Review: Chandlers Steakhouse Boise

Jul 17, 2011 by     5 Comments    Posted under: Boise, Idaho, Restaurants, Reviews

Chandlers Steakhouse at Hotel 43 in downtown Boise used to be one of my favorite dining spots in town, but my recent visits have been utter disappointments.  I’m not sure what happened, but something better change quick, especially at the prices they charge.

Everything sounds like it should be great.  Their website states, “CHANDLERS STEAKHOUSE is an upscale dinner house specializing in prime corn fed steaks and Kobe-Style Beef. An incredible fresh seafood menu featuring delicacies from around the world and a three course prix fixe dinner menu featuring Idaho-sourced ingredients round out a menu that has already won praise from guests that have dined at Chandlers, not to mention the Best Steakhouse Award from the Idaho Statesman’s 2010 Best of the Treasure Valley.”  Their menu states that they dry age their steaks and then broil them in an 1800° oven.  Sounds just perfect, but something’s amiss.

Chandlers Steakhouse Salads

We ordered two salads, which both sounded great.  The Limousine Salad and the Rocket Salad.

Chandlers Steakhouse Limousine Salad

Chandlers Steakhouse Limousine Salad

LIMOUSINE SALAD – Crisp butter leaf lettuce, dressed with genuine Roquefort bleu cheese, spiced cashews, shaved crispy shallots, and garlic croutons with Roquefort vinaigrette.  This was good, but only if you like really intense burn your tongue bleu cheese.  It was a bit much for me, but the others in our party loved it.  It was a whole butter lettuce which was just soaked in the Roquefort dressing.  The dressing was bleu cheese, vinegar, possibly butter milk, and a touch of hot pepper.  Good not great.

Chandlers Steakhouse Rocket Salad

Chandlers Steakhouse Rocket Salad

ROCKET SALAD – Baby arugula with fresh sliced pear, shaved asiago cheese, crispy pancetta and toasted pine nuts in an apple cider vinaigrette. Garnished with crispy onion straws.  The arugula was perfectly tossed with just the right amount of vinaigrette, which was very light and mild in flavor.  A nice balance with the spicy arugula.  The pancetta was excellent, very tasty and nice and crispy.  They gave a fair amount of it too.  The pine nuts were terrific.  But there was hardly any asiago given.  Stop being so stingy on the cheese.  It’s a nice salty contrast that needs to be more present.

I was rather enjoying this salad, but then I got to the pear.  The tricksy tricksy pear.  It was grilled, soft and firm.  Looked great.  I bit into it and it was ice cold.  It just completely ruined the entire thing.  I’m sorry, but a grilled pear with black grill lines on it just should not be freezing cold.  What an unnecessary mind trick.  A warm pear would have been a perfect contrast to the rest of the ingredients, and would have matched the visual presentation.  So sorry Chandlers, but you failed on this one.

Chandlers Steakhouse Appetizers

I usually order Chandlers Tower of Tuna or Crab Cakes, as I have found them to be quite delicious.  But I thought I’d branch out and try a couple other things this go around.

Chandlers Steakhouse Oysters Rockefeller

Chandlers Steakhouse Oysters Rockefeller

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER – Fresh oysters baked on the half shell with sautéed spinach, shallots, red bell peppers and Pernod topped with a light citrus hollandaise.  These were absolutely amazing!  Possibly the best Oysters Rockefeller I’ve ever had.  The oysters were cooked perfectly.  The spinach made the whole thing seem liter somehow.  And the hollandaise was perfect with a little extra lemon juice squeezed over the top.  Do not change these Chandlers!

