The Blue Moose Cafe 

It's easy to forget the simple joys in life: a cool breeze on a summer day or a thank you note in the mail. In the case of Eagle's Blue Moose Cafe, that simple joy is an unhurried lunch in a relaxed atmosphere with familiar, yet creative fare.

The Blue Moose has been an Eagle lunch staple for years, and when it comes to casual summertime dining, it's hard to beat. The Blue Moose exudes a laid-back vibe with a set of moose antlers splashed with blue paint mounted to the front of the converted house that is home to the eatery. A mishmash of outdoor tables and umbrellas fill the front and side yards. Inside, customers line up at a long counter, and a small wine bar sits diagonally across, in another corner. A window-lined addition to the house provides the majority of seating, and in the summer, a battalion of ceiling fans keep diners cool.

Regardless of the temperature, though, no one seems to be in much of a hurry.

The menu is filled with an assortment of sandwiches, wraps and salads that range from a relatively basic club sandwich to more tempting concoctions of creative ingredients.

The Catalina Club ($9.95) is filled with ultra-thin slices of fresh turkey breast built on layers of crispy bacon, thin wedges of avocado, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato on toasted garlic and cheese bread. The simple toasting of the bread, combined with the crispness of the bacon made the sandwich well worth the trip.

But the chicken salad sandwich ($9.95)--the special of the day--was far and away the standout of the afternoon. Forget any preconceptions of chicken salad as a mayonnaise-drenched lump. The Blue Moose has created a sandwich that transcends stereotypes. Delicate bits of white-meat chicken are mixed with red and green grapes, house-roasted cashews, raisins, dried cranberries, celery and just the faintest touch of curry in the mayonnaise that holds it all together. And if that weren't enough, the heavenly creation is sandwiched between two slices of cranberry walnut bread.

It's available as a wrap or a salad, both of which would be less messy, but then you would deprive yourself from experiencing the cranberry walnut bread, which, like all bread at the Blue Moose, is baked locally.

The creation is an exploration of flavors and textures: the earthy crunch of the cashews playing off the juicy sweetness of the grapes and the tangy bite of the cranberries juxtaposing against the cool crisp of the celery, making each bite different than the last.

While Blue Moose is primarily a lunch spot with limited hours, Friday nights offer a chance to relax to live jazz music with a prix-fixe menu and wine for $20 per person. The idea of stretching a relaxing lunch into an equally relaxing dinner is as tempting as the menu. Now, if they'll just start serving breakfast, there will be no need to go home.

--Deanna Darr takes advantage of a mini-vacation wherever she can find one.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about The Blue Moose Cafe.

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