After much rescheduling and going through the list of alternate lunch buddies, my friend and I finally made the trip to the Sandbar in Marsing. Nestled alongside the Snake River, the Sandbar offers a mix of aptly named, locally inspired cuisine and neighborhood restaurant standards. The drive allows time for conversation and the relaxed atmosphere of the patio overlooking the river provides an ideal setting for more talk.
Our hostess greeted and seated us promptly, proffered ice water and house croutons, which she suggested were as addictive as potato chips, and invited us to peruse the lunch menu. The croutons were delicately seasoned, perfectly crunchy and full of buttery goodness. Word-of-mouth required we start with an appetizer of frog legs, despite my friend's reservations. Pan-fried in a lightly spiced batter (was that paprika?), the frog legs were enjoyable. The texture reminded me of a firm fish, but they did certainly "taste like chicken." I discovered that I'm a thigh man as opposed to a calf man. Who knew? The Sandbar's fixture condiment is sweet and hot mustard, and it pairs well with most menu options, including the frog legs. In addition to the frog legs, we ordered the Sandbar soup, a partially pureed beef and vegetable stew. Delicious alone, it also a welcome home for the croutons.
The lunch special consisted of a chicken-fried chicken sandwich with house steak fries, which I had no qualms ordering. My friend chose the fish and chips. Nothing quite matches cold beer on a warm day with good food and good company, and the Sandbar has an adequate beer selection. However, their wine list shines with selections from local and visible-from-our-table vineyards. Our meals arrived in perfect sequence following the soup and legs. The chicken-fried chicken dwarfed the bun upon which it was served--in retrospect, I have reason to believe that it was bigger than my hand and only slightly smaller than my face. The steak fries were mammoth, leaving no doubt as to their proud state origins. I would have preferred them a bit crispier, but they were tasty nonetheless. The fish, a nicely battered slab of halibut, possessed a subtle sweetness, accentuated by accompanying twists of orange and lemon. Mayo unfortunately dominated the tartar sauce, but what can you do? Save room for dessert.
For dessert, we split a healthy portion of homemade blueberry peach pie with ice cream. The rich, frozen vanilla goodness melted over the freshly baked pie, and I left a happy man.
--Matt Gelsthorp is a frog thigh man.