I first heard of Eureka! last year, when it was announced that they'd be opening a location in downtown Boise. Downtown probably needs another burger joint like, well, like I need to eat more burgers. Still, they do have a burger featuring bone marrow, and a selection of small batch whiskeys. It's pretty safe to say I was intrigued. Now I don't seek out freebies. I don't contact restaurants or PR firms and hint that I'd like to be able to access a place early, or for free, or whatever. Still, sometimes these people contact me, and I was kind of hoping that would happen in this case, simply because I expected them to be annoyingly busy when they first opened and knew I would likely wait a few weeks or even a couple of months before I finally got around to trying them. A few weeks back, I signed into my email to see a message from Eureka!'s PR awaiting me, but it turned out to just be an opening date, a press release, and an offer of high res photographs. You know, just in case I wanted to give them a little free advertising. Now if you've been reading my stuff for a while, you'll know this is a pet peeve of mine. I don't just post other people's words and pictures. Still, I wanted to check them out eventually, and I figured I'd just post my own words and pictures when I got around to it. I mean maybe they weren't even going to have a soft opening.
Nope. They did indeed have a soft opening, and yours truly scored an invite, albeit in a completely unprecedented and unexpected way...
Tuns out it's not only friends, family, and small-time bloggers who score invites to soft openings. Sometimes vendors do as well, and guess who has a brother who works for one of Eureka!'s suppliers? I've never been someone else's "plus one" before, but I was more than happy to tag along (even though it would mean missing a chunk of the Idaho Horror Film Festival).
We showed up Saturday afternoon during the Capital City Public Market. It was a nice day out and their patio faces 8th Street just north of Idaho Street, so we decided to sit outside. It became clear pretty quickly that we would need some time to look at the menu, and we decided to order beers to start because menu-scouring is thirsty work.
Little brother chose the Barrel Aged Mountain Man from Payette Brewing, which he seemed happy enough with (he's more of a beer guy than I am).
Meanwhile, I was very happy with my Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star from Seattle's Freemont Brewing, which one should be when paying eleven bucks for a few ounces (I believe it was nine oz.) of beer. It's sweet yet stout, starts off tasting like beer and finishes tasting of whiskey, and it's something I would order or buy and just generally seek out were it not an "extremely limited" brew. Too bad. It's delicious, and that 14.5% ABV doesn't hurt, either.
We started off with the Osso Buco Riblets, which are little bone-in pork nuggets braised in sherry and then tossed with a firecracker aioli. Personally, I would have liked a little more fire in my firecracker aioli, but the flavor was very good and the meat literally fell off the bone with the slightest prodding of my fork. It's priced a little higher than I would like for what you get, but I might order it again if I happened to be there during happy hour.
For the main event, my brother picked the Jalapeño Egg Burger (fried egg, cheddar, bacon, pickled jalapeños, and chipotle sauce). Burgers come with their signature handcut fries, or you can upgrade your side for a little extra money. The fries were decent, if not particularly memorable, but considering how many places serve terrible fries around here, I'll happily take decent ones. Bonus points for using actual cheese on the burger, and for asking how he wanted his egg cooked. Bonus points to my brother for ordering sunny side up even though he would have preferred over easy, just because I said it would make for a better picture. If I remember correctly, he said that the burger was like getting a very long massage from someone really strong, at the end of which they punched him in the stomach...but in a good way.
I kind of assumed the Bone Marrow Burger wouldn't be on offer for one of two reasons, either because 1) it was a premium, significantly more expensive item, or 2) because it would already be sold out for the day because it's also a limited item. I was correct (it was the second one), but luckily I already had a backup plan. The Fresno Fig Burger (fig marmalade, bacon, tomato, red onion, arugula, melted goat cheese, and spicy porter mustard) combined several things I already knew I liked together: figs, goat cheese, and arugula. This was my first time trying them on a burger. Interestingly enough, the tomato and onion were chopped rather than sliced, and tossed in the mustard sauce. As different as the flavor profiles were, our burgers had more in common than just the amazingly juicy and perfectly cooked grass-fed patty and the generous amount of bacon. In both cases, the components were chosen and arranged in such a way that the flavors were layered rather than just combining into one indistinguishable thing. In the case of mine, the first thing you tasted was the sweetness of the fig spread, because it was on both sides of the bun. Next you got that delicious beef and those tangy veggies, and finally the salty, smokey bacon and the funkiness of the goat cheese. It was a symphony on a bun. I also chose to upgrade my side to the panko-breaded onion rings. Yes, I know there are only a few of them there, and some people might balk at the premium price for the upgrade (which is admittedly a little severe), but for my fellow onion ring lovers let me just say that these are worthwhile. The panko makes them nice and crispy without being overly greasy, the onion slices were thick but cooked through all the way, and of course there was the obligatory zesty ranch sauce for dipping.
So there we were. Stuffed, happy, the Market winding down and the street beginning to clear up. We decided to have another drink for...dessert? Whatever. My brother had been craving a Bloody Mary this whole time, so he ordered one.
Gonna be totally honest with you here. They charge ten bucks for this, and it's not worth it. It's a pretty standard Bloody from what I could tell, and the seasoning blend was nothing special. If you have to have one of these, come in on the weekend when they're half price.
As for me, I was actually kind of serious about the dessert cocktail thing, and since their house bourbon is actually good (Buffalo Trace), I decided to finally try a Mint Julep. I didn't like it. Even for a dessert, it was too damn sweet. Minty though. I would have liked the bourbon component to be stronger, but that might be a personal taste thing, since I've never had one of these before and have nothing to compare it to.
So there you have it. Not everyone is into craft alcohol and high-end, high-concept burgers, but I am. If you are as well, the Boise branch of Eureka! is now open to the public.