Eighteen One 

After a recent lunch at Eighteen One, as my dining companion and I made our way down the back stairs of the clubhouse, I only had one thing to say: "I feel like I've been dipped in grease on the inside."

Lunch had not been kind to us. It started with the water-spotted silverware, which, as I explained to my annoyed dining companion, was only a sign of lazy polishing on the servers' part. Then a sweatshirt-clad server arrived with water glasses and explained that menu items with lettuce were unavailable for the day. Sorry, no salad. I glanced around the empty dining room and then at the clock; just after noon, no lunch rush, no lettuce and two grocery stores within a mile? Strike two.

The meal that followed was exactly the sort of thing a couple of back-slapping golf buddies would enjoy before hitting the links, which means it was exactly what a couple of ladies hoping for a light lunch wanted none of. A starter of Chicken Hangover Tacos ($7) was mildly satisfying, though neither cubed chicken nor cabbage slaw gave any hint of heat despite their chili seasoning. But worse was the puddle of oil left on our plates thanks to the steady drip from melted cheddar cheese on the lightly fried corn tortilla. With the Irish Cowboy sandwich ($9.50), it got worse. What was sold as shaved prime rib, horseradish ranch and melted cheddar topped with fried onion straws arrived as pulverized meat soaked in a Cheez Whiz-like sauce, all of which was soaking into the bottom of ciabatta bun so quickly, we scraped off the onions straws, ate them like fries and picked at the salty sandwich with our forks for a few bites before giving up. Strike three.

A few days later, it was left to Sunday brunch to redeem Eighteen One. And at the risk of mixing sports metaphors, I'll happily say that the restaurant birdied. Apple sage sausage patties ($4.50) were handpressed, lean and heavy on the apple. Equally impressively executed were the light-as-a-feather, air-puffed biscuits beneath an unbreakable yet richly delicate cream gravy ($2.50). Swedish hash browns ($2.50) were a naughty yet quite nice casserole of potatoes baked with cheese and a healthy portion of poppy seeds. However, one dish in particular stole the show: the Monte Cristo Bread Pudding ($12.75), a deconstructed/reconstructed version of the cheesy, sugared and jam-smothered faux-French sandwich. Two thin slabs of bread pudding--each with turkey and ham baked into them--sat stacked in a pool of sweet, homemade strawberry sauce. Like an "X" marking the spot on top were two flat strips of grilled brie and for flare, two oval sage leaves shooting from the top of the dish like feathers. Visually, the dish was stunning. In the mouth, it was sweet and savory from bottom to top. But more importantly, the dish proved to me that despite lunch, Eighteen One deserves to be on the short list for destination food.

--Rachael Daigle keeps only short lists.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Eighteen One.

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