Chandlers Steakhouse Roasted Artichoke

Chandlers Steakhouse Roasted Artichoke

ROASTED ARTICHOKE – Halved and oven-roasted artichoke, marinated with garlic, herbs, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil served with roasted red pepper aioli.  Maybe I just got a bad artichoke, but this thing was horrible.  It had absolutely no flavor to the meat at all.  Aggravating, but not necessarily Chandler’s fault.  What was their fault, though, was the horrible choice in preparation.  This marinated with herbs and lemon thing translated in what tasted exactly like chopped herbs and balsamic vinegar.  Ya, I know they’re both Italian, but don’t put balsamic on an artichoke.  Those flavors do not work together.  And maybe think about grilling the artichoke over flames instead of throwing it in an oven.  At least then a nice smokiness could potentially compensate for a bad flavorless choke.  Nice try, but huge failure.

Chandlers Steakhouse Steakhouse Specialties

Special my ass.  Chandlers dry aging process doesn’t seem to make their beef taste any better than a nice local raised beef pulled out of my freezer.  Dry aging usually does a lot to the flavor and texture of a steak, but I wasn’t finding that here.  We ordered two steaks, the Flat Iron American Kobe Beef, and the Argentine Style Grass-Fed Beef.

Chandlers Steakhouse Flat Iron Steak American Kobe Beef

Chandlers Steakhouse Flat Iron Steak American Kobe Beef

FLAT IRON STEAK AMERICAN KOBE BEEF – The menu says this comes from Idaho Snake River Farms.  That means local, and local is always a better choice.  How nice that Chandlers supports local businesses and eco-friendly sourcing.  Wish the steak was good though.  It was prepared perfectly, and had a great crust from the high temperature broiler, but was certainly nothing special for $36.  The sauces served with it weren’t anything to write home about either.  The Red-Wine Roquefort was a waste of time, the Bearnaise good, and the Peppercorn adequate, but for a high-end steakhouse shouldn’t the accompanying sauces blow your socks off?  Lame.

Chandlers Steakhouse Argentine Style Grass-Fed Beef

Chandlers Steakhouse Argentine Style Grass-Fed Beef

ARGENTINE STYLE GRASS-FED BEEF – So you know my last comment about how Chandlers is eco-friendly by sourcing local ingredients?  Well that was a funny joke because the beef in this menu item comes straight from South America.  That must mean it’s one of the best steaks ever.  Wrong!  It had less flavor than the Idaho steak did, which was surprising being that it was rubbed with a dry chimichurri rub that should have been popping with zingy flavors.  What the hell happened here?  Oh I know, $36 went down the drain.

Chandlers Steakhouse Side Dishes


Chandlers Steakhouse Rosemary Roasted Yukon Gold Potato

Chandlers Steakhouse Rosemary Roasted Yukon Gold Potato

ROSEMARY ROASTED YUKON GOLD POTATO – This was perfect.  Slices of Yukon gold, lined up beautifully on a plate, seasoned perfectly with rosemary, salt and pepper, and drizzled with olive oil.  Perfectly executed.  $7 is a bit steep though.

Chandlers Steakhouse Roquefort Au Gratin Potatoes

Chandlers Steakhouse Roquefort Au Gratin Potatoes

ROQUEFORT AU GRATIN POTATOES – Wow!  This was truly revolting.  Chef Ramsay would have through this against the wall, and I must say I was tempted myself.  The mere fact that you would put this on your menu and then charge somebody $7.50 for it makes me embarrassed and ashamed for you Chandlers.  Seriously, this tasted like it came straight out of a Betty Crocker box of dehydrated $0.89 potatoes.  I pity your chef that thinks this is worth serving.

Chandlers Steakhouse Desserts

We didn’t order any desserts after this dining fiasco, but I have had most of them several times in the past and thought I’d touch on them.

The CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE is good, but not amazing, and is perhaps a bit too much of a production to wait 30 minutes for.

The TRI-FECTA (mini flourless chocolate tortes) is fun for us chocolate lovers out there, and is well done.

The FRESH FRUIT COBBLER WITH HOUSE-MADE CINNAMON ICE CREAM is always nice, though it often seems to have a bit too much sugar for my liking.

The BUTTERSCOTCH CREME BRULEE is good, but the traditional classic version would be better.

