Eagle has a new upscale restaurant where diners can enjoy globally influenced fare in a pleasant and familiar setting.
After a quick yet attractive remodel, Oak Barrel of Eagle recently opened in the former Windingcreek Grill spot near downtown Eagle.
Owners Mark and Kristina Anderson, who run a catering business with the same name, also gobbled up the former Cylos Lounge spot just down the hall from the restaurant.
Now, folks can get draft brews, lots of wines by the glass and fun twists on classic cocktails while eating cuisine put out by executive chef Mike Gradian, who formerly worked at A Lively Chef Catering. He has a penchant for making things from scratch and using locally produced foodstuffs, whenever possible, on his seasonal menus.
One evening, we grabbed a comfy booth in the main dining room (under a gorgeous photo of the pinnacled Sawtooths) and perused the corkboard menu and libation offerings.
Soon we committed to an Apple Wood Manhattan ($9), a fizzy cocktail shaken with whiskey, apple juice, sweet vermouth and maraschino cherry juice that came on the rocks.
The appetizer portion of the menu flaunts a gamut of shared plates.
Besides roasted garlic and tomato bruschetta and a charcuterie and cheese plate, the restaurant serves a tapas platter ($12/half size) designed to feed a few hungry people. The Castilian-inspired plate comes ornately arranged with Serrano ham-wrapped asparagus, garnet-hued slices of dried chorizo, green olives, wine-sautéed mushrooms, nutty manchego cheese, crostini and two wedges of chilled egg-and-potato tortilla garnished with chopped parsley.
Entrées are served a la carte, meaning side dishes cost extra. It’s not a bad deal, though, at $6 for two sides.
I was immediately drawn to a flat iron steak ($28) that melds Basque and Argentine flavors. Tender slices of grilled beef were fanned out and striped with verdant chimichurri sauce redolent of parsley, oregano, olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. The steak (showing some pink in the center, as requested) had a pronounced flavor all on its own thanks to a Basque-tinged marinade.
A glass of fruit-forward Malbec ($7/Zolo) with deep berry flavors seemed like a logical choice for a steak with chimichurri on it.
A good meatless pick is the veggie Napoleon ($14), a tall stack of grill-charred zucchini, eggplant and red bell pepper layered with tangy goat cheese and mozzarella. An underlying zigzag of dense and intensely sweet balsamic reduction brought the smoky flavors full circle.
We tagged on sides of oven-blistered Brussels sprouts (flecked with bits of chewy, sweet sun-dried tomato) and mushroom risotto, which boasted good earthy and buttery flavors yet it lacked the creaminess that one expects from slowly stirred Arborio rice.
I often overlook bread pudding at eateries because it tends to be rather boring. But the Oak Barrel’s glazed donut bread pudding ($8) not only looks appealing, it actually tastes like a warm glazed donut, dotted with plump blueberries and surrounded by a moat of velvety crème anglaise. Let’s not forget the big puff of whipped cream on top.
During a lunch visit, I was happy to spot seafood chowder ($5/cup) on the menu. Thankfully it wasn’t that roux-heavy stuff served in a hollowed-out bread bowl. Instead, toothsome pieces of salmon, cod, clams, little shrimps and red potato came in a buttery fish broth fragranced with fresh dill and mirepoix.
Expect to find a scaled-down list of starters at lunchtime.
On the meatball plate ($7), diners get to pick two styles of meatballs out of the four that the restaurant offers. We chose the Cajun-style pork and beef meatballs (succulent and full of sage atop sweet and tangy tomato sauce) and some other pork and beef meatballs riddled with minced bacon and jalapeno (situated in a puddle of thick white cheddar sauce).
The smoked chicken flatbread ($8) had the flavors right — roasted garlic cream, gooey fontina cheese and chopped sun-dried tomato, finished with fresh basil chiffonade — yet the dough was undercooked, leaving the flatbread flimsy and hard to eat.
A lamb dip sandwich ($14) took care of that French dip craving, with a crusty, toasted roll encasing thick slices of slow-roasted leg of lamb, melted Havarti and a stroke of Dijon aioli. A cup of aromatic lamb jus and crispy processed fries (freezer-to-fryer type) came on the side.
The Oak Barrel of Eagle is obviously still in the fine-tuning stage, but it’s surely headed in the right direction.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: 1065 E. Winding Creek Drive, Eagle
Phone: (208) 938-3010
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; lounge stays open till around 11:30 p.m.
Menu price range: starters, salads and soups $4-$24; sandwiches, burgers and entrées $13-$32
Libation situation: Full-service bar, draft and bottled beers and a wine list that bounces around the globe yet is surprisingly short on Idaho labels.
Kid friendly? Yes. There’s a separate menu for the wee ones.
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: March 2016