Grant’s Neighborhood Grill recently opened on Cherry Lane in west Meridian, giving diners in this stretch of Ada County an alternative to the corporate eateries that dominate the restaurant landscape in Idaho’s fastest growing city.
Owned by Mike and Rae Grant, who also own Papa Joe’s near Boise State University, Grant’s has set out to redefine what it means to be “eating good in the neighborhood.”
All jingles aside, this restaurant and watering hole raises the bar around here when it comes to serving locally sourced foodstuffs in a creative manner. And let’s not forget the rotating selection of Boise-area draft brews and modern-day cocktails that keep the whistles whet.
Executive chef Aaron Sheets, a scratch-cooking kind of guy, uses lots of produce and meats from area farms on his all-day seasonal menu, which boasts inventive starters, sandwiches, burgers and entrées.
The space itself is situated in the corner spot of a strip mall, just down the way from Idaho Mountain Touring. It’s compact yet well designed, with a short-short bar, a small dining room and a covered patio.
Grant’s has earned a loyal following over the summer. The place is especially popular with folks who live in the nearby subdivisions, thus the concept. But many Boiseans are making the trip to see what the buzz is all about.
Diners can prime their palates with tempura green beans ($7), a starter that’s destined to be a menu mainstay during the summer and fall months. As billed, these crisp green beans get battered with tempura and treated to a bubbling deep fryer, then served with three scratch dipping sauces that change with the whim of the kitchen. One night, I received three little ramekins containing rosemary-flecked horseradish aioli, avocado mayonnaise and a bright roasted red bell pepper coulis.
A pork belly appetizer ($9) also stands out on the starter list. This slowly braised and seared stratum of a hog’s underbelly —garnished with a big pinch of micro-greens — came to us on a bed of velvety apple-potato puree. While the golden slab of pork was surely fork-tender, it lacked seasoning and the chive oil described on the menu.
Flatbreads have become so ubiquitous at pubs and wine bars that I often overlook them. But Grant’s flatbread pizzas ($10) rise above others thanks to a delightfully chewy and puffy dough. I chose a flatbread layered with creamy goat cheese, toothsome pieces of cured duck breast, fresh rosemary, smoked grape tomatoes and a zigzag of balsamic vinegar reduction.
A glass of Oregon Pinot Noir ($9) from Iris Vineyards, with its condensed plum essence, paired well with the pronounced flavors on the flatbread.
As for entrées, the list is short. But you’ll find plenty of nuance on these plates as well.
Parmesan gnocchi ($14) is another dish that will probably be around awhile, or at least until it’s butternut squash season. These seared little pillows of cheesy potato dough were sautéed in a light brown butter sauce with crimini mushrooms, grape tomatoes, fresh thyme and asparagus. Of course, asparagus season ended a few months ago in this area, but who really cares? It’s an excellent dish.
Make sure to save room for the silky icebox cheesecake ($7), made with tangy goat cheese and Greek yogurt, adorned with graham cracker crumbles, syrupy peach gelée and fresh plums.
The menu stays the same during lunch, but sandwiches and salads seem to be what people want in the daytime hours.
This and That ($9) is a soup and sandwich special offered everyday until 5 p.m. I went for the Cubano — a crispy, corrugated panini sandwich oozing Swiss cheese, braised pork, ham, pickles and made-from-scratch Dijon — and a cup of asparagus soup, which was on the watery side.
What you read is what you get with the macaroni and cheese ($7), a deep bowl filled with buttered breadcrumb-topped cavatappi pasta (think big spirals) coated in a rich white cheddar sauce.
The steak salad ($14) is another good pick, with its marinated, grilled slices of pink-centered flank steak arranged around a bed of mixed greens (tossed in an herby vinaigrette) with pickled red onion, sun-dried tomato bits and blue cheese crumbles.
Grant’s Neighborhood Grill seems to be headed in the right direction with its ingredient-driven fare, and the friendly service gives the place a welcoming vibe. Don’t be surprised to see Grant’s pop up in different Valley neighborhoods in the coming years.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.