13th Street Pub and Grill 

Aside from sheer convenience of location, positive memories determine a return visit to a restaurant for many of us. A particularly memorable dish sticks with us and begs our return. Or sometimes, it's the negative memory of service or a dish or even circumstances that have nothing to do with the restaurant that keep us from going back.

After writing a rather nasty review of 13th Street Pub and Grill's predecessor about a year ago, I returned a few times--out of sheer convenience--until the restaurant closed. It was the only place to get a cocktail and a proper meal within walking distance of my house. There was, however, nothing particularly memorable on that menu. With the opening of 13th Street Pub and Grill, I hoped for more.

A recent remodel stripped down the inside and replaced carpet and plush chairs with dark wood everywhere--the tables, the floors. In the bar, where a decent Monday Night Football crowd recently gathered to take in the game on several flat screens, the "pub" part of "pub and grill" won hands down. The patio, as has always been the case at this location, is where it's at in the warmer months, but if 13th Street Pub and Grill hopes to capture that crowd year round, the dining room desperately needs a designer's touch to rid the place of the echoey, sterile, cafeteria feel it currently wears.

As for the food, I'd rate it about the same as the bar-patio-dining room combination. It gets two out of three with the understanding that I'm satisfied but still expecting better.

A starter of brie en croute ($7.95) with a lightly jalapenoed apricot chutney passed muster handily, especially for the soft focaccia as a base. A steak salad ($10.95) with polenta croutons, Double R beef, roma tomatoes, green apples and a gorgonzola aioli was a bowl of ingredients that played nicely together, though it lacked the overall cohesiveness that a truly successful entree salad brings to the table. The hands-down favorite of the night was a beef grinder ($9.95) on a giant, fluffy loaf with roasted red peppers, onions and mushrooms, and a solid dose of thinly sliced beef. The sandwich was far too large for even a healthy appetite, and the server racked up a few bonus points for an unsolicited side of to-go au jus with the leftovers. The night's disappointment rested squarely on a rack of lamb ($19.95) and earthy, vinegary beans. Though it looked like a beautiful fall dish, the lamb itself didn't have the flavor chutzpah to stand up against the overpowering tang of the beans.

A few days after our visit, a friend asked what I'd thought about the food. I paused before I answered, trying to remember what we'd eaten. I may not have found that one stand-out dish on 13th Street Pub and Grill's menu just yet, the one that'll keep me coming back. But I'm willing to keep trying.

--Rachael Daigle relies on her memory to, uh, let's see, um, something that starts with an E ...

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about 13th Street Pub and Grill.

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