The Boise restaurant scene has been "devolving" for some time, but there are still some spots well worth trying if you haven't already.
The hidden surprise is Restaurant Eighteen 1 at Eagle Hills Golf Course http://www.eaglehillsgolfcourse.com/E.... Tucked away in that unlikely clubhouse is Chef Aaron Horsewood, who used to be a chef to the stars, including Bill Cosby and Stevie Nicks PLUS he was a sous chef on the Iron Chef America TV show. He's enormously talented and creative and the plate presentation is gorgeous. The most economical way to try his food is at Sunday brunch, which is reasonably priced and excellent.
La Belle Vie, in Nampa http://labellevienampa.com/ (an irony that many Boiseans now need to drive to Nampa for good food at Brick 29, Copper Canyon, and La Belle Vie). It's even on the Boise Weekly Card so if you have one you're dining at 40% off. Cute renovated house with small but intriguing menu and well-priced wines from a small listing.
The steaks at Castle Ranch Steakhouse are amazing. I think they're still using Double R Ranch--and while the decor and setting in the now-called Boise Hotel and Convention Center (formerly the Holiday Inn by the airport) is nothing to write home about--the steak, the fresh-cut fries, the huge baked potato (much fresher and better than at Chandler's where more than once I was served a small, somewhat shriveled baker that had clearly been refrigerated and reheated with that orange line near the cut jagged edge and that weird "cooler smell." The wine list at Castle Ranch definitely needs work as it seemed the wine distributor was dumping old vintages on the new restaurant but we talked to the manager about it and perhaps that's been remedied.
AND rounding out the collage of dining suggestions is the new Brickyard http://www.oldboise.com/r_pair.html at 6th and Main in downtown Boise. Located just below the Reef--this is a gorgeous, understated yet classy place with Old World almost formal service with assistant waiters helping out each table's official waiter. The drink menu is creative and extensive with descriptions harkening back to the history of each drink from an earlier era. As long as you go before 9 or whenever the obnoxious dueling pianos start--your meal with be accompanied by unobtrusive, lovely piano music from a single piano. The presentation and service have a rare vintage, restrained feel. Definitely recommend it. Later--with the dueling pianos and possibly music from a live band from The Reef upstairs (which is owned by the same people)--the clientele and ambiance change a bit. We were amazed that a heavily tattooed couple came in just before 9 p.m. and the gal put her bare feet up on the chair across from her right next to people eating fine food. Perhaps the management team has been able to get the dress code a bit standardized for the crowd the dueling pianos bring in though as this is the fourth or fifth place that has tried them and it always fails--hope they end up doing away with the duel and keep just one. An interactive dueling piano schtick just doesn't go well with rib eye...
Copper Canyon Restaurant
113 13th Ave S, Nampa, ID 83651
Restaurant Eighteen 1 at Eagle Hills Golf Course
605 N Edgewood Ln, Eagle, ID 83616
La Belle Vie Restaurant
220 14th Ave S, Nampa, ID 83651