Wednesday, March 2, 2016

RESTAURANT WEEK: Editorial staffers check out Gilded Unicorn and Fleur de Sel

Posted By and on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 4:02 PM

click to enlarge Gilded Unicorn's basement location feels like you're in a different country, instead of downtown Spokane. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Gilded Unicorn's basement location feels like you're in a different country, instead of downtown Spokane.

The Inland Northwest is in the throes of Inlander Restaurant Week for another few days — you can find all the necessary info here — and our staffers are out on the scene doing a little grubbing themselves: 

110 S. Monroe, 309-3698
open daily 3-11 pm, $19/person

After eating the first and second courses on the Gilded Unicorn’s Restaurant Week menu, you won’t have space left inside you body for the dessert round. But you will take a few meltingly sweet bites of the Dutch apple pie or the oven fried brownie anyway, because they smell like your grandmother’s kitchen and you won’t be able to help yourself.

So it was last Friday, when the cavernous basement restaurant — only open since December and already making a name for itself as restauranteur/owner/chef Adam Hegsted is now a James Beard Award finalist — was full of people waiting to get a bite of the place’s new-fashioned comfort food dishes. Gilded Unicorn does not take reservations, but you may be able to beat the wait (and expect a wait during peak dinner times) by snagging a spot at the bar or chef’s counter.

Starting off with the first course, the Devils on Horseback was best. Who can resist a hot bacon-wrapped date’s lava-like juices squirting in your mouth? And the main course’s duck leg, paired with beer-braised root vegetable lentils, and Rice-y-Roni stroganoff (slow-cooked beef risotto) were both impeccable. I would go back for more, but I’m not sure I have any room yet. 

4365 Inverness Dr., Post Falls, 208-777-7600
open daily at 5 pm for IRW, $29/person

An ongoing Restaurant Week tradition for my partner and I is to choose a spot we've never been before; something maybe outside the more familiar neighborhoods, and toward the top of our dining out budget — a special occasion place, if you will. So after scouring menus offered this year — and facing quite a challenge since we've been to almost all the eateries meeting that criteria so far — I was quite happy to pick a place I'd heard so many good things about: the authentically French Fleur de Sel in Post Falls. Wanting to make sure we didn't miss the chance to try the appetizing three-course lineup, I made early evening reservations this past Sunday evening.

As someone who revels in surprising others, I didn't tell my guest where we were going, and had him wondering the whole drive out I-90 to our destination. After the 30-minute drive and throughout our 1.5 hour dining experience, Fleur de Sel did not disappoint in the least. Having peeked at the menu before, I already knew I was definitely ordering the chicken and truffles for my main course — a must-try recommendation from a colleague. As someone who doesn't usually order chicken when dining out (it's too common, and hard to find done right) I was beyond delighted by the savory, rich, black truffle cream sauce over which the tender breast meat was served. I wiped up every last bit of that sauce from my bowl with the sliced baguette served at our table. 

Portions were hearty and flavorful all around. We started with the salmon rillette and the crab and ricotta beignets — both are packed with a variety of flavors and easy to share. Like me, my partner devoured his entree, the beef "en croute," braised, boneless ribs baked in a toasty puff pastry. By the time dessert came and our plates were cleared, we were both stuffed but so satisfied. Thankfully we had the drive home to relax and recount everything about our wonderful meal. I highly recommend others try this North Idaho gem if they can still get reservations in the coming days.

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