Have you noticed all the changes going on in Berryhillville?
First off, Berryhill & Company is now referred to as Berryhill, bringing it in line with the one-word name of its sister restaurant, Bacon.
But the clipped moniker is hardly the most noticeable change at Berryhill these days. Chef and owner John Berryhill and his crew spent the early part of the year consolidating Berryhill and Bacon into the same space at the flagship location on 9th Street. (Bacon used to be around the corner in the same building.)
It’s now two restaurant concepts in one spot, with Bacon taking care of the breakfast and lunch crowd, and Berryhill handling dinner-only responsibilities.
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The attractive remodel is most apparent in the back of the restaurant where a new walk-up counter was added. Blackboard signs with the Bacon menu hang on the wall just above the exposed hot line. During the evening, the counter gets cleared off and the signs get flipped around, and the area becomes a dining counter facing the open kitchen. It’s a smart use of the space.
The daytime and evening menus also received an overhaul, with lots of play given to inventive Southern-inflected dishes. This makes sense considering that John Berryhill was raised in Arkansas, and he lived all over the Deep South in his early days.
At night, the appetizer list is a mix of old and new offerings.
Diners can still score the venerable sizzled shrimp ($13), a hissing ceramic boat filled with plump shrimps — sautéed with garlic, white wine, ancho peppers and extra virgin olive oil — straight from a scorching pan. Not as exciting was the side of rather pedestrian baguette (not that crusty local stuff), but it still worked well for soaking up the pungent pan sauce.
New starters include delicious bacon hush puppy croquetas ($7), bringing together the Basque country and old Dixie on one plate. These crispy orbs of deep-fried corn meal and potato — fragrant and moist on the inside — are studded with little bits of smoky bacon, and come with a tangy remoulade dipping sauce (spicy mayo with chopped pickle and capers).
I’m kicking myself for not trying the pork belly with bacon jam and grits. Maybe next time.
As for entrées, the retooled menu still features some former standouts — such as the macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pie — but it now has more Southern touches.
For instance, pan-roasted catfish ($23), flaky and tender underneath a hot-pan char, gets leaned on a hillock of cheesy hominy grits near some rounds of corn meal-coated and fried okra and veggies sautéed in bacon butter (spuma).
Berryhill offers various cuts of beautifully marbled Snake River Farms American Kobe beef on a rotating basis, and beef from Double R Ranch is prominently spotlighted on the menu.
One night, I sank my teeth into a pan-seared square of Snake River Farms Zabuton, ($34), a tender, six-ounce shoulder cut of Kobe-style beef cooked perfectly between medium-rare and medium, as requested. The steak, topped with a tenuous balsamic reduction, came perched atop a stack of crisp, sautéed asparagus spears next to a few roasted red potatoes lightly sprinkled with sea salt.
No heavy sauce was needed on this flavorful steak, which mingled well with a glass of Corvus Cellars Cuvee ($10), a big red blend from Walla Walla Valley.
During the daytime, when the place converts to Bacon, diners can order breakfast all day.
Bacon, the meat itself, permeates the breakfast and lunch menu, as you would imagine.
A good way to try the restaurant’s namesake protein is by ordering the Bacon Styx Sampler ($7), a collection of tall shot glasses filled with crunchy strips of cured pork belly. Don’t be surprised to get sweet candied bacon, maple-rosemary bacon, chili pepper-spiked bacon and a Kurobuta variety fragranced with herbs de Provence, to name few.
Josh-Hash ($9) is a new menu item, and you won’t leave hungry after eating this stratum of house-made buttermilk biscuit, crispy hash browns and grilled teres major steak (slightly overcooked), draped with a properly fried egg and garlicky mushroom gravy. I probably should mention that it’s crowned with spicy fried onions to boot.
Brioche French toast ($7) is a venerable dish at Bacon. Egg-dipped and griddle-seared triangles of buttery Gaston’s Bakery brioche come topped with bright strawberry compote and a puff of whipped cream. A moat of real maple syrup pools around the eggy slices of thick-cut bread.
Bacon now serves a lineup of biscuit “sammiches.” An Arkansas biscuit sammich ($7) gives a shout-out to John Berryhill’s home state. It’s a good and hearty sandwich — draped with Kurobuta sausage-pocked country gravy — but the buttermilk fried chicken under the gravy drape was a little under-seasoned for my liking.
Diners also can get bacon-dusted fries ($2.50). That’s right. Crispy, natural-cut fries flocked with dried and pulverized smoky bacon, served with peppery aioli dipping sauce.
John Berryhill does a good job of making adjustments to his concepts, and this surely has helped him to survive in Downtown Boise’s competitive restaurant environment.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: 121 N. 9th St., Boise
Phone: (208) 387-3553
Hours: Bacon is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; Berryhill is open 4 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bar stays open late.
Menu price range: Bacon: sandwiches, egg dishes and entrées $6-$11; Berryhill: appetizers $7-$17; entrées $13-$34
Libation situation: Full-service bar with contemporary and classic cocktails (the bartenders make a damn good bloody mary), nine microbrews on tap, and a recently retooled wine list with lots of labels from Idaho and Washington’s Walla Walla Valley.
Kid friendly? Yes
Wheelchair accessible? Yes