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Brick 29 Nampa (Boise area) - Review

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Summary
Brick 29 in downtown Nampa 20 miles west of Boise is an outstanding restaurant with a very welcoming 'local' feel. The website says, "Comfort food reinvented." I can't argue with that.

Service - 4.5 out of 5 stars
I think five or six different people stopped to make sure we were happy/comfortable/taken care of; very professional, very warm. Kevin was our server and he gets a 5 out of 5. In fact, it's my rating system, so I am giving him a 6 out of 5 instead.

Food - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Everything was above average, several items were outstanding. Standout dishes include the cowboy Ribeye, Chicken Bistro and Catch of the Day (snapper). Wonderful artichoke dip and excellent desserts; discover the "Brick". TRY THE BREAD PUDDING.

Decor - Who cares, are you a chowhound or some kind of elitist snob??
Anyway it is very nice you won't be embarrassed to take anyone here.

Wine/Alchol - No Idea (I'm a teetotaler, sorry)
However they did have a number of very colorful bottles that had to have something interesting in them.

Greatest Regret - Not ordering the pan-fried oysters, they smelled so good.

The Experience.
I just returned from a trip to Nampa (about 20 minutes west of Boise) over the weekend to visit my in-laws. I feel compelled to report on our experience at Brick 29. I looked on the board for recommendations but due to the short nature of our trip I didn't want to drive into Boise for a restaurant.

I also really like my brother and sister-in-law so I hoped to take them somewhere memorable. Anyway, after a quick search of the boards I only found one restaurant recommended in Nampa and it was tantalizingly vague. Nevertheless in the pioneering spirit of chowhounds who have gone before me, I decided to throw caution to the wind. Seriously good call on my part.

Arriving
I didn't plan well and had hoped to arrive early enough that reservations wouldn't be an issue, instead we arrived at 6:30pm with 4 adults and 2 very small children. They were heavily booked for the night but they were able to make space for us anyway. They pushed together two of those tall tables and stacked 3-4 highchairs for the baby. Our table was very near the kitchen, which was entirely open with just a counter seperating it from the rest of the room.

In my experience, chef/owner restaurants can be a little snooty when it comes to things like children but we never felt out of place. In fact, one thing I liked a lot was the local feel to the whole place. While the decor was more upscale, the clientele ranged from families to teenagers (some kind of high school formal appeared to be happening) to couples. Nobody looked out of place and the staff made me at least feel very welcome.

Ordering
Kevin, an older-than-your-typical-college-or-high-school-age server, arrived almost immediately to take our drink orders. None of our group drink alcohol so I can't give any insights there, though I saw many colorful bottles in what appeared to be a well stocked bar.

I didn't know much about my in-laws tastes but when I asked how they felt about the pan-fried oysters the reaction made me decide to play it safe and go for the Idaho Jo-Jos and the Artichoke dip.

The Jo-Jos are long potato wedges lightly fried and seasoned and served with a pink sauce (my preference) which had horseradish, mayonnaisse and ketchup/tomato sauce and probably more but that's what I could identify. The white dip which my wife preferred was a light bleu cheese sauce served hot. The potatoes were well prepared and cooked just right.

The Artichoke dip was deeeelightful, one of the best I've had. Creamy and sharp with a subtle undertone of white wine and garlic and served with thin slices of toasted bread. I wish I'd paid more attention to the details but you won't regret ordering this.

Meanwhile most of the table was struggling to decide what to order. The menu is simple, only one page, but everything looks good. Kevin helped by routing servers to other tables past us so we could see the dishes. We finally settled on Mac & Cheese for the little one (they do have a children's menu but the mac & cheese is on the grown-ups menu also), Bistro Chicken, the catch of the day (snapper), a Black Angus flat-iron steak and I ordered one of the specials a 2lb. Cowboy Ribeye with bleu cheese.

Dinner arrived shortly after the appetizer plates were cleared and everything was nicely presented. All of the dishes came out together and were hot and perfectly prepared.

Dinner
The Catch-of-the-Day was snapper served with a tomato caper sauce over mashed potatoes and served with green beans. This was not my favorite, but frankly I have never loved snapper my wife who does was very happy with the dish. She also ordered the pear salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts which was excellent.

I ordered the cowboy ribeye and unsurprisingly I had trouble finishing it. Surprisingly though I almost did, despite the fact that the largest steak I've ever eaten was only a bit more than half that size.

I have to take a moment to describe what an ideal steak looks like to me so you can understand why I was so pleased with this particular steak. The ideal steak is a perfect blend of taste and texture and appearance. Graduating from a buttery-warm softness at the center to a seared-to-the-point-of-crisp exterior. The sear shouldn't look 'burnt' too much black here is a turn-off. Finally, the beef is the star of the show. A steak should taste like beef and every other ingredient should only accentuate the beefiness not overpower or jockey for flavor center stage.

I was very happy with my steak, nothing unique here if you've been to some of the nicer steak places (Mortons, Ruth's Chris) but very nice.

My brother-in-law ordered the flat-iron steak but I didn't try it (he prefers well done). He did seem very pleased with it however.

The mac & cheese tasted healthy, please don't perceive that as a pejorative. I really liked the nutty earthy flavor that the whole wheat pasta brought to the dish. The cheeses were well balanced and it was cooked just right to give those oh-so yummy crispy edges.

Finally, the star dish and the universally agreed upon winner of the night was the Bistro Chicken. Wild mushrooms, and a bourbon cream sauce made this dish go down nicely. The appeal ranged all the way from the 4 year old to me from the adventurous to the less adventurous.

Dessert
We ordered three desserts for the table; cheesecake with caramel & chocolate sauce, a white chocolate bread pudding and something off-menu called "The Brick"

The cheesecake was a simple preparation, and the sauces were on the plate, more of an accent really. The strawberries on top were very fresh and sweet. No disappointment here.

I could live on the bread pudding alone. One thing I hate is when bread pudding is too sweet or polluted with raisins. No issues here, very creamy, and sweet but balanced nicely.

I don't remember the details of the Brick well enough to describe it all, but generally it had a shortbread base with a layer of nut and caramel topped by I think chocolate mousse? then banana's foster and finally whipped cream. this is cut in a rectangle which is then bolstered by four thin walls of frozen ganache. A very rich dessert, and very popular at our table.

Epilogue
A note here on my preferences. It's a treat to see over-the-top fancy presentations on occasion, but frankly I like, that at Brick 29, I didn't have to wonder about the architectural elements or brightly colored sauces that serve no purpose but to add drama to the plate. Everything on the plates belonged there and was easily identifiable. This is a real home-grown restaurant that just happens to care very much about the quality of their food. The chef, Dustan Bristol, himself is homegrown and the restaurant is a great reflection of his personality.

As we were finishing our meals we ended up chatting for a few minutes. Dustin was young and unassuming, very likable. He was very interested to hear what we thought of our dinner experience and gracious with his time.

This will absolutely not be our last visit to Brick 29. In fact as we were leaving my sister-in-law asked if we could make this a tradition whenever we come to visit. I'm afraid they may get tired of us, but I know we won't get tired of Brick 29.

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Brick 29
320 11th Ave S Ste 100, Nampa, ID 83651

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