Restaurant Reviews

Blue Moose Café

Sandwiches are simple creations. Good cold cuts. Good cheese. Good bread with some fresh veggies. That's all you need. Yet so many places in the valley seem to mess them up by trying to do too much.

This is not the case at the Blue Moose Café in downtown Eagle, a converted bungalow-turned-deli that puts out top-notch sandwiches.

But this is where the accolades stop.

As evidenced by a poor dinner, the Blue Moose should stick to sandwiches.

Besides being open for lunch, the restaurant opens on Friday nights for a limited (operative word) dinner menu and music performed by a guy on a keyboard that sounds like he played the Red Lion Inn circuit during the '80s.

The patio quickly filled up with polo shirt-wearing locals there to hear lounge versions of James Taylor tunes and to sip Amstel Light.

The order-at-the-counter system works during the day. Yet dinner service seems to be defunct. I was told later that the restaurant offers these Friday night dinners more as a community service than a serious dining program.

Our exposed-belly, teen server was clueless when it came to restaurant service. We asked about wine choices, and she told us the restaurant only poured Chardonnay. A few minutes later, she walked past us with a bottle of red wine.

At night, the deli menu is supplemented by two dinner specials that are scribbled on a large chalkboard.

We thought the shrimp and avocado boat ($14.95) sounded doable, especially since we only had Chardonnay ($6.50/Liberty School) to wash it down. We also ordered a Scorpious ($7.95).

No water was offered to us or anyone that sat near us. But the servers did bring bowls of water to the dogs on the patio, while customers panted in the early evening sun.

After a painfully long wait, our food arrived, but not until it was walked around the patio in search of its rightful owners.

The shrimp and avocado boat was two seedless avocado sides covered with a tossed salad of romaine lettuce, cucumber, black olives, tomato, celery and relatively fresh tasting bay shrimp, made wet by Thousand Island dressing. Only problem here was that the avocado was unripe (hard) and the skin was left on, making it next to impossible to cut.

The Scorpious was excellent, with its slices of dark rye and stratum of tender roast beef, crumbled feta, cucumber, tomato, black olives and lettuce. This Greek-inspired sandwich was served with moist couscous pocked with chickpeas and olives.

We ordered a brownie for dessert, and then waited nearly a half-hour to be informed that the restaurant had sold out.

A few days later, we returned for lunch, hoping for a better experience.

The quickness of the lunch line pleasantly surprised us.

Soon we were munching on a delicious turkey and cranberry sandwich ($7.95), requested with whole-wheat bread, and a grilled sourdough sandwich ($7.95/Ham Stack) layered with no shortage of crispy bacon, smoked ham, melted Swiss, red onion, lettuce, tomato and Dijon mustard. Both sandwiches were served with creamy red potato salad.

We enjoyed the house Maytag salad ($7.95); essentially a chopped salad with romaine, diced chicken, apple, dried cranberries, pecans and Maytag blue cheese crumbles, lubed with creamy blue cheese dressing.

Also good was the Tijuana Twister ($8.95), a Southwestern-influenced wrap rolled tight around seasoned rice, chicken, shredded cheddar, black beans, scallion, corn and tomato, lathered with spicy ranch dressing.

The Blue Moose Cafe really shines during the day. It seems to be for the dogs at night.

James Patrick Kelly is The Idaho Statesman's restaurant critic. E-mail him at jpkfood@earthlink.net. Listen to him at 7 a.m. Saturdays on "Weekend Idaho" on KBOI AM-670.

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