Words & Deeds

Dip your $11 sandwich in ‘bone juice’ at this new Boise restaurant

Where’s that popcorn machine? Tasso will serve all its sandwiches with unlimited, self-serve popcorn seasoned with creative flavors.
Where’s that popcorn machine? Tasso will serve all its sandwiches with unlimited, self-serve popcorn seasoned with creative flavors. mdeeds@idahostatesman.com

Downtown Boise lost a gourmet sandwich shrine when Bleubird closed last month, but it will gain another when Tasso opens a few blocks away.

The 42-seat restaurant will debut at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the former Fresh Off the Hook space at 401 S. Eighth St.

Chef Dan Carruthers, formerly of Red Feather Lounge and the Boise Co-op, has crafted an enticing menu of $11 sandwiches and $4 deli selections for the lunch and dinner crowd.

Dan and his wife, Hannah Carruthers, saw opportunity for a sandwich-based model, he says — even before the owners of Bleubird announced they were moving on to a new venture.

“That was fortuitous for us — totally,” Carruthers admits. “(But) It just seemed like a good fit for the BoDo area. It’s getting really — I don’t have a better word than ‘cool’ — but it’s getting really cool. We’ve got Slow by Slow. The STIL opened. It just seemed like the right time for this kind of place.”

At a soft opening July 9, Dan Sell and Kasey Allen, owners of The Stil at 786 W. Broad St. in Boise, talked about the qualities that set their ice cream shop apart.

Everything at Tasso is made from scratch. “We’re buying raw products,” Carruthers says. “We’re using just Heritage Meats. And we cure them. We age them. We smoke them. And then we slice them up and put them on a yummy sandwich.”

Among the six sandwiches are mouth-watering creations such as bocadillo (fresh ham, special olive oil, manchego, ciabatta), smoked steelhead (lemon’d cream cheese, fixins, bagel) and pastrami dip (smoked brisket, gruyere, mustard, baguette — bone juice).

Um, bone juice?

“We’re breaking down all our own proteins — beef, pork, turkey and everything,” Carruthers says. “So we use the beef and the pork bones to make a really thick, rich, au jus.

“It’s a super dip.”

All sandwiches are served with a “fat” homemade pickle — and fresh popcorn. But this isn’t just any popcorn. It will be seasoned with wild flavors. Opening day? Smoked paprika and nori. (Yes, nori — like on a sushi roll.)

“We’ve got a handful of different flavors that we’re going to put out, and people can put whatever they want on their corn,” Carruthers says.

It’s self-service, too. “Unlimited. Eat as much as you want.”

Tasso’s $4 deli choices range from green salad (sweet and sour dressing, sesame seeds) and soup to Moroccan chicken salad (tomatoes, olives, almonds, spices, harissa yogurt, toast) and Cuban black bean chili (roasted pork nubs, onions, spices).

For now, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. When Tasso gets its beer and wine licensing — with luck, in a couple of weeks — hours will be extended to 9 p.m. all five days. Tasso will have eight local beers on tap and sell wine by the bottle.

When that happens, Tasso also will unveil its “happy hours” menu, which starts at 4 p.m. You’ll be able to snag goodies such as peppered jerky for $2, bottomless popcorn for $3, or an $8 happy-hour sandwich of tasso ham, provolone, herbenade, gravy and ciabatta.

Dan and Hannah Carruthers have been looking to open a restaurant for the past three years, he says. It’s exciting to finally start building those ambitious Tasso sandwiches.

“We didn’t really have this concept until we found this space,” he says. “It just seemed like the right fit for the area.”

Online: tassoboise.com. Phone: (208) 336-2555.

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