieces of grilled carne asada-style steak, citrus-pickled cabbage and onion, griddle-seared cheddar and a zigzag of zesty avocado cream.
Besides the aforementioned items, Manfred’s offers sides, soups, salads and desserts to boot — some of which are from the Basque persuasion.
The roasted garlic masa croquetas ($5) are a bit of a disappointment, though, mostly because these vegetarian, fried orbs don’t possess much flavor. A little more garlic and onion, perhaps? I don’t usually advocate for a side sauce for croquetas, but it might not be such a bad idea here. I guess it’s hard to beat the flavor of the chicken croquetas at Bar Gernika.
You can also get hand-cut shoestring fries ($4), which come crispy and showing a little skin.
A cup of mainstay garlic soup ($4) will definitely keep the vampires away, with its slices of chewy garlic in a dark, savory broth, topped with crunchy crostini rounds. Manfred’s also makes a soup of the day in addition to the garlic soup.
A Big Salad ($9) lives up to its billing. A heap of fresh arugula leaves gets mingled with cabbage chiffonade, cucumber, carrot, dried blueberries, toasted sunflower seeds and crumbled asiago cheese. It came with a side of watery yet pungent Gernika garlic dressing.
The Basque-style rice pudding ($4) will surely take Boise-area diners down memory lane. The ultra-creamy pudding (made with plump Blue Rose rice) boasts a pronounced cinnamon punch.
As you can see, some dishes are better than others at Manfred’s, which usually is the case at new restaurants that are still in fine-tuning mode.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: 1114 W. Front St., Boise
Phone: (208) 343-7202
Hours: lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Menu price range: sides, soups and salads $3-$9; sandwiches $6-$9.
Libation situation: It’s next to a brewery, so you can order Woodland Empire brews, plus a few handcrafted beers from other breweries around the region.
Kid friendly? Yes. Woodland Empire allows minors in the bar area until 7 p.m. There’s even a Ghostbusters pinball machine.
Wheelchair accessible? Yes. But if you’re on wheels it’s best to order from Woodland Empire.
Opened: July 2016