A new Boise restaurant featuring a chef with a Michelin-star pedigree quietly opened just before the new year – for now, offering takeout only.
We first told you about Greg and Kari Strimple’s project in Boise in 2019. The new three-story building will feature a bar, restaurant, and office space on the site of the former Wells Fargo bank branch at 505 W. Bannock, just a stone’s throw from the Idaho Statehouse.
The restaurant, known as The Lively, will be helmed by Chef Edward Higgins. Higgins’ pedigree includes stops in Massachusetts, New York City, and San Francisco. Throughout his career, he earned a Michelin star at New York’s Insieme Restaurant and trained in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.
Now, he’s bringing his skills to Boise.
“I’m an East Coaster and kind of migrated across the country, via Japan. I was in Hawaii when I was contacted about this project,” Higgins said. “I never expected myself to be living in Idaho, but once I saw everything that you have here (I was excited). It’s been hiding away from the rest of America.”
Higgins started creating food to go late last month, ahead of the full restaurant and Bar Gibbon opening later this year. The menu includes dinner options with a variety of proteins. Options range from a gin cured salmon served with potato latke and cucumber raita to the Idaho ruby trout Rockefeller with shaved fennel and salsa cruda. A meatball dish, a burger, half roasted chicken and more give the menu a varied selection.
“I want to do food that tells stories,” Higgins said. “Telling a story about the local community. The sort of ‘terroir’ of this area – people who have been working here and farming here and ranching here for decades. I will use my personal travels and story to use that as a filter to get that onto the plate.”
Higgins said his influences are varied.
“I grew up as a Sicilian and Irish Kid. I’ve studied Italian, French and Japanese and that all kind of play into one complete thing on the plate for me. You get your inspiration and passion out of your Italian food. You’re pulling your technique out of the French, and with the Japanese yo’ re getting that reverence and austerity that comes through. Hope through that all comes through in subtle ways with what we do.”
New on Boise’s culinary scene
Strimple said he thinks this offering can work well in Boise. He noted the hundreds of new apartments under construction downtown, as well as the restaurant’s proximity to the Idaho Statehouse and North End. He also thinks the location is key with available parking for folks driving in from other areas.
“My wife and I really love Boise,” Strimple said. We asked him how the new offering will fit in with restaurants like Chandler’s, Richards, and the new Little Pearl Oyster Bar. “I think the restaurants you mentioned are the tier we want to be in competition – friendly competition with. We really wanted to have a heightened food stance and see what we could do. It was really lucky we found Edward. He’s amazingly easy to work with and passionate about what he does. And a true pro.”
The price points on the initial Lively menu range from a salad for $9, a burger at $16 and the top-level offering on the menu a $37 Snake River American Wagyu zabuton steak with Sun Valley frites. Strimple says he hopes the price points will make The Lively a place diners can return to over and over.
“I think there is so much room for growth and development,” Higgins said. “I think that’s what you are seeing on the scene here. The opportunity is to bring something unprecedented really. And my hope, my vision is to do something that helps to raise the bar for everybody – I think that’s what Cal (Elliot, owner of Little Pearl Oyster Bar) is going to do as well. To bring something from outside that hasn’t really fully demonstrated culinarily here. I think that will raise the whole base here.”
The future Lively and Bar Gibbon will include a wide variety of different seating options – including bartop, large booths, a private dining room, a speakeasy space, and more. The kitchen, on the building’s second floor, will feature glass and an open concept. The ceilings are tall, and the bar entrance features a two-story atrium.
Kari Strimple is an interior designer and owner of Essai, a Boise-based design firm. She’s worked on a number of unique treatments throughout the restaurant. A main staircase will feature a high-end wallpaper that will give the effect of walking into a forest, according to her husband Greg.
The Lively is open now for takeaway. A formal restaurant opening date is not yet set. They hope the timing will be good for this type of restaurant and bar.
“As soon as we get the vaccine going, people are going to be excited to get out of the house,” Strimple said.