But I recommend going straight to the KEY LIME PIE.  It is fantastic.  It comes out in a ramekin boat instead of a slice of pie, but that just adds to its unique quality.  The ginger snap crust is an awesome contrast to the lime, and the whole thing is perfectly tart, sweet, and creamy.  Yum!

Chandlers Steakhouse Summary Review and Verdict

Go somewhere else for dinner.  Chandlers is no where near the price, and needs to hire a new chef.  However, if you’re looking for a nice place to listen to live jazz and enjoy some nice appetizers and/or desserts, definitely pay them a visit.

The Bald Gourmet is on the pursuit of finding dining perfection, and writes reviews of how well restaurants do in appeasing that pursuit.



5 Comments + Add Comment

  • I have never before felt compelled to write an unfavorable review about a restaurant or service, but I believe in this case it is completely warranted. I visited Chandler’s last Friday night for dinner with my daughters, following the death of my mother. My younger daughter and I arrived promptly for our 6 pm reservation, but the elder was unexpectedly detained (she is a nurse; these things do happen). My daughter and I ordered a bottle of wine, bottled water, and an appetizer to share while waiting. Time passed, and we ordered another appetizer. At 6:30, the sommelier approached our table and pointedly asked when our guest was expected, as they “needed the table.” I was nearly speechless. We had made the restaurant aware both when we made the reservation and later when we arrived that it was a dinner meant to mourn my mother’s death. We had ordered and consumed at that time more than ample “billable product” to justify our “table time” and would eventually end up spending well over $250 for the meal and drinks that evening. It was absolutely inexcusable for a staff member to conduct himself in this manner. If I had been made aware when placing the reservation that the table would be needed for another party and that we were to rush our meal to accommodate a later seating, I would have selected another restaurant. I explained our situation (again) to the sommelier and he eventually left us alone. My other daughter arrived within minutes. As if this weren’t enough, when we later decided to order dessert, we were asked AGAIN to be moved to a “booth” as the “table was needed.” I have been fortunate to have dined at some of the finest restaurants in this world and have NEVER experienced such demeaning and inappropriate behavior. I will not return to this restaurant and believe that others should be made aware of this “time out” seating policy and disrespectful treatment by staff.

  • Your review of Chandlers is spot on. We took our friends who were visiting us from out of town to eat dinner at Chandlers. The steaks that we ordered were fine, but not worth the price. Two of us ordered the rocket salad. We had better luck than you since the pears included in the salad were warm, but we needed a magnifying glass to find the asiago cheese. Our biggest gripe were the sides that we ordered to accompany our steaks. My husband ordered the asparagus hollandaise and the rest of us had baked potatoes. His asparagus tasted like the canned stuff and the sauce was very very bland. Our potatoes had that flavor taters get when they have been sitting under a lamp for some time. You cannot screw up baked potatoes. The waiter was gracious enough to not charge us for the sides, but for a high scale restaurant such as this one, there is no excuse.

    The bar area is beautiful and it would be a great place to have a cocktail or two with friends. Chandlers does serve up some potent martinis, but for steaks, I would rather go to the Cottonwood Grill. Steaks are delicious and cooked to order, the sides are included in the price, plus they are freshly prepared.

  • I’ve been to Chandlers twice, both the original location in Ketchum and the one in Boise, and both times I was very disappointed. The first time, I tried their signature dish of Pot Roast. Frankly, the Brick Oven Bistro does it better and for a whole lot less money. The second time I tried one of their steaks. It was o.k., but in no way remarkable.

