Angell’s Bar and Grill-Renato has had a revolving door of chefs since new ownership took over the reins of the venerable restaurant nearly four years ago.
Not long after the reboot, and a slight tweak of the name, owners Russell and Marika Dawe learned that finding the right chef was no easy task. With that in mind, the Dawes soldiered on in pursuit of an ideal chef who could gel with their concept philosophies, while also exhibiting European flair and the skills needed to run a successful dining operation.
That is when longtime Boise chef Franck Bacquet entered the picture. Bacquet, who originally hails from France, did a short stint at Angell’s back in 2014, before taking on the executive chef position at Le Coq d’Or at Chateau des Fleurs in Eagle. He left that post last July and came back to Angell’s earlier this year with a basket full of ideas.
Bacquet’s recently retooled menu showcases a spectrum of continental dishes that play in concert with a few Pan-Asian offerings. Even though the eatery has never forgotten about what made it so popular back in the day (all those juicy steaks and dry martinis), the current menu hardly resembles what Bob and Mickey Angell had served when they owned the place.
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Angell’s under Bacquet’s auspice introduced a new tapas menu that runs concurrent with the dinner menu. Dining deals can be had during happy hour (4 to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday), when folks can score scaled-down versions of menu items at a reasonable price.
The dining room, with its mix-matched hanging lamps and chandeliers, has big, comfy booths and lots of nooks and crannies in which to hide out while enjoying appetizers and drinks after a long day at work.
For instance, you can get cheese fondue for $7 during happy hour. The molten Gruyere — placed in a ceramic bowl on a wire rack over a flaming tea candle — is redolent of white wine, cherry schnapps and garlic on the backbeat. It is served with slices of crusty Gaston’s Bakery baguette for dipping in the velvety cheese.
France meets Germany with the sweizerschnitzel starter ($5/happy hour), a plate of pounded-thin, lightly breaded and pan-seared pork loin cutlets cloaked in a red wine and mushroom sauce that will remind diners of bordelaise.
Continue down the Germanic path to the Guenther spaetzle ($5/happy hour). Little curls of house-made egg noodles — pushed through a perforated metal pan to form their shape — are covered in thick cheese sauce pocked with bits of crunchy bacon. The small sauté pan it gets served in is then finished in the oven with Parmesan and Swiss cheeses until it forms a golden-brown crust. The result: damn good macaroni and cheese with a variance of textures that boasts lots of smoky flavor.
Veer off into the Italian direction with the flatbread Neapolitan ($6.50/happy hour). I’ll give this appetizer an A-plus, because the cracker-thin crust — topped with sliced pear, blue cheese crumbles and red onion, finished with fresh arugula — is nice and crispy. Plus, the sweet and earthy flavors meld together well.
In the Pan-Asian realm, try the ahi crudo ($8/happy hour), a plate of fresh-as-can-be raw tuna that’s seared with sesame seeds around the edges, fanned out next to a wedge of grilled pineapple. A marble-size dab of wasabi and ramekins of dipping sauces (ginger-honey and a darker soy-sesame sauce) are also there for dressing the fish, if so desired.
Also noteworthy is a Thai salad ($7.50/happy hour) that’s a refreshing hodgepodge of shredded green papaya, carrot, radicchio, curly kale, edamame beans, bell pepper and toasted cashews, tossed in sweet and zesty dressing with a hint of fresh mint.
The regular menu draws Asian influence as well, but it mostly stays the European course.
A Peking duck appetizer ($15) culls inspiration from classic Chinese cooking, jazzed up with French flair. Pan-seared medallions of juicy duck breast (properly pink in the center) get drizzled with sticky hoisin-honey reduction, then finished with chopped scallion.
Those with hearty appetites can get entrées such as traditional veal piccata ($29.50). A large platter gets bedecked with two pan-seared, fork-tender veal cutlets (draped in a lemon-caper butter sauce on the verge of being too salty) alongside garlicky mashed potatoes, crispy Brussels sprouts and a roasted round of zucchini, hollowed out and filled with tangy ratatouille.
Bacquet shows his French side with the fish duo ($29.50), an ornately presented mound of toothsome bulgur wheat risotto (slow cooked with fish stock, onion, red bell pepper and herbs) crowned with a baked roulade of folded dover sole and king salmon. The Napoleon-style stack, adorned with grilled asparagus spears, comes surrounded by a mote of white wine cream sauce flecked with aromatic tarragon.
It appears that after a somewhat tumultuous start, the Dawes have found their groove at the reincarnation of Angell’s. A big part of this success surely has to do with Bacquet’s talent and skills in the kitchen, not to mention the attentive and professional front-of-the-house staff.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angell’s Bar and Grill-Renato
Address: 999 Main St., Boise
Phone: (208) 342-4900
Hours: Dinner reservations are taken from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Menu price range: appetizers, soups and salads $4.50-$16; entrées $15.50-$39.50
Libation situation: Classic and newfangled cocktails, draft and bottled beers and an extensive wine list that bounces around the globe, making stops in France, Italy, California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
Kid friendly? Yes
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: July 2013