Words & Deeds

This Boise restaurant will close. A new one will serve 15-course meals. And $2.50 tacos

Boise fine-dining restaurant State & Lemp opened in 2013.
Boise fine-dining restaurant State & Lemp opened in 2013. Idaho Statesman file

State & Lemp restaurant plans to close, but what comes next sounds like it has potential to be epic.

It certainly will be Epek.

After elevating Boise’s culinary ambitions since 2013, State & Lemp will shutter March 23 at 2870 W. State St. Owner and chef Christian Phernetton, who bought State & Lemp in 2018, will rename the space Epek (a name derived from “epoch”).

When Epek opens April 11, Phernetton will fuse his passion for organic farming with his creativity in the kitchen. Epek’s meals will be driven by local, seasonal ingredients. All produce will be grown by the restaurant, says Phernetton, who owns The Chef’s Farm in Dry Creek Valley in the Boise Foothills.

Epek’s weekly dining schedule will include a variety of price points. On family-friendly “taco Tuesdays,” customers will find $2.50 tacos with vegan and meat choices, plus local beverages. On Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Epek will feature a three-course dinner menu. There will be three options for each course, and the $55 price includes a glass of champagne.

Weekends will appeal to adventurous diners. Phernetton will offer a 15-course tasting menu for $111 during first seating on Fridays and Saturdays. Rather than attempting wine pairings, lots of half bottles will be available for purchase. “A half bottle is going to be perfect for two people for four or five courses,” he says.

Epek’s three-course dinner menu will be available during second seating from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

For diners who remember State & Lemp under prior ownership, Epek will be a new direction — and a natural progression for Phernetton, who is a Boise native.

State and Lemp.jpg
Owner and chef Christian Phernetton has focused on farm-to-table cuisine since taking over State & Lemp in 2018. State & Lemp

“Concept-wise, we’re not trying to be this high-end restaurant that’s going to try to be known for getting James Beard Awards,” he says. “It’s more of myself trying to be an influence on the culinary scene, the food scene, the culture here in Boise. Epek is a lot of bringing the farm and the chef restaurant together and see what can happen.

“It’s chef-created cuisine with highly local, seasonal stuff,” he says. “And the Wednesday-Thursday is going to be very much approachable in the price aspect — for people to dine weekly or whatever.”

But that 15-course dining experience? It will be “raising the bar a little bit in that aspect for Boise — that there’s a serious tasting-menu restaurant,” Phernetton says. “But then outside of those two days, having farm-to-table, really nice food for a price that anyone can afford.”

Epek will collaborate on dinners with other local chefs, farms, breweries and wineries, he says. Phernetton also plans to offer cooking classes.

In April, he will start selling tacos, burritos and jarred produce at the Boise Farmers Market. He plans to set up his own farmers market stand in front of Epek on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Phernetton is on track get a grant from the USDA for a greenhouse, he says, which will allow him to grow crops well into winter. He already ferments, pickles and dries to prolong usefulness.

By the time this June rolls around at Epek, if it’s not off the farm, it won’t be on the menu, he says. As a chef, he enjoys the limitations that brings.

“I think sometimes when you get parameters put on you, that’s when you have to create,” he says. “What the farm is producing — I’m cooking with the best product that is available in Boise that day.”

Online: epekboise.com.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman. Since joining the newsroom as an intern in 1991, he has been a sportswriter, features editor and entertainment editor. Deeds also co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.