Fly-In & Dine In: Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery

I cradled Coco, a slight emaciated sienna and white female pit bull, and loaded her and her litter into the back of N811GW, a Cessna 182T. This doggy family was remarkably calm given what they’ve gone through.

Coco was found huddling with her seven puppies under a trailer in Alvarado, Texas. After a quick phone call, she ended up at Alvarado Animal Control. Kimberly Fairchild, Executive Director from the Shelter2Rescue Coalition, was able arrange transportation for this brood from Johnson County to Arlington, Texas to Denton, Texas and to Lindsey Patterson in Dallas, Texas. After several days, she arranged transport to Denver, Colorado then to Vernal, Utah and eventually to Salt Lake City and to me.

Coco is a sweet, young mommy but exhausted and slight malnourished from her travels and nursing seven young mouths. Thankfully, her and her pups curled up on the doggy pillow lined bench seat and settled in for a 2-hour excursion to Boise, Idaho. The instrument rating came in handy. I broke out at about 1,000 AGL on the ILS 10R at Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (KBOI), landed and hurried to exit the runway in front of a Compass Airlines Embraer E-175.

The linesmen at Western Aircraft helped me unload my precious cargo. I handed Coco and her pups over to Christina and Bob Mays who kept warm were waiting inside the FBO. After a week-and-a-half long odyssey that included more than half dozen humans and two general aviation flights, they drove this pack to Portland, Oregon. When the pups are weaned and old enough to be fixed, they’ll be put up for adoption.

The dogs weren’t the only ones that were hungry after arrival. I borrowed the crew car and headed 15 minutes east of the airfield to downtown Boise. Downtown Boise is home to the Idaho State Capitol, the Ada County Courthouse complex and Boise City Hall. It is also home to over 200 retail choices and more than 90 dining options including Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery, America’s first distillery pub.

Kevin Settles and Dave Krick opened Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery in 1999 and it’s been a Boise stable for 15-years. Since then, they have opened two additional locations in Eagle and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. It’s a pub-type atmosphere with a sports bar vibe and a patio area that is perfect for stealing away time on a warm summer’s day. The good news – brunch is served till 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. The bad news – a burger order medium rare arrived well done. The bacon topping was more than slightly oven done and the accompanying sweet potato fries were more soggy than crispy. The albacore tuna sandwich read like slice grilled albacore but arrived looking like StarKist® tuna salad on sourdough. 

There are a few winners on the menu. The Smoked Trout Spread with warm pita, capers, pickled red onion and slivered almonds, made from local trout, is a rich, balanced combination of tangy and smoky. The Lollipop Pork Shanks are a half-dozen meaty little bone sticks glazed with a spicy mango-habanero sauce. They’re kicky, in a good way, and beg for a Ginger Rum Cocktail with Bardenay house-made ginger spiced rum, a dash of vanilla, triple sec and fresh-pressed sweet and sour. The Oven Roasted Corned Beef and Kimchi Reuben on dark rye substitutes the fermented and pungent Korean condiment for the traditional sauerkraut. The meat is succulent and sliced thin and the sun-dried tomato mayonnaise is a wonderfully sweet addition.

A little more attention to detail is needed from both the kitchen staff and the corporate menu writer. To be frank, the best part of the experience was the friendly, attentive and relaxing service and the house-made distilled beverages. In retrospect, it makes sense as Bardenay is a term used loosely by sailors in place of the word cocktail. According to my co-pilot, the Sunday Morning Paper brunch cocktail is a cross between a bloody Mary and vodka martini - Bardenay lemon vodka, fresh pressed sour and house spicy bloody Mary with a spiced salt rim. And it is to die for. The Bardeany Bond Martini - Bardenay Gin, Bardenay Vodka and Lillet Blanc, is their version of the Vespa. I like mine stirred not shaken but it was tasty never the less.

Bardenay’s mixes and pours their distilled beverages with care. The service staff is fun, consistent and excellently trained. The price to value ratio works. Soon you won’t have to borrow the crew car. Work has begun on Bardenay at the Boise Airport located in the concession area inside the terminal. Just one more reason to visit the City of Trees.

Bardenay is in the middle of the historic “Basque Block,” the large but close-knit Basque community between 6th and Capital Boulevard on Grove Street. Next-door is Tony and Tara Eiguren’s Basque Market that embraces everything Lauburu (the Basque cross). While sporting your red beret you can snack on pintxos, paella and bocadillos and sip a glass of refreshing Txakolina. The deli case is over flowing with cheeses, meats and culinary specialties from the Iberian Peninsula. According to Food & Wine Magazine, “statistics show that the Basques spend more than twice as much of their disposable income on food as we do in the United States.”(1) It makes sense when you sample their gastronomic wares.

Before you take off, check the weight and balance and make sure there is room in the baggage compartment for a few cases of a vibrant and fruity Rioja.

Note: NoKill Rural Texas is Shelter2Rescue Coalition, Inc.’s networking page on Facebook. They network five rural Texas shelters that would have little to no help at all without networking. "Liking" their page goes a long way to help save more rural

Texas dogs. Coco and her babies came from one of those shelters.

(1) Schoenfeld, Bruce. "Basque Country Cooking." Food & Wine. Food & Wine Magazine, July 1996. 



Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field (KBOI)

Elevation: 2,871 ft.

Sectional chart: Salt Lake City

ARTCC: Salt Lake City Center

FSS: Boise Flight Service Station

Runways: 10L/28R – 10,000 x 150 ft.

                 10R/28L – 9,763 x 150 ft.

UNICOM: 122.95

Boise Ground: 121.7

Boise Approach: 118.1

Boise Approach / Departure: 119.6 (S), 126.9 (N)

ATIS: 123.9 (WX ASOS PHONE 208-388-4640)


Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery

610 W. Grove Street

Boise, Idaho 83702

Phone: (208) 426-0538


The Basque Market
608 W. Grove Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

Phone (208) 433-1208


Boise Fry Company Downtown

204 N. Capitol Boulevard

Boise, Idaho 83702

Phone: (208) 495-3858


Shelter2Rescue Coalition

Phone: (682) 305-2100

Western Aircraft

3201 Airport Way

Boise, Idaho 83705

Phone: (208) 338-1833

Chef Stuart Stein is a graduate of the University of Illinois Business School and the culinary arts program at Chicago’s Kendall College. He has worked in France and the all over the US as a cook, executive chef, culinary instructor and restaurateur. Chef Stein is the writer of the book, The Sustainable Kitchen: Passionate Cooking Inspired by Farms,  Forests, and Oceans (New Society Publishers), and has written in countless culinary and aviation publications. Stuart is also a private pilot flying in southern California.

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