Tasso offers up a menu of globally-inspired sandwiches, salads and happy hour fare
The City of Trees has no shortage of delis. Finding a freshly made sandwich served with a big pickle is not a challenging undertaking around these parts – or anywhere in America, for that matter.
But what about a sandwich made with sous-vide-cooked turkey breast? How about some verdant shrub sauce? I’ll have some extra bone juice, please. Let’s just say that modern culinary verbiage has seeped into the deli lexicon in recent times.
You will find the aforementioned menu descriptions at Tasso, which debuted a few months ago in the former Fresh Off the Hook spot on 8th Street in the heart of BoDo. The idea here is to put out inventive sandwiches, soups and salads that glean inspiration from various locales around the world – done up with the same kind of culinary nuance exhibited at high-end establishments.
Owners Dan and Hannah Carruthers have designed a sleek, European-looking space that’s awash with white and tan hues, giving it a subtle feel without all those neon-bright colors found at American eateries these days. The service system is deli-style in its approach, meaning diners can order at the counter and the food gets delivered to their table in a timely manner by friendly staffers.
Dan Carruthers, whose résumé includes cooking stints at the Boise Co-op, Red Feather Lounge and Bittercreek Alehouse, handles the day-to-day chef responsibilities. He goes out of his way to cure all the meats used at the restaurant, and that’s what makes the eatery stand apart from other delis that simply tear open a box.
His list of house-made food continues with whole-grain mustard, fiery pickled ginger, Asian-style curry and more. In other words, Carruthers prefers to make most everything from scratch versus buying a bunch of foodstuffs. Kudos to him for going the extra mile. But he leaves the baking to Acme Bakeshop in Garden City, which delivers fresh artisan loaves daily.
The sandwiches described on the menu board all cost $11, and they get served on shiny metal trays with an overly salty house-brined pickle that’s missing a vinegary punch. Those who order sandwiches can also make a trip to the popcorn machine near the front counter for bowls of freshly popped kernels dusted with out-of-the-ordinary seasonings (one day it was seasoned with lemon and basil).
Besides a few mainstay sandwiches that don’t change, the menu gets altered slightly by the whimsy of the kitchen on a seasonal basis.
For instance, the Curry-Buta sandwich – and its play on words – was recently added to the lineup. Southeast Asia and the Caribbean come together on this bold sandwich, made on chewy-good ciabatta with marbled ribbons of orange curry-cured Kurobuta pork, pickled ginger, fragrant lemongrass aioli and herb-flecked mojo slaw that points toward Cuba.
The turkey sandwich pays homage to the Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich and its French colonial influence. Yet Tasso goes hybrid with its banh mi by encasing a cut of crusty baguette around incredibly tender turkey breast (cooked with lime and herbs for hours in a gently bubbling sous-vide machine), peppery gochu cabbage, pickled fennel and carrot, and a generous stroke of bright-green shrub sauce (cilantro, parsley, oregano and citrus pureed with the turn of a Cuisinart blade). Slow-cooking meats using the sous-vide method intensely locks in flavors, and this sandwich is big in the flavor department.
The Country Devil, a tasty spin on a Cuban sandwich, gets constructed on ciabatta with a stratum of shredded pork roast, slices of smoky tasso ham, pickled red onion, gooey Gruyere, whole-grain mustard and a light sheen of velvety country-style gravy.
Fans of French dips should try the pastrami dip, a crusty baguette filled with slices of smoky, house-cured brisket, Gruyere cheese and a tenuous smear of mustard, served with a cup of robust and beefy bone juice (fun way of saying au jus) for the dipping part of the equation.
Besides sandwiches, you also can choose from a small selection of soups, salads and sides.
The Southwest-inspired tomatillo stew ($4), which comes with sliced baguette, is expectedly tangy and pocked with shreds of slow-roasted pork, finished with a dollop of sour cream.
Take a trip to North Africa with the Moroccan chicken salad ($4), a mélange of chopped chicken, green olives and spiced almonds, tossed in piquant harissa sauce infused with thick Greek yogurt. I did find the salad to be on the salty side, though. Thankfully there’s a self-serve water station nearby.
It’s important to note that Tasso offers happy hour from 4 p.m. till closing every day it’s open. This is when you can score $4 brews, $13 bottles of wine and affordable snacks such as Thai peanuts, crispy chickpeas, marinated olives and smoked almonds.
Address: 401 S. 8th St., Boise (BoDo)
Hours: 11 a.m. to around 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Menu price range: soups, salads and sides $4; sandwiches $11.
Libation situation: Six tap handles of local craft brews, cans and bottles of regional beers and ciders, and affordable red and white wines.
Kid friendly? Yes. Especially if your kid is a foodie.
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: February 2018