Boise's Basque Block...
Anybody else just get done cooking for 20 in a kitchen with a tiny oven that can't fit a half sheet pan, four burners that seem to randomly choose a heat level and can't fit two 10" skillets next to each other, and a slippery cutting board that results in a half inch gash in your expletive finger that won't stop bleeding? I need to make a rule about never cooking in another person's kitchen.
Anyway, thought I'd relax by relating my lunch yesterday in Boise's Basque block. The area really is just one block -- a small one too. There's a museum, a couple pubs, and a market in some seemingly historic buildings.
We went to Gernika, the place that most looked like a restaurant. Boy was that a mistake. It had basics like croquetas, chorizo, and solomo with pimientos. I got a half sandwich of chorizo and a half of the solomo. My wife got the chicken and chorizo paella. Ugh. I would have rather spent my money at most chains -- Olive Garden, Chilis, Red Robin, you name it. Prices weren't bad, but the quality was. The rolls they put the sandwiches on was worse than most rolls you get at a Safeway or the like. You'd be better off with a supermarket's "artisan" baguette. The paella was barely a step up from Rice-a-Roni. The chrizo in it was terrible. The chorizo in my sandwich wasn't bad, though. Even the water tasted funky. And the place is a bit of a dive.
There is a place called Epi's that I never saw that sounds much nicer. But for about the same price, we could have gone across the street to The Basque Market where they cook up quality basque dishes. Sure, many are the same sandwiches and croquetas that Gernika is serving, except they're using aged imported cheeses and chorizos and making salt cod croquetas. Etc. Here's their website:
So, the Basque block is tiny, but maybe worth a stop, but avoid Gernika at all costs and consider the Basque Market. They also sell wine, chocolate, and other gourmet market type items and cheese and meats by the pound.
For the times you don't go out and need to cook at home try this. All you need to do is put a slightly damp towel under it (between the cutting board and counter top) to prevent the cutting board from being slippery. All professional cooks and chefs do this. Cloth or paper towels work just fine. Or you can go to your favorite cooking store and buy an official slip sheet to prevent the board from sliding all over the counter top. Just remember to use the same care you do with your cutting board and knives to clean or replace the towels and prevent cross-contamination.
Yeah ditto. Epi's is good too. Gernika is a staple here and the Basque Market and Gernika are no longer owned by the same person. He sold both. Gernika is now run by a very long time employee. Nothing like keeping it in the family. The Basque Market was actually sold to family members of the original owner. Both places should be appreciated and visited more than ONCE!
As a Boise local, can't help but post a reply to this review. Gernika is my first choice as a place to go out, especially with an out of town guest. Mostly because of the notable difference from a chain - this place has friendly service, good food, and best of all - character. Family friendly - a great place to go. By the way - same owner as the Basque Market - an expert on all things Basque - food, wine, music, culture. If you visit Boise's Basque block, both the market and Gernika would be well worth a visit.