There are many fine restaurants in the Treasure Valley and Brick29 in Nampa may set the bar for all of them. Under the talented command of owner/chef Dustan Bristol, Brick29 has brought creative food, made with fresh ingredients, together in a way that is at once both casual and elegant too. That is also an apt description of the space that Brick29 inhabits; casual, with an open kitchen and expansive bar, located at the top of the old (1919) Masonic Lodge Building in Nampa. The kitchen isn’t the only thing that is open, however–huge windows make it easy to enjoy a 180 degree view of the Owyhee Mountains and Nampa. A perfect place too, for a cocktail and catching the sunset.
Chef Dustan Bristol isn’t just any chef. He’s been featured in publications such as Rachael Ray Magazine, Wine Press Northwest and the Wall Street Journal. Chef Dustan is also a three-time nominee for the James Beard Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the culinary world. Since opening Brick29 in Nampa in 2007, he has brought delicious food to diners who enjoy his deft hand with fresh ingredients. Chef Dustan is very much the hands-on chef and appears to have assembled a cooking staff that can bring his creative dishes to fruition and up to his exacting standards. To that end, many seasonal dishes come on and off the menu with regularity.
Lunch at Brick29 consists of a nice selection of appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches and a few select entrees. One of the appetizers that is a must-get is the Dijon Bacon Sprouts. The sprouts are roasted, topped with plenty of chopped pieces of their house bacon and served with a whole grain mustard sauce. This sauce really pulls together the dish and works amazingly well with the flavorful sprouts. Other appetizers include the Chef’s take on the Canadian national dish, Poutine; Crepe Fried Brie, Ancho Chili Shrimp and the special B29 Fries.
Soups vary with the season. Both the Mushroom Bisque and the Pumpkin Bisque were standouts. The Mushroom Bisque had that flavor that could only be made by several varieties of fresh mushrooms, bringing a nice earthiness to the bisque. The Pumpkin Bisque may be one of the best soups ever, with just enough sweetness and spice to bring out the holiday flavors. Another must-get item is the Golden Beet Salad, excellent in both taste and texture with golden beets, goat cheese and candied almonds, all setting on a base of mixed greens. The house pickled onions top it off with just the right amount of zing and are just really tasty.
Sandwiches take center stage at lunch. Choices include a local ground beef burger, a Reuben, a Turkey Melt, a B.L.A.T. (bacon, butter lettuce, avocado and tomato) and brisket tacos. The Fig Grilled Cheese is a very creative take on the old standard and really ups the flavor of this humble sandwich. Served on grilled sourdough, the sandwich combines sharp cheddar, mozzarella and a Swiss fondue for a nice cheesy taste. Scallions add a bit of savory goodness, while the fig compote adds a sweet/tart goodness to the sandwich.
Possibly one of the greatest sandwiches ever created graces the menu at Brick29. This is the Oyster Club, a marvelous creation that hits all the right notes. The oysters, shipped in fresh from Gig Harbor, Washington, are panko-dusted and pan-fried. Thick slices of the house bacon, sharp cheddar cheese and a house tartar sauce are added along with lettuce, tomato and onion. An artisan roll with a perfect crust holds this piece of art. The taste is phenomenal, with the affinity of the oysters for the bacon just making it a wonderful combination. Chef Dustan has created possibly the world’s best oyster sandwich at Brick29.
Dinners at Brick29 show the same creativity, with a wider variety of entrees and some excellent daily specials. The oysters again make an appearance, panko-dusted and pan-fried and served with garlic and lemon as well as a cilantro garlic sauce. Entrees such as Mac and Cheese and the Chicken In A Biscuit are homey dishes that work well on the menu. The entrees emphasize fresh, local ingredients such as the Hagerman Trout, coming in fresh from not more than 120 miles away.The trout is marinated in cilantro and garlic and flame broiled. It is tender and has that flavor only fresh trout can give. Served with three types of crispy polenta and seasonal vegetables, the trout is served with a balsamic caramel and rhubarb chutney. As is with virtually all of Brick29’s dishes, the beautiful plating shows off the trout at its best.
