Jerry's State Court Cafe 

Take a sagging, cramped greasy spoon whose utter lack of curb appeal drove off more customers than it attracted. Knock it down and start over again in a sturdy and spacious joint with a fireplace. What you might expect is a congratulatory response--unless you're the new Jerry's State Court Cafe, which has received a lukewarm welcoming since its reopening on Fairview Avenue. The old Jerry's--with its turquoise blue and banana yellow checkered floors--had a makeshift feel to it, with one fixture of a waitress endlessly herding plates to and fro. It was the kind of place you went out of novelty and the need to stretch a buck.

The new Jerry's lacks the patina that lent the former dive its character. Though the trade up in physical space may be at the expense of what some generously refer to as charm, it gives the eatery a dignity it never seemed to have.

Dinner is a new addition to the Fairview regimen and specials like ham hocks with baked beans, and liver with onions clearly pander to the diner demographic. Regardless, the outcome is pleasantly functional. Tomato basil soup arrived blistering hot in a well-flavored creamy scarlet broth. A dense bowl of salad measured up fine against scrutiny: Greens were a nice variety and rust-free, tomatoes and cucumbers were fresh and chilled, and the bleu cheese dressing turned up hefty chunks of bleu. Though an entree of filet mignon medallions ($15.95) might not rank among the best in town, both cuts yielded bright-pink medium centers and a tenderness under the knife.

I examined the scene: real chopped bacon on the potato, a warm crusty sourdough roll served in white linen, and a doily beneath my carafe of hot water. Dessert was a slice of fluffy chocolate cream pie ($3.25), freshly whipped from top to bottom and dusted with cocoa. In all, dinner was decent diner food and the service was excellent. Still, I steeled myself for a morning return.

Once again, the service was spot on. Though the coffee at Jerry's is neither great nor strong, my cup never hit a halfway point thanks to an attentive server. Hashbrowns, which I find increasingly undercooked just about everywhere, were crunchy and the color their name appropriately suggests. The chicken-fried steak ($8.95) was standard food-service variety, pancakes ($2.50) were annoyingly more springy than spongy, and while the biscuits were pillow soft under a smooth coat of country gravy, the gravy could have used a heftier sausage injection. The potato pancakes ($5.95)--two flapjacks with savory hashbrowns, cheese, green onions and bacon smashed into the underside--were the most puzzling and pleasing element of the whole meal.

Yes, the old Jerry's State Court Cafe is long gone. But I've decided that may not be such a bad thing after all.

Rachael Daigle has greasy spoons hanging on her kitchen wall.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Jerry's State Court Cafe.

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