Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lewis and Clark didn't eat here

Lewiston, Idaho is the lowest spot in our fair state at a mere 700 or so feet above sea level, squeezed at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers at the base of much higher land in all directions, and home to a foul-smelling but economically significant pulp mill.

It also is -- or, so claims the publisher of Lewiston's fine newspaper, the Tribune -- the home of the original bite-sized steak. When I suggested that finger steaks are common throughout our country, he disdainfully suggested that finger steaks and bite-sized steak have as much in common as fingerling potatoes and potato flakes. Fine, whatever. Publishers lie about their home towns. I once told a job applicant that you can see the Tetons from Idaho Falls.

Lewiston has a sister city across the Snake River in Washington called Clarkston. Get the picture? This is Idaho's banana belt, where one can golf year-round and wine grapes are finding a home. You can't get there from anywhere -- the nearest freeway is a couple of hours' drive away. If you fish, it's about as perfect a place as there is on the planet. It's also a fine town for the blue-collar food bon vivant.

There is Bojack's, where the smoky bar is on the main level and the restaurant is downstairs. The house specialty is the 50-50 -- boiled shrimp and deep-fried steak bites, served with potato and spaghetti. Why spaghetti?

"We only have one deep fryer," explains the waitress. "When we're busy it takes awhile to get the fried food done, so we serve spaghetti first." That, dear reader, is genius.

Publisher hyperbole aside, I must report that the bite-sized steak is far more delicious than finger steaks and can even be ordered medium rare. I stand corrected.

Another place one must visit while in Lewiston is Effie's, home of hamburgers the circumference of a small pizza, Strangely enough, they are also delicious, with a sort of Big Mac thing going on. Four of us split two burgers, so there can be little doubt that our caloric intake was reasonable and prudent.

Lewiston is a lovely, unpretentious sort of town on the edge of the Palouse and the Camas Prairie, an inland port made accessible by dams and locks on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Highfalutin it isn't, and that's a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. You CAN see the Tetons from Idaho Falls! ;)
    This blog is terrific. I came across a slot canyon photo on Pinterest, and arrived here upon clicking. I live in Idaho Falls as well, and am enjoying it and its proximity to such wonders as Moab & Zion (and the Tetons!). It has been quite a change from my life-long East Coast living.