January 8, 2013

The Griddle (Review)

Another blog, another restaurant review.  Another BREAKFAST review, no less.  But don't worry; I haven't forgotten about cooking.  I just didn't take my camera into the kitchen much over the holidays.  I'll let bigger fish in the blogging sea tell you how to make candy cane pancakes or eggnog creme brulee.  I spent a good long time just enjoying being with my family, and as a result hardly logged on to the computer at all.  One of my New Year's resolutions was to treat Catfish's Dishes more like a real job, but I couldn't justify working over the holidays when everyone was together at last.
Luckily for those of you who live in the Boise area, breakfast was good.  Actually, nearly argument starting good.  The restaurant in question is The Griddle (404 E. Parkcenter Blvd, Boise, ID 83706, (208) 297-7615), a little diner based out of Winnemucca, NV.  Like Los Betos, the fact that they are not technically a Boise restaurant made me waver on whether or not they should be reviewed by Catfish's Dishes, but after seeing that they only had four locations, and that three of them were in Idaho, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The Griddle on Urbanspoon
We arrived for breakfast at about eleven in the morning on the Sunday before everybody had to return to work, with the thought that breakfast out would allow us to ease back into our normal routines.  After seeing that it was a seat-yourself kind of place, we found a table and began to check out the funky decor.  Along the walls were shelves with antiquated kitchen equipment and old school cooking products.
I really liked the look of this place.  There were large pastry cases showing off the restaurant's many sumptuous-looking cakes and breakfast treats.  The large crowd of diners--despite the relative newness of The Griddle (they've only been at this location since November)--mostly seemed to be regulars.  It was nice.  

Then we waited.  And waited some more.  We waited ten minutes without being offered so much as a coffee when we had to get a waitress' attention.  Soon, a flustered teen came to take our drink orders.  He was new to working at The Griddle, and if his deer-in-the-headlights look was telling the truth, new to the service industry in general.  Luckily for everyone involved, we'd scouted their menu online (in fact, chose them because of this menu) and we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, although Boy was a bit petulant that--despite letting the kids order off of the adult menu--we wouldn't let him order the Crab Cake Benedict.  

What he did get was the savory crepe.  Bacon, eggs, onions, mushrooms, peppers and cheese filled a rather large crepe topped with hollandaise.  He got hashbrowns on the side, and hot chocolate that--wonder of wonders--wasn't from a packet.  Of all the things we ordered, I found his crepe to be the least spectacular.  There was nothing wrong with it, apart from being a titch dull, it just didn't have the pizzazz of everything else we ordered.  The crepe was a little too thick and didn't have flavor of its own, and ended up being a protective barrier to what was otherwise just an omelette.  

Better was Girl's choice of the egg tostadas.  A light, limey guacamole and chipotle black beans topped three tostadas along with her eggs, which she'd had scrambled.  I could debate whether these constituted a tostada, as the tortillas were only cooked until they were soft, not crisp, but this ended up being a relatively mild sin as the other components brought so much flavor.  So much that Girl scrunched up her nose as the adults angled for a taste of her food.  "It's for the blog," I implored, and stole a bite anyway.  

But if Boy's food was adequate, and Girl's good, my plate is where The Griddle really began flexing it's muscles.  Technically, Wife and I split plates, but "mine" in this sense is the item I picked--the Chorizo Benedict.  There was still a slight technical flub; the poached eggs were much nearer to cooked eggs.  But as soon as a bit of the buttery chipotle hollandaise hit my flavor receptors, I didn't care.  This rich, luxurious sauce mingled with the dripping chorizo fat and saturated the entire English muffin.  I scraped every bit off of my corner of the plate--had I not had the children around to set an example for, I might have even licked it.  I was tempted to renege on our deal to split meals, that's how much I adored this sauce.  It's been over a week since we dined at The Griddle, and there have been three or four things--at each meal of the day--that I've wished I could top with this hollandaise. 
With that much hyperbole piled on, you'd be inclined to think that the Chorizo Benedict was the best thing I'd eaten that morning, but you'd be wrong.  Perhaps the thing I'm most likely to order again, (I tend to swing towards the savory end of the breakfast spectrum) but not the best.  

That honor goes to Rosie's French Toast.  I don't know who this anecdotal Rosie is, but whoever came up with the idea of using croissant as a base for French toast is a genius.  Rather than the uniform texture you get when you cook bread using this method, the croissant is crispy on the edges, unbelievably smooth in the center.  Coupled with butter and good maple syrup, this felt more like desert than breakfast.  
It was almost as if the flavor and texture profiles of French toast and fry bread had been married.  Rhonda's French Toast was late to the party--new waiter had dropped the first one in the kitchen--but rather than be irritated, each bite we took made us laugh, smile, want to call someone and tell them to come join us.  

So here's the deal--The Griddle definitely had some kinks, mostly with the waiter but also with the kitchen's ability to poach an egg or cook three tortillas to the same doneness.  You could look at this review and decide that eating there wasn't worth the hassle.  But you'd be mistaken.  I'm almost certain that these issues are due to the fact that the Parkcenter restaurant has only been open two months.  If you went to Eagle or Meridian or Winnemucca, these sorts of things would be worked out.  The menu is worth it alone.  In addition to the items we tried, there are so many items I'm eager to go back for: chicken confit with apple hashbrowns, pecan crusted French toast with bacon caramel, the aforementioned Crab Cake Benedict.  I still feel the Egg Factory is the best breakfast in Boise. (Although Wife's dissenting opinion is the argument I alluded to earlier.  She enjoyed Rosie's French Toast to the point I'm tempted to be pretentious and say that she found it "revelatory.")  That being said, if The Griddle can smooth out the creases, I think it presents serious competition.  

1 comment:

  1. I've been to the Griddle in Meridian and it was pretty awesome. I had the Eggs Benedict which was amazing!