Review: Cornerstone Bistro
Just hearing the word “bistro” in reference to Middleton, Idaho was intriguing enough to get me to go to the Cornerstone Bistro. For those not familiar with southwest Idaho, Middleton is a rural farming town whose best eatery I had been to has been the Farm Boy Drive-In, but recently I’ve been hearing buzz about the Cornerstone and chef Ben Thorpe’s take on local, seasonal cuisine, so I decided to spend my birthday dinner there.
Dining at the Cornerstone Bistro was the first time I truly felt like a guest in a restaurant, rather than a customer. Although I must say, when we walked into this unassuming 12-seater eatery located in a tiny “strip mall”, I wasn’t blown away, until we sat down and I began to ask the waiter about gluten free options. Chef Ben himself came over and began to tell us that the entire menu is gluten friendly. He, and several members of his family eat gluten free, so he cooks that way as well. From the fried calamari to the chocolate cake — all is safe for me to eat. He hung out for several minutes chatting with us about where he buys his gluten free stock and was just genuinely nice and interested, and also offered to make us whatever we wanted, regardless of what was on the menu that night. I told him he was my hero.
The first time I had fried calamari was in the Florida Keys, which should tell you why I was hooked, but I recently had to say goodbye to the little creature nuggets because of my gluten allergy. But thanks to Chef Ben using alternative flours in his dredge, I can have them again any time I want. (Well, any Friday or Saturday since they’re only open on weekends.) The fresh, velvety squid was wrapped in a crisp, yet light batter, and nearly melted in my mouth. And by the bottom of the basket, I found myself licking the crispy remains with sea salt and parsley off my fingers, just to prolong the experience.
For an entree, my husband ordered the seared duck breast in a Cabernet reduction. For me, medium rare filet mignon dripping with Bleu cheese. I have to say, although my steak was impeccable, I couldn’t stop stealing bites of my husband’s duck — and up until that day, I have never had duck that I liked. Thanks, Chef, for finally making me a bird that I enjoyed. One caveat to our meal, however, was that the roasted potatoes were a bit undercooked for our liking (but we wondered if we have been overcooking them all this time), however the asparagus was tender, sweet and fresh.
Finally, dessert brought me an ice cream sandwich made with the chef’s homemade chocolate cake and caramel sauce; and for my husband, grilled peaches with chocolate sauce. I wasn’t a fan of peaches and chocolate, but that’s my taste, my husband loved it. But oh, that chocolate cake! I was transported back to being a child having her first birthday cake and ice cream, it was truly memorable. (Pardon the drool.)
So if you want to experience a meal that’s been prepared for you out of care and expertise, then I highly recommend the Cornerstone Bistro. It’s recommended that you go to their website and send an email requesting a reservation, but it’s a delight when the chef himself responds, and if you ask, will tell you what he’s cooking that week. Plan a leisurely evening, sit as a guest of Chef Ben, and be prepared to be impressed.