“Would you like mashed potatoes with that?” the waitress asked. She was a striking young woman named Valerie, part of the collective staff of Fork, where every employee seemed to be beautiful.
“Well, yes,” answered my mother. How Valerie knew that my mother possesses an unhealthy obsession with potatoes in all forms is still a mystery. Maybe to join the wait staff at Fork, you have to be both beautiful and psychic.
My mother’s obsession with potatoes (which I abbreviated in my notes as “mom’s obsession with pot”) is real. As serious as the heart attack you might suffer from Fork’s Tuesday evening special of Cast Iron Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Cheddar Waffle ($20). Potatoes, for her, are the mic drop of the culinary world. And she’s not even an original Idahoan.
She finished ordering the Idaho Rainbow Trout ($16.95), with accompanying kale and mashed potatoes, and I ordered the Heirloom Rainbow Beet Salad ($10.50). I wasn’t trying to be healthy, per se, but wanted to at least offset the bottle of wine on the table (2014 Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon, $39) and the dessert in my future. We hadn’t settled on Fork for the entrée or the wine or to look at pretty people, but for the dessert. We’ll get to that in a minute…
“Shouldn’t we maybe add an order of fries?” said my mother. By adding the Rosemary-Parmesan Idaho French Fries ($4.95) my mother was ensuring maximum potato consumption.
Here’s the lowdown on Fork:
Atmosphere: Hip. The sort of hip that will make you feel, for a short time, that you are cooler than you actually are. Fork goes to great lengths to stress their local ties, from the “BOISE” sign above the bar to the chalkboards boasting of all their local sources. I’m a big fan of any restaurant that has a wall of wine. In fact, all walls should be made of wine.
Price: You know how ‘privilege’ is a big buzzword these days? If you’re eating at Fork, you have that. No pricier than any other nice restaurant in downtown Boise, but not cheaper, either.
Staff: Maddeningly attractive and friendly.
Trout: Delish fish! Wonderful with the kale and mashed potatoes. “I hate kale,” said my mother, “but this kale is amazing.”
“You have to get just the right kale to potato ratio,” I added, helping myself to her plate.
“Or 100% potato,” she corrected. “That’s always good, too.”
Beets: Arugula, feta, candied walnuts, and honey vinaigrette. I’m not going to lie, it tasted healthy. Definitely good healthy, not bad healthy, like that time I tried to feed my kids something called a rice waffle and we all agreed we’d rather have syrup on cardboard. If you want light and healthy, order the beets. If you want decadence, look elsewhere on the menu. The Tomato Basil Fondue & Grilled Cheese ($8.95) is always a winner, as is Fork’s attempt to make a vegetable as unhealthy as possible with their Asparagus ‘Fries’ ($9.95).
Fries: “A perfect generous dusting of fine parmesan.” These were my mother’s words. She can be downright poetic when potatoes are involved. I have to agree. I’m not much of a fry person, but Fork does it right. And their fry sauce is above and beyond. Not your typical orange goop, their fry sauce seems to be infused with parmesan. Or heroin, I can’t be sure. But it’s downright addictive.
Dénouement: If you turn your nose up at bread pudding, merely because you don’t like the words ‘bread’ and ‘pudding’ put together, you are missing out. Bread pudding, done right, is the unsung hero of the dessert world. Fork’s Salted Caramel Bread Pudding ($8.95) is so good that I kind of want to rub it all over my body. Okay, not really. That would be weird. Forget I said that.
I wanted to take a picture of the bread pudding. Sadly, I had already shoved most of it into my face before I remembered.
If you still can’t get behind bread pudding, go for Fork’s Signature Warm Butter Cake ($9.95). My husband becomes a very weak man when confronted with this one, and I hope never to learn exactly how much butter goes into the butter cake.
Fork is located at the corner of 8th and Idaho in downtown Boise. Potato consumption encouraged, but not required.