Tablerock Brewpub and Grill 

Anyone who has ever tried a liquid diet knows you can make a meal out of fermented barley and hops. But at Tablerock Brewpub and Grill the solid food is every bit as good as the hand-crafted beer. After nearly 20 years of brewing in the Treasure Valley, it's easy to forget a spot quietly lurking on the southern edge of downtown Boise. But winter is the time to remember: The cavernous space fills quickly in the evening, creating unexpected warmth enhanced by wide-open taps and a bustling kitchen.

Seeking low-stress parking on a chilly weekend date-night, my husband and I reacquainted ourselves with Tablerock like it was an old friend. Burgers and sandwiches are the staples of American brewpubs, but Tablerock also dishes up fare you might find in a pub across the ocean--and I'm not talking just about England. We started with an edamame app ($5.99) as a healthy alternative to fries and onion rings. The salty crunch and fibrous chew paired well with the specially brewed holiday seasonal ale ($4 pint). After salivating at the thought of bangers and mashers ($8.99) vs. fish and chips ($11.99), my husband ordered shepherd's pie ($8.99) in his finest Irish brogue. I veered toward the more eclectic belly-warmers on the menu, finally settling on the seafood jambalaya ($11.99).

Thanks to cold storage technology and expedited shipping, I no longer eschew seafood in a landlocked state. My entree featured tiger shrimp and Alaskan cod surfing on a bed of rice, their mellow flavor dueling with the heat of andouille sausage. Frequent sips of Nut Brown Ale ($4 pint) chased the zing and quenched my thirst. Delicious as the jambalaya was, hubby's shepherd's pie upstaged everything else on the table. A scene-stealing moat of beef stew surrounded a mound of cheesy mashed potatoes that was a meal in itself, with rich flavors of burgundy.

A friend and I made another evening visit when we were still reeling from a post-Thanksgiving food coma. Thinking I might negate the over-indulgences of the holiday, I chose the Bistro Steak Salad ($9.99) from among many lettuce-laden options. My good intentions paved the road to more gluttony, as a giant platter of lettuce was compressed under the weight of four strips of grilled marinated flank steak (each the size of my palm), white beans, bleu cheese crumbles and roasted red peppers. Although I had asked for the balsamic vinaigrette on the side, the salad swam in its tang, our server having forgotten my request. My buddy opted for the roasted red pepper turkey burger ($8.99), which she described as "almost like pizza on a bun" with melted swiss dripping out of the ciabatta mitt. She, too, was irritated that her request for no mayo had not been honored, but conceded that the burger was still well-worth eating. We shared a side order of crisp fries ($4.99), which put us back over the edge of satiety.

Whether you're in need of a winter warmer or a summer sipper, Tablerock has what it takes--you just have to remember it's there.

--Sarah Barber is a serious sipper.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Tablerock Brewpub and Grill.

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