    For great steak, I’d recommend Castle Ranch Steak House (the executive chef used to work at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House and he knows what he’s doing) or Eighteen One Restaurant at the Eagle Hills Golf Course in Eagle (Chef Aaron Horsewood usually has a dry-aged steak option on the menu and it’s knock-out). I would also recommend the Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Bearnaise Sauce at Brick 29 in Nampa, which is well worth the drive. That steak in particular is one of the very best I’ve ever had, but I wouldn’t recommend all steak options at Brick 29 because I once ordered a dry-aged steak they had as a special, found it lacking and when I inquired, I was told that it had been “dry-aged” by leaving the meat to sit on the counter for a few days, which is not certainly not how you “dry-age” beef, though it’s a good recipe for tummy troubles. Even so, Brick 29 is hands down my and my foodie friends’ favorite restaurant in Idaho. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

    However, if you’re seeking fine dining options in Boise, consider Berryhill & Co., Cafe Vicino’s and Cottonwood Grill. The best items at Berryhill are not the specials, but just about everything else on the menu. You can order much of the dinner menu at lunch for a whole lot less. The downside to Berryhill is that the specials are not generally the best options and the regular menu almost never changes so after you’ve been there a bunch of times, if you’re an adventurous eater like me, you’ll run out of things to try.

    Cafe Vicino’s is owned by members of some of Boise’s best old, but now defunct, restaurants like Richard’s and Amore, so those folks know their way around a kitchen and they offer outstanding service. Like Berryhill, you can enjoy much of Cafe Vicino’s dinner menu at lunch time at a much lower price. I think one of the areas that Cafe Vicino’s is lacking is desserts. Stay away from anything with a crust, including quiche at lunch, because they don’t do it well. Unless dessert just doesn’t matter much to you, I’d consider Cafe Vicino for lunch or dinner and go elsewhere for dessert, like Cottonwood Grill, which has a dedicated pastry chef.

    The Cottonwood Grill excels in meat preparation (they have some unusual choices such as Elk Stroganoff and they do everything well except their English-style Fish and Chips, which is truly the worst rendition of that dish I’ve ever had), desserts (very few places in town have a pastry chef), atmosphere (the restaurant is beautiful in itself, but in good weather, you might be lucky enough to score a table on the patio, which is right up against the Boise River) and service. Wherever you choose to go, in my opinion, all of these restaurants far surpass Chandler’s.

  • Any chance someone was on summer vacation from the kitchen? We were going to go there for the first time in a week or so and now I am reluctant. Plus the salad photos are disturbing for so many reasons. Did you truly prefer the Brickyard or is it just because it was a new experience? What’s the very best recommendation you would make for a serious and sophisticated food preparation, refined dining experience with real linens and tables far enough apart for private conversations? (preferably also not kid-friendly and providing attentive service) That sounds like a joke when I read it back, at least around Boise, but seriously…best recommendation to compete with “those other cities’ finer restaurants.”

    • Thanks for the comment Ella. Here’s the deal, Chandlers is a great setting and their service is very professional, exceptional perhaps. I should incorporate that more into my reviews, but I have a hard time getting beyond the pros and cons of the food when I’m doing a review. I do recommend Chandlers for a romantic setting like you’re describing, and I think you may enjoy yourselves from that aspect. I just was blown away at the lacking quality of preparation of the dishes we ordered when I did this review, so I wrote accordingly. I still like Chandlers for ambiance, appetizers, and desserts. However, I believe that Barbacoa does a much better job with their steaks and presentations, and would eat there for dinner any day over Chandlers. However, Barbacoa is noisy and usually pretty crowded, therefore not as romantic (unless you can secure one of their balcony/patio seats overlooking the lake). The Brickyard had great service and a nice setting, but to me, it seemed more playful and fun than “special night out fine dining” if that makes any sense. Their steaks weren’t as good as Barbacoa’s, but their halibut was amazing. You might also want to check out Cottonwood Grill and Berryhill & Co. I’ve only had lunch at Cottonwood, but it was good and I’m guessing their dinners are great. It is beautiful inside and their service was good, but they are on my list to do a dinner review. I’ve heard great things about Berryhill, but unfortunately haven’t eaten there yet. They too are on the list to review.

      So I don’t know if this has been much help. I guess I’d recommend Chandlers for the service and atmosphere, just don’t expect mind blowing food; Barbacoa for a great meal, beautiful decor and art, but a loud dining experience; and The Brickyard for a good meal, good service, private dining, but kind of fun and playful experience.

I love hearing from my readers, so please go ahead and leave a comment!


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