Brixx Craft House Brings Upscale Pub Food to State Street 

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Lex Nelson

The menu at Brixx Craft House may look familiar to diners who frequent downtown Boise's classier burger-and-brew joints: Kobe beef sliders, egg-topped burgers, hand-cut fries and street tacos are all there for the ordering, paired with a wide range of beers. The selection may be tried and true downtown, but it's a bit out of the norm for the Garden City area, where Brixx opened its doors in early June.

Located just on the Boise side of the Garden City line at 7700 W. State St., Brixx took the place of the quickly defunct Native Grill and Wings. The spot is clearly still a sports bar, but the transition 
click to enlarge LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
amped up both the space (its decor now recalls a European gastropub) and the menu.

The dishes at Brixx were all beautifully presented. The soft pretzel bites ($7), served with beer-infused cheese and whole-grain mustard for dipping, were a mouthwatering shade of golden brown; the Kobe sliders ($11) were served on buns perfectly toasted and generously fleeced with arugula; the grilled cheese ($10) sported a crisp crust of seared Gouda; and even the side salads brimmed with color from red tomatoes, magenta pickled onions and orange curls of cheddar. Yet it sometimes seemed too much attention was paid to aesthetics and not enough to flavor.

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  • Lex Nelson
The macaroni and cheese ($14), topped with bread crumbs and a side of barbecue sauce-smothered chicken, was a case in point. Though the pasta and chicken were well-cooked (a major source of brownie points, as both can easily go wrong), the taste was heavy on cream, with hardly any cheese flavor.

The sliders were similarly one-note. The blue cheese  was mild enough to vanish under the flavor of the meat, and the arugula's signature bitterness was left without a counterpoint. A touch of mustard or a double-dose of pickled onions would have taken the dish up a notch, though adding the slices of house-pickled cucumber, provided as garnish on the plate, helped.

There were some exceptions, however: notably the sourdough grilled cheese, and the stunner of an elk burger tried during a second visit. Again, the addition of the cucumber upped the flavor contrast of the sandwich, but its salty-sweet combination of Gouda cheese, bacon and bacon jam, and 
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  • Lex Nelson
thin-sliced grilled apples was more than satisfying on its own. The elk burger, ordered medium, also shone for its juicy center, crisp edges and mildly sweet skirt of butter lettuce.

Unfortunately though, those successes were undercut by dessert—an apple crisp that featured undercooked apples which, along with their caramel sauce, were stained black as squid ink pasta by the bottom of the skillet they were served in. 
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