There are rib eye steaks and then there are rib eye steaks. Brick29 uses a dry aged steak, a process which ups the flavor of the tender meat. This rib eye can hold its own with the best steakhouses, simply done and showcasing the meat’s beefy goodness. It is served two ways, with the basic prep including a simple salt and pepper seasoning, mashed potatoes and a nice piece of maitre d’ butter. The meat is cooked to taste, with the requested medium rare being a textbook example of how that should look. When sliced, it was a perfect medium-rare and was a great steak to enjoy, simple and yet elegant. The steak is also available bistro style, with fingerlings potatoes, a blue cheese fondue and crispy onions.
One standout on the menu that is enough to make a meat-eater go vegetarian (at least for the night) is the Eggplant Napoleon. Layered and served with crispy polenta on the side, seasonal vegetables and a tomato coulis, this is a great dish to tempt the taste buds and enjoy dining meatless. Another good meatless option is the Butternut Squash Ravioli. These handmade ravioli were huge, stuffed with local butternut squash and ricotta cheese, sautéed with kale and red onion and then finished with a sage brown butter pesto sauce. Garnished with roasted pepitas and shaved parmesan, this was definitely a plate of delicious flavors.
Lamb Shanks are a humble cut that in the right hands can be elevated to a kingly fare. Using a domestic raised lamb, the shank is roasted til tender, topped with a delicious demi-glace and served with a mushroom risotto. The meat practically melted in the mouth, extremely tender and with that deep flavor only slow-roasting can produce. This lamb shank was huge, almost like eating a full leg of lamb. For lamb fans, this is one of the best lamb dishes around.
On one night’s visit, the nightly special was a Seared Duck Breast Sous Vide. Being a huge duck fan and knowing what the sous vide technique can do in terms of adding flavor and tenderness as part of the cooking process, it was an easy decision to order it. What came to the table was literally, a work of art. The presentation was gorgeous, with the sliced medium-rare duck breast. Served with a glistening sauce reduction and sautéed kale, along with a delicious hash, this again showed why Chef Dustan is a master of culinary creations. The duck was flavorful, the sauce really flavorful without overpowering the duck. The duck, cooked to perfection, was tender and had a delicious crispy skin on it. If this was on the menu regularly, it might be a dish to order over and over.
The cocktail, wine and beer list has some nice choices to it. The cocktails are well-done, with the mixologist creating a selection of creative choices. There are occasional seasonal specials too, and show a flair for creating drinks that complement not only the season but also include fresh ingredients. The old standby, the Manhattan, was executed nicely and had a great flavor to it. also of note was a cocktail with a nice twist. The Huckleberry Martini, made with local Huckleberry vodka, had a subtle, fresh and slightly tangy taste from the huckleberry, one of the best treats in the area.
One of the nice things about Brick29 in Nampa is the ambience. While classy, it is still the kind of place where you feel comfortable. At lunch, office workers with badges mingled with casually dressed diners out for an exceptional lunch. At dinner, some tables were casually, while others were dressed elegantly, women in cocktail dresses and men with ties. The bottom line is, this can be a great place for just a dinner out, a nice date or a very special occasion.
Service at Brick29 is attentive, with knowledgeable food servers. At both lunch and dinner, the service was spot-on, a tribute to the staff. It was also interesting, with the bustle of the staff going to the kitchen, where one can see the occasional flare from the grill and catch a glimpse of Chef Dustan putting his mark on a dish. Overall, Brick29 is one of those rare places where you can enjoy yourself and enjoy exceptional food prepared in a comfortable atmosphere. Under Chef Dustan Bristol, Brick29 in Nampa sets a bar for dining that is tops in the Treasure Valley, if not for the entire Pacific Northwest.
320 11th Ave S
Nampa, ID 83651
Phone: (208) 468-0029