Le Poulet Rouge 

On one plate ...

There is something about homemade soups, salads and sandwiches that has always appealed to me, and I have spent many years searching the greater Boise area to find a restaurant that could live up to the standards set by such a place in my original hometown. Le Poulet Rouge may be that place.

I knew as I walked in the door that I had found, at the very least, a place to which I already wanted to return. My eyes were drawn immediately to displays of food arranged in the glass cases that double as the ordering counter. I believe people like to see the food they are about to order; they'll crane their necks at a restaurant to catch a glimpse of plates on the trays of passing servers to ensure that what they crave looks as it should. Here, you can browse the menu, hung in panels high above the cases, or you can feast your eyes upon the dishes before you, allowing your skilled senses to determine which item would best suit your cravings. A bonus for the business: Showing the consumer the desserts almost guarantees a sale.

I wanted to order almost every item, so I waited to see what appealed to my partner in crime first. The potato-crusted quiche, placed at eye level, was unavoidable. It was offered with a side salad, which she had not foreseen. Once again, having the opportunity to view the choices artfully laid before her enhanced the experience much more than a server mechanically mumbling, "House, caesar or cole slaw?"

She chose the Neapolitan, a mixture of feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumbers and bell peppers. I was immediately envious of her entire order. A firm believer in going with your first instinct, however, I ordered the tuna artichoke sandwich with provolone on kalamata olive bread. I couldn't resist the hand-written menu of smoothies and threw in an orange cream one. It was going to be over 100 degrees that day, after all.

As the cashier totaled the order, the words "corn chowder with jalapeno cream," were spoken within earshot, and I added a cup of that, too. Did I mention that it was over 100 degrees? The food was all exactly as we expected. The server did forget the lemonade my friend ordered, and I decided I don't like kalamata olives in the bread, but beyond these small things, I was pleased. The menu encompasses a wide range of choices that should satisfy even finicky diners, and daily specials keep the menu fresh for regulars.

-Joline Boyett Armuth believes in love at first sight-bite.

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