Lock, Stock & Barrel 

1100 W. Jefferson, 208-336-4266. Open for dinner Sun. 4 p.m.-9 p.m., Mon. 5 p.m.-9 p.m., Tues.-Sat. 5 p.m.-10 p.m.. Bar opens at 4 p.m. daily.

The trouble with going to a restaurant that has been around so many decades that it's practically a Boise landmark, is it's difficult to stay objective and not be swayed by reputation. For Lock Stock & Barrel, I drew a line down the middle of a piece of paper and wrote pros and cons on either side. My dining companions added in their two cents, and by the end of our meal we were all happy to find there were far more positives than negatives recorded.

My husband and I visited Lock Stock on a Sunday evening with friends. We were in good spirits that evening, and our environment had a great deal to do with that. The interior hasn't changed since the restaurant's move to the corner of 11th and Jefferson in 2002. It's a big space with a casual, comfortable vibe. The bathrooms could use a makeover, and the overall aesthetic of the place isn't going to be confused with the more youthful poshness of some downtown establishments. However, there is something refreshing about the earnest, simple surroundings. There are no pretentious airs and what a great thing for a steakhouse.

Lock Stock threw one great item after another at me: an expansive, reasonably priced wine list, amazing sourdough rolls that were nice and crusty outside and doughy soft on the inside, and a menu that had us politely sending the waitress away again and again because we couldn't make up our minds.

We decided to order appetizers to milk some time to peruse the menu. We ordered bacon wrapped sea scallops ($9.99) and Louisiana crab cakes ($8.99). Both choices were good; however, I was especially pleased to find the crab cakes were loaded with crab meat and weren't overly breaded. I really liked the cumin tartar sauce served on the side.

After a few beers for the fellows and a nice, hearty glass of Yalumba Barossa Shiraz ($7.50) for me, we ordered the special: two 8-ounce cuts of prime rib ($29.99), beer-marinated chicken breast ($15.99) and a smoked mozzarella-stuffed filet ($27.99). All our dishes came in delightfully huge portions.

One of the things I like best about a good steakhouse is that they load you up on options. Lock Stock offers entrees with a choice of salad bar or three side salads, as well as eight potato, rice or vegetable dishes. We all ordered the salad bar, three of us loaded baked potatoes and one opted for parmesan au gratin potatoes. I lamented not choosing the horseradish mashed potatoes or the steamed broccoli with hollandaise, choices that were more interesting than my baked potato.

I noticed some inconsistency with seasoning. The bacon-wrapped scallops and beer-marinated chicken were on the cusp of being overly salted, while the smoked mozzarella stuffed filet needed several shakes of salt added.

But the meat was outstanding. Each of our cuts of were cooked correctly and were flavorful and tender. The beef and vegetable soup on the salad bar was better than just homemade; it was the embodiment of comfort cooking contained in a soup crock.

After dinner, we sat and visited for more than an hour, basking in the afterglow of our good meals. We were eager to try desserts, but all our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we opted to visit again to add the extra course. Our friendly waitress was still attentive, even after we'd paid the bill. There might have been a tiny margin for improvement, but for the most part, Lock Stock & Barrel had a whole lot of food goodness going on.

—Rachel Abrahamson believes it takes a bit of magic and science to cook a good cut of meat perfectly.

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